National Apprenticeship Awards

The National Apprenticeship Awards are now open for applications. The closing date is 28th July. GMLPF is sure that there are many members with apprentices and employers who are worthy of an award. Find out more at or click on the links below for some useful material to use in promoting the awards, and encouraging businesses and individuals to apply:

Could you be an award-winning apprentice

Could you be an award-winning employer

National Apprenticeship Awards presentation

National Apprenticeship Awards overview


Ofsted Update 14 07 21

GMLPF attended the recent NW FES Ofsted Reference Group meeting. Key messages of interest to members are as follows:


Follow Up From Last Meeting
  • Sub-contracting and use of associates
    It was reiterated that providers need to be open and transparent about the use of sub-contractors and associates in the delivery of learning and for them to comply with all ESFA requirements. Ofsted will continue to look at the performance and quality of sub-contractors and associates where delivery is on behalf of a prime contractor.
  • Provider Closures and Transfer of Learners
    The latter point was raised by GMLPF representatives as an increasing area of concern ie increased numbers of failing providers and learners (within those providers) not being assisted in a timely fashion to be transferred and assisted to continue in learning. Ofsted shares the concern that this is becoming a significant issue with some 200 providers ceasing to trade over the last 36+ months. Accordingly, ESFA is meeting at both a national and regional level with ESFA and with IFATE too in order to flag up this issue and to explore how learner transfers can be facilitated more effectively
  • Increased Volume of Learners awaiting EPA and increased volume of learners who are Out Of Funding
    Again Ofsted have taken this on board and are flagging this up as an issue with their inspectors through training to support their programme of inspections moving forward. Providers are encouraged to compile evidence of this issue and its impact so that it can be shared with inspection teams, and the issues better understood, in the event of an inspection
Ofsted’s Plans for Inspection

Ofsted is currently rolling out a programme of training for their Ofsted inspectors to support the full programme of inspection starting in September 2021 onwards, Covid permitting. In the interim, Ofsted appears to be focusing on those new providers awaiting their first NPMV (this seems to be a diminishing number now though) and new providers who have had a monitoring visit (possibly also an interim monitoring visit this year) and who are awaiting a first full inspection.


Experience of the latter group of inspections suggests that the results and experience are generally ok and that, to date, that there have not been any significant issues or trends. Ofsted is suggesting that where inspections are taking place they are trying to be as pragmatic as possible and are working around Covid. Whilst their preference is for face-to-face engagement of providers, employers and learners they are willing to accommodate 100% remote interviews.


A full programme of inspections will commence from September 2021. Arrangements for inspection of remote education (expected to continue for some time still), use of external data and new priorities ie sexual harassment as part of safeguarding is all covered in the new handbook. Members should be familiar with the updated handbook – Further education and skills handbook for September 2021 – GOV.UK (


Members should also familiarise themselves with the deferral policy currently being operated by Ofsted. In the current circumstances, where Covid is an issue or disrupting operations, providers can ask for a deferral. The policy is here Deferring Ofsted inspections – GOV.UK (


Ofsted made it clear that maintaining the Covid safety of their inspection teams, providers, learners and employers is of paramount importance so they will consider deferral where it is appropriate.


Inspection Outcomes Update

Usually, Ofsted provides NW figures on this but this time they provided a national overview. Some interesting points emerged. Some 146 out of 718 Monitoring Visits resulted in an Insufficient Progress judgement or 20%. Only 70 or just less than 10% received Significant Progress. Safeguarding, whilst not the primary driver of Insufficient Progress judgements, remains a real cause for concern with approximately 1 in 3 providers who are making Insufficient Progress having insufficient progress in the area of safeguarding.


Of 1113 Independent Learning Providers only 451 have received a full inspection. This highlights the large volume of ILPs still awaiting a first full inspection and accounts for Ofsted’s increased emphasis on this group of providers currently and from September onwards. Approximately two-thirds of these were graded Good.


Increasing Capacity

Ofsted is currently rolling out training to new and existing Ofsted Inspectors to enable them to build up increased capacity and capability to catch up on its programme of work and to roll out the programme of inspections from September including new inspections of Level 6 and 7 provision.


Provider Improvement Fund (PIF) Opportunity: Governance Training

As part of the launch of the Provider Improvement Fund which is funded by ESF and SIF, Greater Merseyside Learning Providers’ Federation wishes to procure the services of a training organisation to deliver a bespoke Peer Governance training programme for a small group of providers based in the Liverpool City Region.

In recent years, culminating in the publication of Ofsted’s EIF, there has been a much greater emphasis on Independent Learning Providers putting in place robust governance arrangements that provide both scrutiny and challenge and ensure that the provider is delivering high quality and relevant learning programmes.

Locally, a small group of learning providers have collaborated to take forward a peer governance model. Specifically, through this tender, GMLPF wishes to procure a focused, challenging and stimulating yet intensive ie ½ day CPD programme for those LCR based learning providers involved in the peer governance project and support them to access bespoke training that will enable them to effectively fulfil their governor roles and support the learning providers that they are working with.

All documentation for this tender can be downloaded below:

PIF Tender UTN 2 Governance Training

PIF Tender Response UTN 2 Governance Training

PIF Tender References UTN 2

PIF Tender Evaluation Methodology UTN 2

Closing date: 5pm 21st July 2021


PIF Opportunity: Training Facilities Hire

Over the next 15 months, GMLPF will be commissioning a wide range of training programmes for learning providers locally. We are keen to ensure that we use high quality and cost-effective facilities across the Liverpool City Region but also to try to and maximise social value by working with local facilities providers.

If you can think of a local venue that might be suitable for use, please contact us or, if you feel your organisation could offer a suitable venue, please complete and return the Expression of Interest form below:

Download PIF Opportunity UTN RH1 Form

Provider Improvement Fund (PIF) Opportunity: Project Management Support

As part of the ESF and SIF funded Provider Improvement Fund project, GMLPF has secured some funding to provide some project management support. Initially, and to help drive the project forward and gather momentum initially, GMLPF is looking to appoint somebody (possibly on secondment, somebody who is a freelance or self-employed) on a contract basis, buying in a bank of days support. A second role may take the form of an individual being appointed on a fixed-term basis for 12 months.

Whilst this opportunity will be disseminated more widely via local networks and social media we would be grateful if you could share this amongst your own networks to help us promote and gather interest in the role.

All the documentation for the Provider Improvement Fund (PIF) Project Management Support Opportunity Ref UTN S1 is available below:

PIF Tender Description UTN S1

PIF Tender Response Documentation UTN S1

PIF Tender References UTN S1

PIF Tender Evaluation Methodology UTN S1

The closing date is 21st July 2021.

GMLPF awarded £500K to support regional skills providers with unique development programme

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) is proud to announce that it has been awarded the contract to deliver a £500k Provider Improvement Fund. This project is funded through the European Social Fund (ESF) and Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) and is being taken forward in conjunction with the Liverpool City Region Mayoral Combined Authority.


The Provider Improvement Fund (PIF) programme runs from June 2021 to September 2022 and will be financed by the European Social Fund and Strategic Investment Fund via the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Skills and Apprenticeship Hub project.


The PIF programme will offer a comprehensive portfolio of CPD resources and support to all LCR-based learning providers with registered offices, employees or delivery hubs located in the region. The focus will be on the provision of CPD to our region’s learning providers. Specifically, objectives are to improve the quality and delivery of post-16 education, enhance the relevance of learning provision (apprenticeships in particular), build the capacity of providers, develop their performance through the review of quality assurance processes, and upskill provider employees to improve the delivery of existing and future curriculum areas.


GMLPF will manage the funding to deliver training and support programmes where impact is likely to be most significant. Initial emphasis will be on quality assurance, leadership and management training, tutor training and curriculum development, boosting English, maths and digital skills, improving mental health awareness, increasing employer engagement, developing new and improved standards, and improving governance, audit and compliance processes.

Ian Lomas, CEO of GMLPF, comments: 

“This latest contract win is not only hugely positive for GMLPF, our members and the wider learning provider community; it also signifies a terrific boost to our sector’s post-pandemic recovery.

” We welcome the financial support from the European Social Fund and the Strategic Investment Fund and the commitment of the LCR Mayoral Combined Authority to channel investment into the local provider base, working collaboratively with GMLPF. The Provider Improvement Fund will allow providers to raise standards and drive their businesses forward and innovate.”


Bev Ellis is Training Director at TRS Training, a local apprenticeships provider specialising in logistics and warehousing. She acknowledges the positive impact the new PIF programme will have on providers and employees alike. She comments:

“We are delighted to hear about the launch of the new Provider Improvement Fund in Liverpool City Region. With its focus on improving the quality, capacity and standard of skills training by developing learning provider capability, it promises to boost the learning experience for young people and adults across the region. This unprecedented investment in the development of skills provider staff will be a crucial driver for the success of programmes like Apprenticeships.

“We would like to thank both the LCR Mayoral Combined Authority and GMLPF for creating this unique opportunity, and of course the European Social Fund  and Strategic Investment Fund for financing the programme.”


GMLPF has already been in consultation with providers throughout the Liverpool City Region and is looking to start an initial programme of CPD but will be rolling out a more detailed programme of research to help shape a calendar of CPD to be available on the GMLPF website.

If you are an LCR based learning provider who wants to know more about the programme or a supplier of CPD courses that might be of interest to providers wishing to develop their staff, please contact [email protected]



Ofsted Update

Members should have automatically received this update from Ofsted, which was sent out week commencing 28th June regarding an updated Education and Skills Inspection handbook. Of note is the increased focus on sexual harassment as part of an inspection and extended inspection intervals.

Ofsted has revised its further education and skills inspection handbook with effect from 1 September 2021. You can view this here:

In the meantime, the version of the handbook published on 19 April remains in use until 31 August 2021:

The key changes to come into effect from 1 September 2021 are as follows:

  • Safeguarding and sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse

The safeguarding section (paragraphs 268 to 279) under ‘Leadership and management’ is updated to take into account the findings and recommendations of Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges in the context of further education and skills provision. It is recommended that you read this section. This includes, in particular, a new section entitled: ‘Sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse between learners who are children or young people’ added at paragraphs 275 to 279 which applies specifically to colleges (ie GFECs and SFCs). This explains what inspectors will evaluate in the light of the findings and recommendations of the review report. It includes the expectation that we will meet with groups of learners, in particular single-sex groups, as part of the inspection of safeguarding (see paragraph 119) and confirms that we will ask for and look at cases of sexual abuse/ harassment incidents (just as we might for other safeguarding cases, paragraph 132).

  • Transitional arrangements

The transitional arrangements we currently apply to take account of the impact of Covid are extended, with necessary modifications, to cover the transitional recovery period up to March 2022 (see paragraphs 10 to 24). It is recommended that you read this section.

  • Continued return to full inspection activity

Ofsted intends to return to a full programme of inspection activity, including full inspections of all types of provider, from the autumn term 2021, subject to an early review of conditions in September.

  • Extended inspection intervals on account of COVID-19

When Ofsted published the handbook in April 2021, they included extended inspection intervals to make allowance for the impact of COVID-19 and the fact that Ofsted had to suspend inspection activity from March 2020 (and is now making a phased return to full inspection activity). This is a reminder that the extended intervals are expressed in terms of ‘within’ a timescale. That still means Ofsted may inspect at any point ’within’ that timescale. Full details are provided within the further education and skills inspection handbook.

View the main extensions/ changes to timescales (for specific details please refer to the handbook).


Careers Information Portal: Be-More

The Be More portal has been in development and evolving over the last 24 months or so. The LCRCA’s aspiration is for the website to become the ‘go to’ resource for localised careers content and guidance. The expansion of programmes such as Traineeships and the introduction of T-Levels means that the portal is continually evolving. As such, the LCR CA is reviewing how it might be developed in the next phase and they are taking an evidence-based approach to needs prior to putting the final next stage technical specification to address what LCR stakeholders want. As such;

  • LCRCA Evidence, Research and Intelligence Team will be running some closed workshops with attendees from across the LCR.
  • In conjunction with this, the CA have launched an online survey which opens on 2nd July. The link to the survey is here.

There is plenty of information around the issues of careers IAG engagement, however the above will be specifically focusing on how LCR stakeholders (learners, employers, IAG practitioners, provider etc…) would look to engage with an LCR focused portal.

GMLPF would urge members to complete the survey and provide input into this vital subject area.

Ofsted Update May 2021

GMLPF attended Ofsted’s NW FES meeting last week

Apprenticeships seem very much to be the current focus of Ofsted’s inspection work. Inspectors are trying to catch up with the number of new providers who are still awaiting a New Provider Monitoring Visit (NPMV). Key messages/actions that emerged from the meeting are:

  • Providers should complete and return the Provider Survey if they haven’t already done so. IMPORTANTLY, this allows providers to indicate when an inspection visit would not be welcome.
  • The EIF framework and handbook is being reviewed and updated to reflect findings of 25-30 pilot inspections taking place across the country (including with two GMLPF members). Ofsted is keen to look at the impact of Covid on PDBW
  • There are still approximately 100 new Apprenticeship providers expecting an NPMV (some 20 in the NW). Ofsted is prioritising this group over the coming months.
  • Ofsted has lifted the  “pause” on NHS Apprenticeship providers (Covid saw all inspections/visits to NHS providers halted). Providers in the health sector can now expect to be inspected/visited again.
  • Over the last year, it is estimated that 138 Apprenticeship providers have ceased trading. In many cases, this is due to insufficient progress made in two primary areas: safeguarding and quality of education. An associated issue is the difficulties that learners (based with providers who have ceased training) face in transferring to other providers. The system is too slow and cumbersome. In other words, the lack of prompt support makes it harder to “rehome” learners.
  • Risk Assessments: performance and QAR data are less critical in identifying which providers are chosen for inspection. Ofsted will look at the areas of provision and the length of time since last inspection when identifying which providers will be inspected.
  • Inspection intervals: Covid and the lack of inspection activity over the last 12 -15 months has led to the modification of the inspection cycle as outlined in this table. Based on the table and discussions at the meeting, four groups of providers locally may be prioritised for inspection/visit once they resume:
    • New providers
    • Providers who have received an NPMV but not their first full inspection
    • Providers graded good but who were anticipating a short inspection between March 2020 and July 2021
    • Outstanding providers last inspected before September 2015


Traineeship providers: information request from ESFA

The ESFA has written to networks like GMLPF to ask for support in delivering Traineeships. 

In July 2020, the Chancellor announced a significant expansion of Traineeships as part of his Plan for Jobs.  The Government have increased and extended this drive until 31 July 2022, providing an additional £126m for the 2021/2022 academic year. This boost will help meet increased demand from young people who have fewer employment choices or opportunities available due to the Covid pandemic. We expect to see this investment help young people prepare for employment and apprenticeships through a combination of sector-focused skills development and work experience in line with international best practice.

High-quality Traineeships are a gateway to employment and apprenticeships for young people and are critical to driving and supporting economic recovery. Learning providers’ contribution to the success of Traineeships is vital. You can help in two key ways:


  1. Forecasting and planning assumptions over the next 18-months

ESFA asks Traineeship providers to complete a survey to build intelligence on the trajectory of planned and actual starts.  The information you provide will be treated confidentially and used only to support the management of the Traineeships programme and inform investment and growth beyond July 2022. 

Please complete the survey at the link below between the 1st and 12th of each month, reporting on figures for the previous month.

Traineeship Survey


  1. Supporting the Delivery of ‘your’ Traineeship Programme

 ESFA is updating the list of Traineeship providers on the website to include additional details, making it easier for young people, employers and referral agencies to find local programmes. 

To ensure your listing is comprehensive, please email the following information to [email protected] by the end of this week.

  • Your provider name
  • The region or regions in which you deliver Traineeships
  • A list of the towns and/or cities you are providing traineeships
  • A link to your website
  • Your email address (generic email address able to answer FAQs around Traineeships)
  • Your contact number (a number that can handle an enquiry on Traineeships for you)