Bedfordshire Employment and Skills Service rated ‘good’ in Ofsted inspection
Date Added: 10/05/2016
The Bedfordshire Employment and Skills Service (formerly Bedfordshire Adult Skills and Community Learning Service, or BASCL) has been rated 'Good' following its March 2016 Ofsted inspection.
The service, which is delivered by Central Bedfordshire Council across Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough, has maintained its 2011 rating of ‘Good’, having gone through a comprehensive transformation to refocus provision away from leisure topics and towards targeted support for unemployed residents and those with skills below level 2.
Responding to pressures, such as reductions in budgets, the service focuses on the skills that local businesses require and those which residents need to get back into work – the mixture of accredited and non-accredited programmes include basic skills around English, maths and ICT up to Level 2 and sector based programmes supporting growth.
In recognising this achievement, the Ofsted report, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills, noted that, 'managers have fundamentally reviewed the service’s learning programmes, commissioning arrangements and management structure over the last two years with a view to sharpening its focus on employment, work preparation and local regeneration. They have done this effectively, with the direction and planning of the service informed well by the local area economic strategy. Adult learning is a valued contributor to wider council economic objectives.'
It added that the service has 'succeeded in attracting and retaining' learners from the 'most deprived areas across Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough, and those who are unemployed, economically inactive or have not attained a full level 2 qualification.'
There was also recognition from adult learners, many of whom display barriers to learning such as low self-esteem and in some cases mental health issues, who, 'comment positively on how tutors and support staff make them feel welcome, valued and therefore more likely to work towards positive outcomes.'
The report concluded that, 'adult learning forms a key element of the business and regeneration aspect of the council’s work and is well integrated with wider council objectives’, adding that the service has 'a clear focus on preparation for employment and is informed by the local area economic strategy’.
Cllr Mark Versallion, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: "We have always been focused on delivering the right services for our communities and businesses. This Ofsted rating is a welcome recognition of a remarkable achievement that, while we were able to affect a rapid transformation of our Employment and Skills Service, it was very much ‘business as usual’ for all our customers.
"I can only commend our Employment and Skills Service for going consistently above and beyond to ensure this essential review process was simply a seamless improvement as far as our customers were concerned.”