How Bud supported Skern Training and Skills through its Ofsted inspection


SkernSkern Training & Skills (STS) is an approved Main Apprenticeship provider offering end-to-end apprenticeships and programmes to upskill learners from early career to Board level. 

A specialist in outdoor apprenticeships, STS also delivers training in other areas, such as leadership and management, agriculture, and hospitality.

We caught up with Steve Randles, STS’s Head of Education and Quality, 18 months after they first adopted Bud. Steve shared how Bud helped the business through their Ofsted inspection and how the platform has inspired a new delivery model for Skern Training & Skills.

The Ofsted inspection

Since coming out of lockdown, it’s been a busy time at STS. The company has launched a range of training programmes in new sectors, such as hospitality, leadership and management, and agriculture.

And, in 2022, STS were visited by Ofsted. The Ofsted process involved a two-day new provider monitoring visit from Ofsted in April 2022. Following this visit, the team created an action plan based on the feedback from inspectors, tracking the success of those actions via Bud’s RAG (red, amber, green) rating system.

What the inspectors wanted to see

As Steve explained, the Ofsted inspectors were thorough. “They wanted to see that progression was being made around apprenticeship journeys across the whole scope of the apprenticeship, not just one element of progression,” he said.

The team was asked about a number of key aspects, including:

  • Are learners on track with activities?
  • Are learners on track with off-the-job (OTJ) hours?
  • Programme activities
  • Progress reviews

“They were deep diving into these areas. One item they questioned us on in detail was OTJ hours and how learners can track their own progress in Bud – they particularly wanted us to show how learners could be sure they would complete on time,” Steve said.

An employee was designated to take inspectors through Bud’s platform and show them evidence on each point raised. The STS team were delighted when Ofsted reported that “reasonable progress” was made across all sectors and safeguards.

STS were especially pleased that their progress was on the borderline of “significant” – the highest mark awarded by Ofsted – the positive comments have put them in a strong position for future inspections.

Read more: What are Ofsted inspectors looking for?

Providing the right evidence

Bud has also enabled STS to find new ways to keep training quality high. A fundamental part of this is using Bud’s RAG rating system to motivate the team and identify where improvements could be made.

“One of my main drives is to set an expectation that everything in Bud should be RAG rated green. In reality, there will be the odd learner who is red or amber, but it’s about knowing why and ensuring this only affects one or two, not thirty or forty,” he said.

This approach gives STS a useful tool to address Ofsted inspectors’ queries. Steve wants to open up the doors to Bud in future inspections and use the data to answer questions about individual learners.

The three progress bars for individual learners are central to this, and STS is keen to ensure these bars are on an upward trajectory across the board.

“Those progress bars are really useful for me, as I can take a quick look and see clearly if the learner is progressing and doing well,” Steve said.

“And if they are the other way, I can see the reasons why. For example, they may have missed a block delivery, been on a break in learning, been ill or have mental health needs.”

The benefits of an accessible platform

In addition to specialising in outdoor training, STS has also expanded its offering since the pandemic. But this exciting time of expansion doesn’t come without its challenges, one of the biggest being access to technology. This affects learners in different ways.

For farmers, it’s as simple as not having access to computers or having the skills to use them. For outdoor learners, it’s about being able to capture evidence in the moment.

Outdoor training often requires a different approach, and Steve outlined how Bud has been instrumental in helping STS address a range of accessibility issues. For example:

  • Allowing farmers to use smartphones when computers aren’t available
  • Enabling outdoor learners to upload evidence in the moment via their smartphones
  • Trainers and managers being able to provide signatures anytime, anywhere

“We’re working across the UK in four different sectors, which have very different operating models. I’ve had trainers and managers needing to provide a signature outside of normal office hours. Having the ability and flexibility to get on your phone and do it anytime, wherever you are, is crucial,” Steve said.

Continuing to deliver high standards

Switching to Bud has allowed STS to scale operations while continuing to deliver high-quality training.

Steve adds that this has been strengthened by the “amazing” support from their Bud Customer Success Manager. And he’s looking forward to showcasing Bud’s reporting system in more detail during future Ofsted inspections.

Guide: How Bud supports training providers with Ofsted

Find out more about Bud

Bud can support you with every aspect of your training delivery:

  • Create a consistent, easy-to-use digital learning environment that learners, employers and trainers will love
  • Capture real-time business intelligence, so you have a complete overview of every aspect of your organisation’s performance
  • Quality check programme delivery, identifying areas for improvement in real time
  • Automatically collate evidence needed to demonstrate learner outcomes and hit compliance targets to release funding

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