Chairman Ken Hills and CEO Andy Palmer
learndirect Limited, the UK’s largest provider of skills, training and employment services has appointed PR consultancy Media House International to help counter the misconceptions and ill-informed debate that currently surrounds the company.
The appointment stems from media coverage following a recent Ofsted report that awarded learndirect Limited a low ranking for its service provision. The company does not agree with the Ofsted rating.
It is the board’s belief that much of the coverage fails to understand the complexities of the situation. This is in a climate where national financial commitment to training and Apprenticeships has been dramatically reduced. It is imperative that there is a forensic examination of the challenges facing training providers and the effect this is having on the thousands of learners who participate in these vital courses.
In light of this, learndirect Limited has prepared a detailed response to the accusations laid against it in the media and political spheres through their Q&A article. While this document provides a full response to the charges, learndirect Limited would like to address three issues in particular that have been mispresented in the public domain.
Firstly, learndirect Limited are extremely disappointed with the sensationalised reporting of incorrect information that has undermined the areas of the business that were not deemed to be underperforming and directly harmed the wider business and its stakeholders. 
This spreading of incorrect information is perfectly exemplified by statements from Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. Mrs Spielman said the most shocking finding from the report was that “something like a third of the apprentices at learndirect were getting no training at all.”
This statement is factually incorrect as the attached Q&A clearly demonstrates. It is deeply concerning that the head of Ofsted could misinterpret her own organisation’s report so badly.
Secondly, it is learndirect Limited’s firm belief that much of the press coverage to date has failed to understand the complexities of the situation and as a result the company has been unfairly portrayed. The barrage of criticism aimed at all aspects of learndirect Limited’s business does not reflect the work that has been done to improve overall company performance.
learndirect Limited has acknowledged the historic poor performance of the SME Apprenticeship part of the business and taken significant action to remedy the situation including changing management and ceasing taking on new learners in this area. The remaining parts of the business (in particular the core ESFA funded Adult Learning business) were recognised in the Ofsted report as improving and it is unjust that this part of the business will ultimately carry the imposed sanction and have funding withdrawn.
Thirdly, certain members of the media have insinuated that learndirect Limited was seen as ‘too big to fail’ and that the company received preferential treatment in receiving an ESFA contract to wind down its Adult Learning business.
learndirect Limited firmly rejects the charge of preferential treatment and is highly displeased with these accusations for a variety of reasons, including:
  • learndirect Limited will not benefit from the £45m of funding as this level of funding does not even cover the cost base in the Adult Learning part of the business. The decision to fund learndirect Limited to July 2018 was made in the interest of learners.
  • learndirect Limited’s Adult Learning business has good success rates (better now than when it was an Ofsted Grade 2) and received a Grade 3 in the recent inspection. The decision therefore to force a significant operator in the Adult Learning sector to close is unjust.
  • We understand that learndirect Limited did not receive a higher proportional funding allocation from ESFA in 2017/18 than other providers who chose to exit the sector.
  • It is worth noting that a public-sector organisation that is awarded an Ofsted Grade 4 is allowed to continue trading and make improvements (a number of FE colleges have been permitted to do this) while any private sector provider given a Grade 4 is closed down. This is deeply unfair and inhibits competition in the sector.


Ken Hill 100x100learndirect Limited’s Chairman Ken Hills said, “I hope responsible media and the FE community begin to understand that successive governments have continually moved the goalposts in the adult skills and Apprenticeships landscape. It is then left to companies such as ours to pick up the pieces, although ultimately the real victims are the learners and apprentices, mainly young people, who will suffer from these catastrophic policies. learndirect Limited has acknowledged that mistakes were made in its SME Apprenticeship delivery and has taken significant action to remedy the situation.”

 What are your views about the learndirect Ofsted report? Click here to find out how the sector responded in August.

You may also be interested in these articles:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 36 minutes ago

RT @EdTech_Summit: Experts including @DavidRussellETF @vikkiliogier @teresaetfound & Janet Clark from the Education and Training Foundation…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page