A relentless focus on quality education

26 March 2019

An inclusive culture of high expectations sees apprentices challenged and supported to achieve their full potential at the University of Sheffield, according to a new report by Ofsted.

The report published today said there has been a ‘relentless focus’ on improving the quality of education apprentices receive at the AMRC Training Centre and weaknesses identified at a previous inspection have all been successfully addressed.

The University of Sheffield's apprenticeship provision, at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Training Centre, which is part of the AMRC Group in Rotherham, and School of Nursing and Midwifery was judged as ‘good’ in all areas by Ofsted inspectors following a full inspection last month.

Inspectors praised the centre’s leaders and managers for ‘successfully creating an inclusive culture of high expectations throughout the apprenticeship provision’ and for carefully planning the development of apprenticeship provision in a way that is ‘well aligned’ to the needs of employers.

“Apprentices benefit from very well-equipped training facilities in engineering and nursing, high-quality resources and knowledgeable teachers with strong industry experience,” the report adds. “Apprentices demonstrate the exemplary standards of behaviour expected of successful employees. They are courteous and helpful, attend well and work to deadlines effectively.”

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre is thrilled with the ‘good’ judgement from Ofsted and said it is testament to the hard work of apprentices, staff and the wider university.

“Since the last inspection we have been working relentlessly and I’m thrilled we are now on our journey towards becoming outstanding. We’re pleased inspectors recognised that we have made sustained and continuous improvement and can see how that is having real impact in the success and achievement of our apprentices.

“This result has been achieved by working hand-in-hand with the wider University of Sheffield, our Industry Board, employers and our apprentices – and we’re extremely grateful for that continued support.

“We’re meeting the skills needs of the economy through the careful way in which we have designed our curriculum and how we are delivering it around the regional need.

“The University of Sheffield, to the most senior level, is very positive about the quality of education for our apprentices and that’s demonstrated in this report. It shows that the Russell Group of Universities can make a real difference.

“What really stands out for me in this report is the recognition inspectors have given to our apprentices for their professionalism and exemplary behaviour. This means a great deal to us because we aren’t just engineering the advanced manufacturing workforce of the future but creating good citizens too.

“As the report found, we have successfully addressed all the weaknesses identified in the previous inspection and there is already an action plan in place to address the actions suggested for us to improve further. We’re looking forward to turning that good into outstanding.”

Keith Ridgway, founder and Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “This is great news for Nikki and her team and for the growing numbers of young people across our region who see engineering apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as a debt-free pathway to a challenging and rewarding career that makes a positive impact on the world around us.

“It’s great, too, that the report recognises how Nikki and her team have successfully created an inclusive culture of high expectations for our apprentices, and how this leads to exemplary standards of behaviour in apprentices who are confident, courteous and helpful, attend well and work to deadlines effectively. We produce great engineers and good citizens.

“As the report says, there is a significant need for skilled engineers in the region, both from indigenous companies and from inward investors who increasingly see the Sheffield City Region as the place to put down roots.

“This Ofsted report gives us all the more reason to want to widen access and participation both to meet the growing demand for skills and to open up new opportunities for communities in our region who can sometimes feel left behind and ignored.”

Outcomes for apprentices, according to the report, are good with a large majority of the current cohort ‘making rapid progress from their starting points and meet challenging targets’ with many achieving ‘high grades in their examinations’.

Inspectors also said leaders and managers have taken successful action to improve the retention of female engineering apprentices through targeted ‘Women in Engineering’ events and placing them with supportive employers that have strong female representation at all levels of the workforce.

The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good, along with the personal development, behaviour and welfare of apprentices.

The report says: “Teachers and trainers use their considerable academic knowledge and industrial experience well to help apprentices develop up-to-date knowledge and skills that effectively prepare them for their careers and future study at a higher level.

“A high proportion of apprentices gain valuable additional qualifications at work that develop their employability skills beyond the requirements of their apprenticeships.”

Since January 2014, 1,300 apprentices from more than 300 employers in the city region have been trained in engineering skills, along with 76 nursing apprentices, provision for which began last year.

Read the full report here: https://www.amrctraining.co.uk/ofsted

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