Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the monitoring, inspection and funding of Learndirect

Learndirect is a very large commercial further education provider, whose core business is skills, training and employment services. Learndirect receives funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and, in keeping with other further education providers, is subject to inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children Services and Skills (Ofsted).

The National Audit Office (NAO) announced that it has launched a formal investigation into the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s funding of training provider learndirect following its poor Ofsted report.

As the NAO sets out, in March 2017 Ofsted carried out an inspection of learndirect and graded it ‘inadequate’ (grade 4) for apprenticeship provision and ‘requires improvement’ (grade 3) for adult education. Following the Ofsted report, ESFA subsequently made a number of decisions about its ongoing funding of Learndirect and took swift action to put safeguards in place to protect learners.

Learndirect’s contract will end in July 2018. Until this point, learndirect has been provided with a set amount of funding to ensure it prevents significant disruption to learners.

The NAO’s investigation will look at how these decisions were reached.

DfE logo750x570A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Following its Ofsted report, we have taken swift action to work with learndirect and put safeguards in place to protect learners.

We welcome the NAO's investigation and will look at its findings when published.


learndirect’s statement in response to the NAO’s confirmation of investigation:

learndirect Limited welcomes the announcement of the National Audit Office’s decision to launch an investigation into ESFA’s decision making with regard to the ongoing funding of learndirect. It is important to note that the investigation will set out the key facts relating to those decisions rather than learndirect itself.

As previously reported, learndirect Limited’s Chairman Ken Hills recently wrote to Sir Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General of the NAO, inviting the NAO to undertake an investigation as a means of establishing a clear evidence case for a more informed political and public debate around a complex issue which has recently been misreported in the press.

Andy Palmer 100x100learndirect Group Chief Executive, Andy Palmer said:

learndirect welcomes the investigation which is clearly not an investigation into learndirect but into the public bodies and stakeholders that have engaged with learndirect. We believe that it will vindicate the decisions that they have made with respect to learndirect.

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