How Blue Lion Training Academy achieved Ofsted Outstanding with Bud


Blue-Lion-logoBlue Lion Training Academy is one of the leading apprenticeship providers in the East Midlands, delivering across England.

Despite being a relatively new business, Blue Lion Training Academy is off to an impressive start. The provider recently underwent their much-anticipated first Ofsted inspection and was awarded a rating of Outstanding.

We spoke to Harj Dhanjal, CEO of Blue Lion Training Academy about implementing Bud, his experience with Ofsted and how Bud will support their plans for growth.

Driving continuous improvement with Bud

When Blue Lion Training Academy took on their first apprentice, they were using another apprenticeship platform. But, as Harj recalls, it didn’t fit their ambitions around the learner experience.

“It wasn’t intuitive, whereas we’re very much about lean and continuous improvement. We want our customers to feel like they’re getting a lean experience. They don’t want to be bogged down learning how to use a system – they want to be learning their knowledge, skills and behaviours,” he said.

Harj benchmarked different systems, then had an initial discussion with Craig Robinson, Bud’s Senior Delivery Consultant. Harj describes Craig as “one of the biggest selling points” of switching to Bud, but he also liked that the platform aligned with their vision for the business.

“Once we started using the system, Craig showed us things in Bud that reinforced what we were trying to do. We didn’t have to build up spreadsheets or use other systems, it was very easy to download data and look at learner progress on a weekly basis.”

We noticed that Bud was also implementing other tools and new reports, which made us feel like we were learning and growing together. When we got into the last academic year, we saw a new set of reports come along which helped us even further. That’s why we’re using Bud – we can see they’re driving continuous improvement as we are.

Harj Dhanjal, CEO of Blue Lion Training Academy

Going into Ofsted with confidence

Harj was happy to receive the call that Ofsted were coming. He explains that there’s a lot of bad press about Ofsted and people tend to panic about inspections, but the team felt confident and eager to showcase what they were doing.

Harj uses the analogy that providers shouldn’t rush to paint the shop floor when they receive an audit notification; high standards should be in place every single day.

“We know that the education inspection framework is embedded within our compliance, governance, learning, curriculum and quality processes. I wanted Ofsted to inspect us at the earliest opportunity in order to confirm that we were working at a high-quality level. The Ofsted result confirmed we’d got it right,” he said.

Finding data with the click of a button

When Ofsted arrived, Blue Lion Training Academy showcased their library of video content, including videos relating to the learner journey from engagement to end-point assessment.

Bud’s reporting tools allow learners, employers and the training provider to monitor progress effectively in a simple and useful way. Harj was able to use the reporting functionality with ease to talk through learners on programme, withdrawals and success rates as required.

Every time the inspectors asked a question, I wasn’t going away to ask my admin or compliance teams to find information, or asking employers or learners to go and do anything. It was all in front of the inspectors. Literally, with the click of a button, I was able to pull up information.

Harj Dhanjal, CEO of Blue Lion Training Academy

One area that Ofsted praised was Blue Lion Training Academy’s ability to analyse job roles and work processes extensively to make sure apprenticeship courses met the needs of the company. As part of this approach, the team invites guest speakers in to inspire learners and give them a wider understanding of the subject matter.

“One thing the inspectors were really happy about was that we had guest speakers. For example, we offer an Assistant Recording Technician apprenticeship, so we had a guest speaker from the music industry. They were able to come in and give the learners some inspiration around what they were doing and what opportunities they could have,” Harj said.

Making use of Bud’s Knowledge Base

After being awarded an Outstanding grade, Harj is turning his attention towards growing learner numbers while maintaining high standards – something which Bud will help with.

“It takes time to grow the business. A lot of companies have struggled with growing too big, too quickly and losing control of quality internally. We like to think we’re the opposite – we wanted to make sure that Ofsted came in before we grew. So going forward, our focus is going to be on growing our learner numbers, increasing the number of apprenticeship standards we deliver and maintaining a high-quality level of service,” he said.

“A big part of our growth strategy was making sure that we invested in a system that was user friendly for our learners but would also support our strategy for growth, which Bud can and does.”

For other providers aiming to drive improvement in their organisations, Harj’s final advice is to utilise Bud’s Knowledge Base.

“The amount of investment that Bud has put into their training – use it. Whether you’re a trainer, compliance administrator or delivery manager, don’t just think, ‘the knowledge hub isn’t going to be useful’ because it really is,” he said.

You can find out more about Blue Lion Training Academy here.

Learn more about Bud

Bud’s intuitive platform streamlines the processes required to capture evidence from enrolment to EPA. It provides support with many areas of training delivery, including:

  • Creating a consistent, easy-to-use digital learning environment that learners, employers and trainers will love
  • Capturing real-time business intelligence, giving training providers complete visibility over performance
  • Automatically collating evidence needed to demonstrate learner outcomes and hit compliance targets

Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you maximise your training performance or book a demo now.