Ofsted: Training provider not doing enough to prevent radicalism

A North West training provider has been blasted by watchdogs for not warning most of its students against the risks of taking part in extremist activities.
ProCos chief executive Carol HalfordProCos chief executive Carol Halford
ProCos chief executive Carol Halford

Ofsted found staff at ProCo NW Ltd in Wigan had carried out “appropriate training” in protecting students from the dangers of radicalisation.

But they said managers had not ensured assessors and tutors were “skilful enough” to develop students’ understanding “of what can cause radicalisation and the risks of taking extremist actions”.

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The Ofsted report states: “Few apprentices and learners understand the impact of holding radical views or taking part in extremist activities.

“Assessors and tutors do not make these risks relevant to apprentices’ and learners’ everyday experiences.”

But ProCo’s chief executive Carol Halford said she was “a little surprised” that it was raised as an issue in the report.

She said: “We have done a lot of training with the learners. We have tutorials built into our timetables and we always cover things to do with Prevent. We do talk about radicalisation and extremism, we talk about them being safe online. The report says they do feel safe online.

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“I did raise that as a concern because that’s not the feedback we have from our learners, that they don’t understand it.”

ProCo is an independent not-for-profit learning provider with sites at Wigan Skills Centre, Central Park and Montrose Skills Hub, as well as at Wycombe Wanderers FC.

A team from Ofsted carried out an inspection and found it “requires improvement” - the third lowest of four possible ratings.

They found the provider had not addressed “a significant number” of recommendations made at the last inspection, when it was also found to need improvement.

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Among their findings was that “a low number” of students on study programmes completed qualifications, because too many dropped out early.

They said assessors and tutors focused too narrowly on qualification aims, with too many students not achieving their full potential.

The provision of maths and English was described as “not good.”

Some changes had been made since the previous inspection, including dealing with “the weak performance of several staff”, who had since left ProCo.

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The proportion of students receiving training from sub-contractors had reduced and ProCo stopped using a “poor-performing sub-contractor”.

Ofsted highlighted strengths as including “good vocational training and high-quality work experience” for students on study programmes.

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