Apprentice training provider told to improve as issues ‘remain’

A Wirral social care apprentice training provider “grappling with the worst staffing crisis in a generation” has been told it still “requires improvement.”

Dianthas Ltd in Birkenhead was set up in 2020 to train people up to work in the care sector with 93 apprentices when it was inspected at the end of May 2024. It has now been inspected twice with both times finding things needed to be improved.

Despite a monitoring visit by Ofsted in May 2023 stating reasonable progress has been made in a number of areas and some praise within the report, concerns were raised by Ofsted a year later about the quality of training for a number of apprentices “who do not benefit from wider personal development opportunities” and studies didn’t “extend beyond the apprenticeship”.

It said there had been “a high turnover of staff” since the last visit with most tutors now having left.

Leaders were also criticised for being “too slow to take appropriate steps when performance did not improve” meaning some apprentices were left without a good education.

Issues were also raised about apprentices not turning up for training meaning “they do not always attend sessions due to staffing pressures in the workplace” and employers said they did not know how apprentices were progressing.

The curriculum was criticised for not being ambitious enough with apprentices opting for less challenging assignments and due to inconsistent writing feedback, “apprentices continue to make the same errors”.

The report said, “Most of the weaknesses from the last inspection remain. As a result, there is too much inconsistency in the quality of education that apprentices receive,” adding: “Where leaders have made improvements, this has had a beneficial impact on apprentices.

“For example, leaders have introduced new onboarding processes that has improved the recruitment of apprentices and reduced the number of apprentices leaving their apprenticeship early.”

Dianthas said the high turnover was in response to an ongoing recruitment crisis within the care sector and new staff replacements hadn’t been right for the job. It said the attendance issues were linked to pressures within the social care sector and a comment about governors was a misunderstanding by the inspector.

New staff have been recruited and Dianthas is “taking positive steps to not only ensure our provisions is good but outstanding in every aspect of what we do”.

It also pointed to comments in the report that “apprentices develop their confidence and resilience because of the training that they receive”.

Mandy Connick from Dianthas told the LDRS, “We take pride in ensuring our staff caseloads are managed effectively to ensure high-quality outcomes and effective support for our apprentices,” adding, “We work within social care and when employers are short staffed they remove apprentices from workshops to ensure their provision has all vulnerable individuals kept safe. All apprentices are provided access to course materials and one to one support, when required if they miss sessions.”

There was praise in the report too for how apprentices were able to report issues and most were motivated to develop their learning which was planned in “a logical order.” The report said, “Apprentices feel safe in learning and in the workplace. They take their safeguarding duties at work very seriously.

“Apprentices know the signs to spot if their elderly clients are at risk of financial or physical abuse. For example, they monitor the use of elderly residents’ bank cards by their relatives to ensure that residents are making decisions over what they buy, if they have the capacity to do so.”

After Dianthas were approached by the LDRS, Ian Lomas, from the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation said their situation was “not unique in the challenges” recruiting and retaining tutors in a sector “that is currently grappling with the worst staffing crisis in a generation and are working with care providers to train their staff at a time when they are both struggling to recruit and release staff for training.”

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