A body run by mechanical engineering trade association B&ES has been slated by Ofsted

state of play

A body run by mechanical engineering trade association the Building and Engineering Services Association, which trains 1,000 apprentices a year, has been slated by education regulator Ofsted.

In a report following inspection in June, Ofsted rated the Building and Engineering Services Association’s (B&ES) vocational training provider “inadequate”, the lowest ranking.

Building Engineering Services Training Limited (BEST), which manages and delivers 1,000 apprentices a year, has actually regressed since a previous inspection, according to the Oftsed report, with managers having failed to take “effective action to rectify weaknesses identified”.

Acting head of BEST Tony Howard, who was appointed after the previous chief operating officer Steve Leighton left in July after six months in the job, said the organisation had put a strategy in place to address the issues identified.

BEST’s managers are reported by Ofsted as not having “sufficiently high expectations” for its apprentices.  

The report adds that “training staff and assessors do not check and improve the levels of apprentices’ written work or correct their incorrect use of written or spoken English”, and that they “do not challenge stereotypes” held by apprentices, such as that “a career in engineering is better suited to men”.

Managers and staff are also reported as not monitoring “individual apprentices’ development sufficiently” or helping them to “recognise and celebrate diversity”.

In contrast, the report does highlight that apprentices do develop their mathematical skills and recognises BEST for having strong partnerships with leading industry bodies and employers, which enable it to offer a range of industry relevant qualifications.

The inspection and report comes after BEST restructured its management and assessment teams to “bolster its delivery of apprenticeships” at the beginning of the year, following the £3.3m turnover organisation reporting a £122,000 loss in 2014.

Howard said the areas identified by Ofsted are “principally in relation to management systems and reporting processes”. He added: “We have put an immediate strategy in place to deliver an effective and timely response.”