Learndirect blames government cuts for damning Ofsted report

Xavier Trudeau
Août 17, 2017

EMBATTLED adult training provider learndirect is to be stripped of a government contract after concerns were raised about poor standards.

A damning Ofsted report on Learndirect has been published, days after the training company failed to block its release in the High Court.

The spokesman said: "Like all providers in the sector, we've had to manage a reduction in central government funding".

"For Learndirect Limited this totals a 50% reduction in our adult skills funding over the last five years". These funding reductions were made at short notice and required significant changes to the business for it to remain viable. Our new senior management team, with the support of our stakeholders, has moved quickly to ensure the business responds to the challenges this poses. This includes diversifying our income streams and starting to address areas that require development.

The Ofsted report said: "Directors and senior managers failed to take swift and decisive action to stem the decline in performance over the past three years". The inspectors listed 11 areas in which Learndirect was an "inadequate provider" and found just three "strengths" of the business.

Following the hearing a public war of words broke out between the two, with Ofsted vigorously defending its processes against strongly-worded attacks from Learndirect saying the report did not give a true indication of its work. "The proportion of learners and apprentices achieving their qualifications and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment had deteriorated significantly".

The report also raises concerns about "insufficiently robust" monitoring and tracking of apprentices' progress, the performance of tutors and assessors and concerns about the development of learners' English and maths skills.

The Ofsted report pointed out that "too many 16- to 19-year-old learners on traineeships do not complete their programmes" and "too few adult learners secure employment when they leave Learndirect". It said 70% of apprentices failed to meet the minimum standards and six in 10 did not achieve their apprenticeship on time.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed yesterday that learndirect's contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will be wound up by July next year.

However, the owners of Learndirect are continuing to win government-approved apprenticeship contracts via a separate company - Learndirect Apprenticeships - that they set up a year ago.

It comes after the government said it would remove its funding by July 2018.

Learndirect also said the sample size of 0.6% used by inspectors wasn't representative of such a large organisation but a bid to silence the report was overturned on Friday by the courts and reporting restrictions were lifted.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "LearnDirect Limited's underlying business remains stable and we continue to be focused on supporting our learners as usual".

Learndirect - which is owned by private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital, an arm of Lloyds bank - employs 1,645 people and is responsible for nearly 73,000 trainees and apprentices.

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