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20.03.08
Ofsted praise for Objective One projects

Three Objective One European Social Fund (ESF) projects in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have won praise from an Ofsted inspector who said it was evident to him that the investment was "really changing peoples' lives".

Ofsted, a government body inspects care, education and learning and skills facilities and projects. Ofsted now inspects co-financed ESF projects in the same way as it does other adult learning providers.

In September 2007 Ofsted inspected nine Learning and Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus contracts across the South West, three of which were Objective One co-financed projects in Cornwall. These were CPR Works, Pentreath Ltd and the Learning Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

All three projects received very positive feedback from the Ofsted inspector who also said he had not seen partnerships working so well anywhere else in the UK.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "I welcome this national endorsement of the dedicated and unique partnership effort that is making the Objective One investment more effective for people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Congratulations to all those involved."

Mark Williams, Skills Development Director, ESF of the Regional Learning and Skills Council, said: "It is incredibly rewarding for all the partners involved in these projects to get external endorsement from Ofsted. The dedication and commitment to the people of Cornwall, achieved through working together, has been inspiring and we must make use of this success to further drive our aspiration through the new ESF Convergence Programme to achieve our goal of social, economic and sustainable prosperity for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

And Carolyn Webster, European Programmes Manager for Jobcentre Plus added: "Our co-financing programme has been a real success with over 5320 people supported into work. We have taken pride in developing a partnership approach to delivery and it is great that this has been recognised and praised by an independent external evaluation."

In the report, good success and achievement rates were identified across most projects, with good progress into jobs. The inspector said: "Partnership working is identified as particularly strong in this region which has incredible spin off and benefits both staff and learners. There is good collaboration amongst partners resulting in a widening of participation.

"Projects are well managed with some good strategic planning, they are being managed and delivered by dedicated, enthusiastic people who have a good knowledge of local training and the labour market and are pro-active in identifying appropriate training and employment for their learners. The learners themselves are enthusiastic and have developed a good range of social and employability skills."

The main area identified for improvement was around quality assurance. The inspector said there was too much reliance on informal communications and poor tracking of learner progress. This was an issue across the entire South West and an area where training may be needed.

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager, Partnership Office, on 01872 223439/07973 813647 or email cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Camborne Pool Redruth Regeneration through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and in Pentreath Industries and the Learning Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly through the European Social Fund (ESF).

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Editor's notes:

To see the full Ofsted report  go to www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports scroll down then type in the Unique Reference Number 57669.

The Inspector produced detailed reports on each project:

Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) Works was a 21-month project of CPR Regeneration, set up to co-ordinate regeneration in the area. Most of CPR Regeneration's work focuses on physical regeneration but the company recognised the importance of local workless people being able to access new opportunities provided by that regeneration.

Co-funded by Jobcentre Plus, five project staff worked with local businesses, employers and referral agencies to identify skills gaps, to recruit staff and provide training and support to local workless people. CPR Works organised in house training courses as well as purchasing external courses for clients. In addition, staff had access to an 'Enabling Fund' to help with necessary expenses such as childcare, gap funding and clothing.

At the time of inspection the organisation had engaged with 310 learners.

The Inspector said: "CPR has very good partnership arrangements with a range of strategic, employer and community based organisations such as West Cornwall Together, the local Chamber of Commerce, Kerrier District Council and drug, housing and learning support organisations.  Key issues related to equality and diversity are clearly understood and CPR Works have been involved in supporting local employers to understand migrant worker and age legislation issues.

"Progression of learners into training and employment is good. To date 23% of learners have progressed into employment and 34% have obtained at least one qualification, with 18% achieving an additional qualification. 11% of learners are still working towards certification. The achievement and retention rate on in-house courses is very good. The completion rate for learners who started the courses is 94% and 92% achieved a qualification.

"CPR Works provides a very flexible and sometimes imaginative response to
meet the needs of local employers while helping learners into employment.
The employment engagement worker has excellent links with local businesses who feel confident in approaching CPR Works when they are considering employing new staff. This personalised approach has resulted in learners obtaining sustainable employment in a range of jobs, which not only extends their aspirations but also enables them to work in a multi-skilled environment."

Pentreath Ltd

Two co-financed Objective One ESF contracts were inspected:

1. Roads to Health aims to support and develop the confidence, motivation and self-esteem of those with long term mental health problems and who are a long way from entering the labour market. Pentreath has engaged a total of 156 participants since the project started.
2. Worklink has two main strands; firstly to support employers by offering training to enable them to adopt good mental health practices at work and secondly to improve the confidence, motivation and self-esteem of those with mental health problems who are economically inactive, but almost ready for work. The project has engaged 14 employers and 11 beneficiaries since it started. It is due to end in June this year (2008).

The Ofsted inspector said: "Learners demonstrate good improvements in motivation, confidence and self-esteem. All learners speak of making good progress in these areas since joining the project. Many are now enthusiastic about seeking employment which they describe as unthinkable before joining the course. However, systems to record progress are largely informal and clients' records do not always provide adequate information to review and plan learning. Pentreath identified this in its self-assessment report and managers made good progress in planning new systems.

"The Roads to Recovery course is particularly well planned, structured and
managed. The large group of learners work well together with good humour and enthusiasm."

The Learning Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (LPCo) was established in 2001 and supports and monitors the delivery of ESF projects, by partners. Partners include Further Education (FE) Colleges, Cornwall Adult Education service, private training providers, business organisations, voluntary and community sector organisations and the Local Authority, all based throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Beneficiaries in the projects encompass a diverse range of individuals including those with mental health problems, young parents, residents of social housing in deprived wards and the unemployed as well as those employed in Cornwall's workforce across a range of sectors. Small businesses are also supported to raise the skills levels of their staff.

The LPCo has operated 16 LSC co-financed projects to date.

The Ofsted inspector said: "Teaching and learning is generally good. Learners are developing confidence, self-esteem, independent living and employability skills; they are enthusiastic about their programmes and speak positively about their experiences. Many were developing good literacy and numeracy skills, others were developing their business and marketing skills and some were engaged in direct selling of their products. 14 -19 year olds have increased opportunities to gain experience and skills which meet the local labour market needs.

"Leadership and management are particularly good. There is strong management of the partnership and there is a clear strategic focus to ensure sustainability and succession. Senior managers at the learning partnership have a clear vision for future developments and are well informed of local and national requirements. Partnership working is outstanding, particularly between sectors including the voluntary services sector and colleges. Partners value the opportunities to share best practice and discuss issues and concerns. Providers work very effectively with local partners, employers and other agencies to benefit learners, help remove barriers to learning and employment and encourage learning for those that need it. Workforce development is particularly well focused upon the needs of individuals and businesses across the region."

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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