Press release

Ofsted finds excellent FE teaching has never been more important

Ofsted report shows that consistently good or better teaching, learning and assessment has never been more significant for learners in FE.


The report, ‘Teaching, learning and assessment in further education and skills – what works and why’, looks at 20 outstanding providers in the sector, including general education and sixth form colleges, independent learning providers, employer providers and providers of community learning and skills. It highlights the key features which lead to outstanding provision of teaching, learning and assessment.

The further education and skills (FE and skills) sector has a fundamental role in supporting learners’ future economic prosperity and their promoting of social and educational inclusion. It is not unusual for learners who have not done well in formal education to move into the FE and Skills sector. For some, it is their last chance before they risk dropping out of education and training altogether. Learners, therefore, need the very best teaching to ensure they are on track and take the right next steps to secure a future of sustained employment.

Evidence from outstanding providers surveyed and from inspections shows that the key characteristics among providers with outstanding teaching, learning and assessment include:

  • sharply-focused leadership
  • consistently high quality teaching
  • high expectations of learners by all staff
  • strong levels of accountability
  • high-quality staff development

The visits to these outstanding providers also helped Ofsted to identify a number of areas for improvement across the sector that are hindering performance. These include:

  • relatively little outstanding practice in the teaching of English and mathematics
  • too little use of the expertise in teacher education departments in colleges to aid improvement actions
  • insufficient focus on staff development in work-based learning provision

Ofsted’s Director for Further Education and Skills, Lorna Fitzjohn, commented on the findings:

Today’s report shows that tremendous things are being achieved by teachers in the FE sector to help learners achieve the outcomes they need to get on in the working world. I would therefore like to commend the outstanding work of the providers Ofsted visited to inform this report.

However, the success of these providers also highlights the shortcomings in the sector. Factors such as the overall low standards in learners’ outcomes in English and mathematics only make it harder for learners to obtain the qualifications they need to hold them in good stead for the future.

As the report makes clear, many learners come into further education with a ‘chequered past’ in terms of their formal education. For some it is their last chance before they risk dropping out of education and training altogether. It is therefore vital that teaching in the sector improves so that learners get the best opportunities for success.

Along with identifying good practice, Ofsted has made several recommendations where improvement in teaching, learning and assessment is needed including:

  • leaders taking full responsibility for the quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • maintaining consistently high expectations of learners
  • giving English and mathematics a high profile across all programmes
  • ensuring that all provision helps learners develop the skills and knowledge they need to help them achieve sustained employment

In conjunction with the good practice report, a range of resources is being developed to support providers to improve their provision and help boost outcomes for learners across the sector.

Notes to Editors

  1. The report, ‘Teaching, learning and assessment in further education and skills – what works and why’, is available online.
  2. The learning and training providers visited were: Blackpool and Fylde College; Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College; CITB - Construction Skills; David Lewis College; Defence Equipment & Support, Defence Munitions (DM) Gosport; Foxes Academy; Hawk Management; John Ruskin College; Manchester Metropolitan University; QA Ltd; Rochdale Sixth Form College; Rochdale Training Association Limited; Rolls Royce; Runshaw College; Seashell Trust; Swindon College; The Working Men’s College; The Training and Learning Company; Walsall Adult And Community College; and Walsall College.
  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

Media enquiries

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Published 18 September 2014