How effectively will you evidence high expectations for learners?

The Inspection handbook contains a number of references to having ‘high expectations’ for learners. This extract is from the leadership and management section: the extent to which leaders ensure that learners benefit from effective teaching and high expectations in classrooms, online, in workshops, at work or with subcontractors. We know from recent inspection feedback, and text in published reports that this is possibly an increasing focus at inspection. A key aspect of having high expectations is around the substance of targets set for learners, and whether these are sufficiently challenging or demanding. The two inspection quotes below illustrate the diversity that exists within providers, clearly for some, there is still work to do.

‘Staff have high expectations of apprentices and challenge them to produce work of the highest standard, often beyond programme requirements.’ ‘In a few sessions, trainers have low expectations of apprentices. They set tasks that are too easy and, as a result, apprentices do not reach their full potential.’

We’ve noticed in recent published reports negative comments around expectations, challenge and targets. This action in a very recent report quantifies the concern. Senior leaders should ensure that tutors set aspirational targets for apprentices to achieve so that they can attain high grades They should monitor apprentices progress against the targets set. As senior leaders how well do you consider:

  • What expertise and challenge is coming from governance to help improve the level of challenge set for learners. How aware are governance of learning delivery?
  • Will the learner know more and be able to achieve more as a result of the target they were set? If this isn’t evident from the wording and direction, the target may be ineffective.

A common finding at inspection is weak or inconsistent target setting for all learner types. Often learners are asked to set their own targets, but without close and developmental oversight and challenge, such targets are usually worthless. Leaders should frequently be looking at the standard of targets and the challenge set, then both providing CPD and individual support to help tutors and coaches improve. Weak targets are a poor reflection on quality assurance, and will for certain surface at inspection.

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