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Adviser academy scolded by Ofsted for second time

Adviser academy scolded by Ofsted for second time

The not-for-profit adviser academy run by SimplyBiz has found itself in hot water with the education inspector for the second year running amid concerns apprenticeships are receiving sub-par training. 

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills has criticised the New Model Business Academy for placing too much focus on apprentices passing their final exams and not enough on the skills and behaviours they may need in their future jobs as advisers and paraplanners. 

Following an inspection in October the education inspector warned managers at the academy had not ensured apprenticeships met the needs of apprentices or their employers.

As a result students had made "slow progress" in achieving the expected outcomes of their course. 

Ofsted said academy leaders had also failed to recognise the importance of both on and off-the-job training for apprentices. 

It is the second year running the academy, which began offering apprenticeships in 2018, has been criticised by Ofsted, with "insufficient progress" made on many of the same concerns raised by the inspector last year.  

Ofsted said: "Although leaders and managers recognise the strengths and weaknesses of their provision, they have been too slow to address weaknesses identified at the previous monitoring visit.

"The actions that they have taken, such as working with external partners to identify the improvements they need to make, have not had enough positive impact for apprentices and their employers.

"Managers ensure that staff are highly experienced in the financial sector. However, most staff are not appropriately skilled in the delivery of apprenticeships."

The education inspector warned apprentices were often "limited to working through specific chapters of a textbook" to prepare for their next exam. 

It also warned managers at the academy did not support apprentices to be more confident in their communication skills when dealing with clients.

At the time of Ofsted's visit in October the New Model Business Academy had 96 apprentices on level 4 standards-based apprenticeships, of which 78 were training to be financial advisers and 18 to be paraplanners.

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Richard Ardron, managing director at New Model Business Academy, said all students who had reached the end point assessment of their apprenticeship to date had graduated, with more than 60 per cent doing so with a distinction. 

Mr Ardron said: "We have made a significant investments – both financially and in terms of time - into developing  and improving the programme, including systems, training and resources, and we remain proud of the work the programme has done. 

"Since our launch, we have helped apprentices to pass over 300 CII exams, and saw our first apprentices graduate earlier this year.  

"The scope of an Ofsted apprenticeship inspection is very broad and includes a focus on some elements – including the maths and English skills of students – which fall more within the core expertise of professional bodies and schools. 

"Our core focus, and the expertise recognised in the Ofsted report, is the provision of specialist financial services training and knowledge."