Ofsted finds shortcomings in Wiser Academy's apprenticeship scheme


Wiser Academy CEO welcomes feedback and says changes will be implemented by the end of this month.

Wiser Academy is updating its apprenticeship programme after a report from Ofsted showed that too few apprentices are developing substantial new skills.

The education watchdog made a monitoring visit on 24 July this year and its report found that Wiser Academy’s leaders and managers do not plan the training programmes well enough to meet individual needs.

Crescens George, chief executive officer of Wiser Academy, welcomed the feedback and explained that the training provider had already started implementing changes to address the issues.

He told Insurance Age: “What we faced was a monitoring visit, which applies to new training providers in this space.

“It’s a support visit to identify how we are progressing towards the full inspection which will happen in 12 months’ time.”

Wiser Academy was established in 2014. The business has the same registered address as broker Be Wiser Insurance Services, and lists Be Wiser chairman Mark Bower-Dyke as one of its directors.

Last December, it launched Kick-Start, an apprenticeship-based training programme for people working in the insurance sector who are not yet qualified.

Ofsted warned that Wiser Academy had not set detailed development targets for individual apprentices or informed them about requirements for the different grades they could achieve in their qualifications.

It said in the report that “too few apprentices are developing substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours as a result of their apprenticeship programme”.

The education watchdog continued: “Managers who report on training sessions focus too much on what the trainer is doing and not on the learning and progress of apprentices. They do not identify actions for improvement and do not use their reports for staff development or appraisals. Because of this, any attempts to improve the quality of teaching and learning are unsuccessful.”

Ofsted stated that at the time of the visit, Wiser Academy had around 110 apprentices in training, nearly all of them aged over 19. Over half of the apprentices were studying senior financial customer adviser or insurance practitioner training programmes.

George commented: “We started delivering apprenticeships in 2018, so this is all new to us. There are things for us to learn and that’s why we value this monitoring visit and the recommendations from Ofsted.”

He explained that new rules for providing apprenticeships were introduced in 2017, and that it was a “steep learning curve” to comply with them.

“Some areas of the feedback we didn’t expect, but I can see what the government is trying to achieve by being so stringent with what they expect,” he continued.

“These are easy fixes, mostly administrative paperwork related. We’re confident we can fix this.”

According to George, Wiser Academy expects to complete all of the changes needed by the end of this month.

He concluded: “We request our clients and employers to work with us and support us in implementing some of the actions where it’s going to be a collaborative approach.”

According to its website, Wiser Academy is working in conjunction with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

However, a spokesperson from the CII told Insurance Age that the organisation does not work with Wiser Academy on the apprenticeship level.

Steve Jenkins, development director of the CII, said: “Concerns regarding apprenticeship delivery have been at the forefront of the CII’s apprenticeship agenda.

“We work with our preferred apprenticeship training providers on the CII Aspire apprenticeship programme to continuously monitor the quality of content and delivery – with the success of apprentices at the core.

“This does not include apprenticeship training providers not registered on the Aspire programme. Be Wiser Academy isn’t registered on the Aspire programme.”

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