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Services improving for further education and skills in Stoke-on-Trent

Published: Tuesday, 28th January 2020

Services for further education and skills in Stoke-on-Trent City Council are ‘improving’ says Ofsted, in a new report published recently.

All areas inspected were found to be either significantly improving or reasonably improving following a monitoring visit which took place earlier this month.

The new findings come following adult learning services being previously found to be ‘inadequate’ in July 2019. The monitoring visit was part of a standard Ofsted follow-up that looks to monitor how providers that are found to be inadequate are working to improve services.

The employment, learning and skills section which was inspected is part of learning services in the children and family services directorate. The service provides city-wide access to skills provision through adult and community learning programmes. Accredited adult learning programmes were the focus for this monitoring visit.

Areas considered during the monitoring visit were the progress:

  •  council leaders had made in improving the quality of the adult learning provision through more effective oversight of the service
  • senior leaders and managers had made in using management information to improve the quality of adult learning programmes
  • tutors had made in identifying adult learners’ starting points accurately and using them effectively
  • tutors had made in ensuring that adult learners developed significant new knowledge, behaviour and skills

Cllr Janine Bridges, cabinet member for economy and education said: “Following the disappointing Ofsted inspection last July, we moved swiftly to put the necessary improvements in place. It is good to see that this hard work is being recognised and starting to pay off. Ofsted recognised that either significant or reasonable progress was being made in the areas that we need to address.

“A new governing body is in place, there is better management information to inform the council’s approach and managing attendance and quality of data are all improving.  Ultimately and what’s most important is that we’re improving the service for the people in Stoke-on-Trent. We have recently been announced as the number one in the UK for jobs growth*. There is a direct link between economic growth and skills and a real need to ensure that we attract difference sectors to work in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s extremely positive to see that we’re starting to get back on track with our adult learning.

“We’re only part way through our improvement journey but it’s good to see that the hard work is starting to make a difference. We’re continuing to meet with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to help make the necessary changes and this will continue until such time as all issues have been addressed.

“The links between education, skills and a successful economy are well known. We want all adults and children to be able to able to access the best learning in Stoke-on-Trent and this takes us one step further to achieving this.”

The news of the monitoring visit outcomes comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council has committed to ensuring children are their number one priority, following an inadequate judgment from Ofsted in February 2019.

Since then a number of improvements have been put in place across the service. Sarah Parker is set to take up the role as the permanent director of children services from 3 February - Sarah was previously director for children’s services at Dorset Council. Two new permanent assistant director roles are also being recruited for.  

Full feedback from the monitoring visit by Ofsted is available at:

Full feedback from visit

For all media enquiries please contact Emma Rodgers in the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232309. (journalists only)