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‘Phenomenal’ Improvement in Learning and Skills


Standards of publicly-funded training for six million adults in England have improved dramatically, according to the Adult Learning Inspectorate.

However In his Annual Report, the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning David Sherlock warned that the progress made over the last five years could be reversed if constant changes to the infrastructure continue.

Sherlock also warned that completion rates of apprenticeships are too low, in some cases just 50%.

The key findings of the final ALI report were:

  • Standards have improved in all areas of learning and skills provision: ALI inspectors identified more outstanding providers than ever before.

  • Five years ago, 60% of work-based training providers failed inspection. Now nearly 90% succeed.

  • Programmes for the most disadvantaged people in society – highlighted in the past as woefully inadequate – have shown the greatest improvement.

  • Despite better standards of training, success rates for learners are still lagging behind; in some areas of work-based learning more than 50% of learners fail to complete their apprenticeship.

David Sherlock said: “This year we can celebrate a phenomenal improvement in the performance of the learning and skills sector. Learning provision for adults is better, more varied, more closely linked to achieving fulfilment in life and work and more inclusive of our people than ever before.

“In the past I have highlighted woefully inadequate provision for the most disadvantaged people in our society – for offenders, adults with low literacy and numeracy, those with disabilities and the long-term unemployed. I am delighted to report that this year all these areas have improved dramatically.”

But, in his last report as Chief Inspector, before the Adult Learning Inspectorate is merged with Ofsted in April 2007, Sherlock warned against too much change.

“One thing has become absolutely clear to the ALI over the past five years – continuous improvement demands continuity,” he said.

“If, in my last report, I can make one plea to the government, it is to build on the successful model of work-based learning, allowing incremental change and evolution. We need to spend more time on research, planning and development so that when we do introduce new schemes of work, new types of learning, we get it right first time.”


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