This provider is good because ….

The elusive words we all want to see at the top of our Ofsted reports. Particularly in the light of recent government hints, statements and actions clearly indicating that nothing less than ‘good’ is good enough. Well, Ofsted’s verdict was that NETA Training Trust was good in 2007, and it is still good in 2013.

This success story has a backdrop of hard work and continued commitment from everyone at NETA. In 2012, a GTA England team responded to an early request from NETA for a peer review. Managers thought their inspection was imminent, and wanted us to check out and validate their self-assessment judgments. They had all their staff on ‘red alert’, and had prepared them very thoroughly for inspection, and thought they had all their ducks in a row.

Quality assurance is central to NETA’s strategy and management, and has received consistent investment. But two major things had changed in the GTA world. Unemployment was high in the north east, and particularly in the construction sector. NETA’s bread and butter is engineering construction, for which it has long been the ECITB’s preferred local supplier. The sector had been badly hit by the recession, and NETA faced the dilemma of how to deal with its redundant and laid-off learners. And the other factor in the equation was Ofsted’s changes in emphasis, many of which were being felt last spring and summer, even though the new CIF had not yet come into force.

NETA had fallen into the trap of not reporting the employment situation adequately in its SAR. And equally, not highlighting the extensive work it had done to keep learners in employment and on programme during the recession. In addition, the peer review team picked up that, despite lots of quality interventions, not enough improvement was happening. We think it is fair to say that NETA found our feedback a little challenging, but it took it on the chin, dusted itself down and set about having another really good look at its provision.

Managers focused particularly on our feedback that quality activity was actually not integral to NETA’s processes; rather, it happened in parallel to the delivery of teaching, learning and assessment. Outputs from observations, audits and sampling needed to feed directly into robust, data-driven performance management. The same information needed to feed directly into an inclusive self-assessment process, resulting in stringent improvement targets, closely monitored during the year.

See the results of another year or so of work, in NETA’s Ofsted report on the Ofsted site. Feedback was particularly good on observation of teaching and learning, the quality of teaching, and the planning of learning to suit learner and employer needs. They even got good feedback on target-setting at reviews – a first, we believe, in the GTA network (we are sure you will correct us if we are wrong!). Add to this NETA’s excellent linking of training to employer and industry needs, and you have a winning formula.

Well done NETA! Now all you have to do is concentrate on the new Ofsted line – ‘this provider is not yet excellent because …’

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