Apprenticeship provider accused of misleading employers and students

The provider specialises in social care apprenticeships (picture posed by models)

An apprenticeship provider to the care sector has received a damning report from Ofsted after it was discovered that many employers using its services were not aware of the requirements of the programme.

In its report, Ofsted found that “many” of the apprentices attending training with Care Assessment Training Services (CATS) did not know they were apprentices or why they were on an apprenticeship programme.

It said the provider had made “insufficient progress” in ensuring it met all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision.

“Leaders and managers do not use integrity when recruiting apprentices,” it said. “For example, apprentices on the level 5 programme complete their courses early but remain on programme until the planned end date. Many apprentices do not know that they are apprentices or why they are on an apprenticeship programme.”

It also found that the majority of those on level 2 and level 5 programmes did not receive sufficient time to complete their off-the-job training, which is supposed to account for 20% of their time.

It criticised the company for not holding leaders to account on the quality of the programme.

Ofsted added: “The external scrutiny of policies, systems or quality arrangements does not exist. Consequently, leaders and managers have been slow to put changes in place. For example, leaders and managers were right in identifying that they were too slow in recruiting assessors. As a result, apprentices do not receive the full support they need throughout their apprenticeship.”

Apprentices were frequently not made aware of their end-point assessment, and were not prepared effectively for their professional discussion and tests.

Ofsted’s inspection of the provider also found that apprentices were often left to research new topics without having received the basic knowledge beforehand, and when planning the curriculum, assessors at the company did not consider apprentices’ levels of English and maths skills.

Despite the lack of adequate provision, some of the apprentices trained by CATS had developed new skills, the report noted.

Some had used electronic translation tools to communicate with non-English speaking residents, for example, while those on level 5 schemes had chosen topics that would complement their own roles and help service users.

Ofsted also found that training on safeguarding made “reasonable progress” and was at an appropriate level, although apprentices at level 5 were more aware of how to report safeguarding concerns than those at lower levels.

At the time of inspection, CATS had 102 apprentices on apprenticeship programmes, mostly studying for a care qualification. Almost three-quarters of these were at levels 2 and 3, 20 were on level 5 and six were studying business administration at levels 2 and 3.

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