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Ofsted inspection finds improvement in adult and community learning but still more to be done

Published: Thursday, 4th November 2021

Ofsted inspection finds improvement in adult and community learning but still more to be done

An Ofsted inspection of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s adult and community learning has found positive progress is being made although there is more still to be done according to a report published today (Thursday, 4 November).


The service, which offers language and numeracy training and vocational courses offering a direct route to employment opportunities, was inspected between 28 September and 1 October 2021.


The Adult and Community Learning Service offers a range of daytime and evening courses across seven venues within the city. The majority of courses are non-accredited although do provide the initial steps for learners on a range of subjects from literacy and numeracy to specifically designed vocational courses. In addition, there is a very small cohort of learners on study programmes, traineeships and apprenticeships.


Through the service, individuals are also offered the opportunity to address social isolation issues and improve their mental health, issues that have been magnified as a result of the pandemic.

The inspection assessed a number of areas across the whole service including the quality of education; behaviours and attitudes; personal development; educational programmes for young people and adult learning programmes – all of which they considered to be ‘good.’

The report says: “Council leaders understand clearly the educational and skills needs of the region. They work with partners on local skills and education boards. They have also completed their own local skills needs analysis with employers.”

However, inspectors found that further improvements should be made to the overall leadership and management of the service as well as the city’s apprenticeship programme. As a result, the overall rating for the service has been confirmed as ‘requires improvement.’

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “It’s really positive to receive a ‘good’ rating in the majority of areas that have been inspected. While I am obviously disappointed that we didn’t achieve ‘good’ overall for this service, there has clearly been considerable improvement across the board since the service was last inspected with improvements in all areas.

“We’ve got a clear vision and action plan in place with a strong front-line team that is already delivering for people across the city. I am confident that we will be able to address the small number of areas needed in relatively short timescales for the benefit of our learners, building on the strong foundations that are already in place.

“Positive progress is being made and we’re determined to continue this drive for improvement, making sure that our communities have access to the very best quality services, for the benefit of residents in this city.”

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “Great strides have already been made in this area and that was clear to see throughout the inspection. I was delighted to hear such positive feedback from inspectors in so many areas. 

“We have already taken action to start addressing Ofsted’s recent feedback, including preparing a more comprehensive curriculum plan and self-assessment, as well as reviewing our quality assurance arrangements. We will agree and monitor a full action plan to drive continued improvement and deliver the best possible service for learners. We will also be looking at those aspects of the service that Ofsted inspectors found to be ‘Good’ to plan how we can make them ‘Outstanding’.

“Post pandemic and to help address the personnel shortages we have in many areas of our economy, I hope that adult learners in the city will make the best of the opportunity to gain more skills. Using our now good teaching and learning experience will be invaluable in helping them to obtain their jobs of choice.”