After a monitoring visit, Educationwise put everything into creating the best learner experience and received Ofsted Outstanding on their first full visit.



Months Ofsted turn-around

Grade 1

Ofsted Outstanding


Achievement rates for learners with high needs

The context

Educationwise are a Bristol-based apprenticeship levy provider offering high quality opportunities in a variety of industries, from Sports Coaching to Engineering across Level 2 to Level 6.

They are a forward-thinking provider, with a focus on using technology and inclusive remote delivery to create a seamless learner experience and maintain an engaging and ambitious offering.

As a relatively new provider, they were not expecting the Ofsted call for another year, but their monitoring visit the year before had already set many changes in motion.

Luckily, the team felt 90% prepared when Ofsted called for their first full inspection, and we spoke to Head of Education and Quality at Educationwise, Nick Preston, about the Ofsted inspection experience.


The challenge

In their monitoring visit with Ofsted, the team at Educationwise knew which areas they needed improve to ensure they continued to build the highest quality offering to their clients and the best experience for learners.

They knew learner support was one of these areas.

They were able to show reasonable progress in all areas, which, considering that they didn’t have any achievers at the time because of the organisation’s infancy, showed the promise of their offering.

The team were confident that they could improve but wanted to look for ways to identify and support greater numbers of learners.

Nick Preston discussed what was happening:

“Beforehand, we had some support. We still had the monthly one to one’s and additional sessions for those learners, but we didn’t really have the strategies or the assessment tool to highlight exactly where support was needed.

“We only highlighted those learners that made us aware that they had additional learning needs, or some teachers may have had an inkling that we needed to do something. But without that evidence, it was very difficult to ensure we were identifying every learner.”


The solution

Giving learners a vigorous initial assessment and enrolment process was key for Educationwise, as Nick Preston explained:

“Learners go through a cognitive assessment using Cognassist, Functional Skills through BKSB, a training needs analysis against the appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours on Onefile and a pen portrait on our Blossom Skills platform to identify which areas that could affect a learner’s progression. It’s an intensive process, but it’s to make sure that we get the right learner on the right programme.”

Educationwise had excellent examples to show Ofsted that they were moving learners who were coming through onto the most appropriate provision.

Making Cognassist part of their initial processes and embedding it into their weekly data reporting became part of their best practices:

“The real difference has been having it embedded at the very start. Learners that have really engrossed themselves into it from the beginning have seen the power of it and it’s been able to support them, not only in their work but around their life and dealing with different areas. We found that with our functional skills as well.

“We were praised in the report that functional skills are embedded at the day one; whereas, we noticed 12 months ago that trying to leave learners a couple of months to just settle into their apprenticeship and then put functional skills in was not a good approach. So we replicated that with the Cognassist assessment as well.”

Training for staff was also an important aspect:

“Cognassist is a powerful tool when used correctly, but if you don’t buy into it as a team, you won’t get the most out of it – like any system or software. We were very heavy on our training and making sure it’s promoted out to our learners and our employers. It just became another process. It didn’t become an additional task that people could choose, it was actually part of our system and process of our tutor journey.”

The outcomes

“At the start of the apprenticeship, tutors also check carefully whether apprentices need any additional support. Tutors use this information very skilfully to adapt their teaching, both with individuals and with groups. Consequently, apprentices make significant progress in learning the content of the curriculum.” – His Majesty’s Inspectors


The outcomes truly speak for themselves. An Outstanding rating in all four Ofsted judgements, just 12 months after their first apprentice successfully completed their end-point assessment.

As Head of Quality and Education, this was a huge win for Nick Preston and his team, and he shared their reaction to the news:

“There was shock initially and when we got over that it was a real time to celebrate with the team, who worked so hard since forming. For our first observation, we were really pushing for good. We were happy that we were in a good position. We never mentioned the word Outstanding and that was not even something we were even aiming for in the moment. And then the Inspector starts saying, ‘we’re going to start to look at the outstanding framework.’ It was really something.”

On the last day of their Ofsted inspection, their inspector requested achievement data for learners with SEND or high needs.

From Cognassist’s perspective, we’re pleased to see that Ofsted are actively looking at providers’ achievement data for all learners, and Nick Preston reflected this sentiment:

“It was a huge focus, especially when we started looking at the Outstanding criteria and the difference we saw with what our recognised learners with additional support requirements were achieving.

“Our learners are on track whether they have additional learning needs or not. Learners that had additional learning needs were still passing first time and still passed at the highest level of achievement. One of the big factors is being able to show that all learners were able to achieve their maximum. We do everything to make sure every learner can have their own journey – It’s not one size fits all.”

Educationwise’s experiences highlighted the focus that Ofsted is increasingly placing on supporting different learning needs and ensuring the highest outcomes for all learners, especially when it comes to reaching Outstanding.

It is our privilege to work with many amazing providers like Educationwise, who continue to build inclusive and ambitious learning opportunities for learners and see that learner support is an integral part of providing quality in education.

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