Employment & Skills services rated ‘outstanding’ in latest Ofsted report

Ofsted outstanding provider logo

Our Education and training services have received high praise from government inspectors Ofsted as they were rated ‘outstanding’ in a report published today.

The rating follows a thorough inspection of the council’s adult skills provision and employer provider apprenticeship programme, and sees the team reach the highest level of achievement. In doing so, Leeds becomes the first local authority in England to receive an outstanding rating in this area since the implementation of a new education inspection framework in 2019. It also builds on the previous ‘good’ rating the service received in 2013.

The service was awarded outstanding for all six assessment areas, including; the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, adult learning programmes and apprenticeships.

The report states that in Leeds, adult learners gain valuable skills, which often transform their lives. It continues to praise the service for learners benefiting from a “highly ambitious curriculum that meets a diverse range of needs across the city, widens participation in learning, improves life chances and develops stronger communities.”

One of those who has successfully benefitted from adult learning through the programme is Verginia Lazarencu, who now volunteers at a food bank in Leeds.

Verginia said:

“I moved to Leeds two years ago from Romania. I started a course with Leeds City Council to help me to improve my English and digital skills. The course helped me to develop my skills, but it also helped me to make new friends, and to learn more about Leeds and the support that is available in the community where I live.

“I learnt about where to find help, and where to find job and volunteering opportunities and I started working with a careers advisor. I developed confidence in myself, improved my skills, and started using these skills by volunteering at some of the organisations that helped me. I now volunteer at Nowell Mount Community Centre food bank, and with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller team, and at the Harehills Bowling Club.

“I try to encourage others I meet to get involved in volunteering. My volunteering work takes lots of dedication, but being able to put a smile on a child’s face or a simple ‘thank you’ from the people I am able to help makes me feel really proud of the volunteering work that I do. To my teachers, careers advisor, volunteers and all the new friends I have made over the last two years, I would like to say ‘thank you’ for the help you have given me. I am now able to support other people in my community and have learnt more new skills and made new friendships along the way.”

In the last academic year, nearly 3,500 Leeds residents were able to access community learning opportunities across the city through the service. These courses work to improve people’s skills, prepare them for more formal learning or jobs and to improve their confidence and wellbeing. Of those taking part, the pass rate is over 95 per cent with 80 per cent reporting a positive outcome in terms of moving on to further learning or a job opportunity. This community learning also helps those with limited previous educational attainment, as more than 62 per cent of those taking part have no previous formal qualifications.

The service also offers apprenticeships for development within Leeds City Council, with a 100 per cent pass rate in this area, 57 per cent earning highest-level distinctions and 58 per cent progressing to more senior roles since completing their course.

Inspectors said that senior leaders and staff in Leeds have created a “highly effective personal and social development programme for learners and apprentices which supports them well for their future employment and in their everyday lives.” The role of teachers on the courses were highlighted for commendation as they “consistently and extensively promote the personal development of learners and apprentices.”

Inspectors also praised the work done to support learners to achieve aspiring and personalised targets relevant to their skills, age and phase of education. They were impressed that the learners were motivated and empowered to make the transition to further learning or employment. Commendation was also given for the work done to deliver highly effective, bespoke programmes to support the most vulnerable learners to access education through careful work with sub-contractors.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education said: 

“We are delighted with this rating, and glowing feedback. It shows the huge amount of work that has been put into this service to achieve such as excellent result. I am so pleased that the hard work of all our dedicated staff and partners has been recognised so congratulations and thanks to everyone involved.

“In Leeds we are passionate about supporting people to thrive, be that through new skills or encouragement and education about career options and how to find and get into work.

“Our Future Talent Plan has played a large and successful part of the collaboration happening across the city to ensure we leave no-one behind when it comes to skills and opportunities."

The Ofsted assessment further underlines the contribution of the employment and skills service to the council’s Best City Ambition, helping to tackle poverty and inequality and improving the lives of learners in Leeds. The service works with a wide range of partners including the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the NHS, skills providers and employers as part of the delivery of inclusive growth to offer opportunities for all in the local economy.

The full Ofsted report can be viewed here: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50238338