Regulator blasts standards at adviser academy

Regulator blasts standards at adviser academy

The education regulator has criticised the standards of training provided at an academy run by SimplyBiz.

The New Model Business Academy, which is run on a not-for-profit-basis by the outsourcer was criticised by Ofsted for having a programme which it said was not “sufficiently structured.”

It criticised the academy for not having a programme that would allow trainees to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours and instead focusing solely on enabling them to pass exams.

It also criticised the managers for failing to monitor the quality of the programme which means they are "unable to make improvements where required".

Ofsted did however recognise the academy's efforts to ensure appropriate staffing resources to provide apprenticeships and and the fact staff are highly experienced in the financial sector.

But it said most were not sufficiently experienced in delivering apprenticeships.

In response to the report Richard Ardron, marketing director at SimplyBiz, said: “We have taken on board the feedback and are already working to make improvements, which students and their employing firms should see almost immediately.

"We expect to have made all the necessary improvements within three months and, in the meantime, we continue to work both with firms and their apprentices to ensure that everyone has the very best support as they progress through the programme."

Ofsted's report was carried out in September as part of monitoring visits to all newly directly funded providers of apprenticeship training.

The New Model Business Academy began to deliver apprenticeships in April 2018 and received funding from the government in July.  

At the time of the monitoring visit, 113 apprentices were on Level 4 apprenticeships of whom 103 were on financial adviser programmes and 10 were on paraplanner programmes.

The report stated: “Leaders and managers do not provide a sufficiently structured programme to enable apprentices to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours.

"The initial part of the apprenticeship, often lasting twelve months, focuses solely on enabling apprentices to pass examinations.

"Apprentices do not have sufficient opportunity to develop their skills and behaviours and apply them in the workplace until they have passed all their examinations.

"Managers do not have an oversight of the progress that apprentices make in developing their skills and knowledge. They only review apprentices’ performance in passing examinations.

"Managers do not ensure that apprenticeship development managers (ADMs) provide feedback to apprentices or their employers on apprentices’ progress or what apprentices need to do to improve their work.”

Ofsted said most apprentices made slow progress and too many continued in learning beyond their planned end date.

When apprentices fall behind, managers do not use effective interventions to enable them to catch up quickly, the report alleged.

It stated: "Too few apprentices develop the skills and behaviours that they need to be successful financial advisers.

"ADMs plan for apprentices to focus on passing examinations in the first twelve months of the programme by completing theoretical study.