Officials are proposing to introduce a new “skills measure” that will capture how well a college is delivering courses that the economy needs as part of its funding and accountability reforms, a consultation on which was launched Thursday 15 July 2021.

While the metrics for this new measure are yet to be developed, the Department for Education (DfE) expects that Ofsted will want to consider the new skills measure when deciding which colleges to inspect, by taking the new measure into account in its risk-based assessment for planning inspections.  According to the consultation, this will ensure that inspections have a greater focus on how well providers support individuals into good jobs and meet the needs of the local labour market, alongside evaluating the quality of education and training.

The DfE makes clear that inspecting how well a college is meeting skills needs should be in addition, and not substitute for, the important job Ofsted already does to inspect the quality of education and training.  Officials are currently working with the watchdog to explore how its approach to inspection which currently assesses meeting local skills needs through ‘leadership and management’ and ‘quality of education’ judgements can best be enhanced.

Options currently being looked at include increasing the frequency of full inspections from a five year to a three-year cycle; and making meeting local skills needs a more prominent feature within Ofsted’s inspection framework so that it can reach a clear judgement on how well a college is performing on this objective.  The new measure will be based upon skills, to capture how well a college is aligning its technical provision with local and national skills needs.