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College addresses audit issues and shares lessons learnt with the sector

Jul 05 2019

Download the full RSM report:   RSM, Dudley College of Technology RSM review June 2019

Download the full action plan:   Dudley College Apprenticeship Compliance Action Plan 2019

In March this year it was widely reported that Dudley College of Technology had made provision in its accounts to return funds to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) following a review of the late withdrawal of apprentices and work placed learners in 2015/16 and 2016/17.  This matter was publicised and the college committed to addressing all issues working with an independent audit advisor RSM to conduct an external review.

As a result of this work a detailed action plan has been developed to ensure past errors are not repeated and the college is now in a position to share with the sector the follow up audit report.

The new report shows much progress has been made in improving systems and processes and in particular identifies the following key findings:

  • The College has replaced the previous management for Apprenticeships with an Apprenticeship Executive Team.  This has ensured that progress has been made quickly and effectively to resolve the previously identified issues as it has been ‘led from the top’;

  • Weekly training events for all staff have taken place since March 2019 to improve the understanding of Apprenticeships, implement changes to policies and procedures and discuss key changes in requirements;

  • Withdrawal and breaks in learning documentation has been implemented with higher levels of compliance and understanding;

  • MIS staff have an improved understanding of the Apprenticeship data requirements, achievement rate implications and feel more confident and empowered;

  • The College now has management reporting tools for Apprenticeships in relation to continued attendance and those at risk of dropping out;

  • The College has designed a robust ‘rollover’ system to ensure that only active Apprentices will be rolled forward to the next academic year;

  • Commitment statements and initial assessment processes have been improved to ensure compliance with funding rule requirements;

  • Reporting systems have been implemented to ensure maths and English aims are not recorded and funded in the ILR where the Apprentice already has attainment at that level;

  • The College is now actively tracking and monitoring progress against the 20% off the job requirement.

Commenting on the new report Lowell Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Dudley College of Technology / Chair of the Board of Dudley Academies Trust said: "I now understand that whilst mistakes in colleges will happen, it’s how the college responds which matters more. I cannot pay tribute enough to the staff at Dudley College for their diligence and support in putting things right.

I suspect the challenge of effective administration of complex work based programmes is a sector wide issue.  With this in mind the College is today publically releasing, in full, our action plan and the May RSM review.

We have developed new systems, particularly for the rollover of apprentices. If any college would like to view these systems or discuss the wider context of our action plan, I urge them to get in touch with myself or College Principal Neil Thomas. We are happy to share our lessons learnt across the sector."

Lowell Williams
CEO Dudley College of Technology/Dudley Academies Trust