Head defends group's latest Ofsted rating

Left, headteacher Richard King, with staff at Expanse Learning Wigan
Left, headteacher Richard King, with staff at Expanse Learning Wigan

The head of a local education group has moved to assure clients over its latest Ofsted report on its performance in the borough.


Expanse Learning, which provides education programmes for 16 to 24 year olds with learning difficulties and disabilities and is based at Leigh Sports Village, was deemed to “require improvement” after a recent inspection, with its apprenticeship scheme deemed “inadequate”.

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Its provision for “learners with high needs”, however, was rated as “good” by inspectors.

Richard King is head of the group which recently opened Wigan Independent Specialist School, on Tyrer Avenue.

He said local services would not be affected by the less impressive elements of the report, as Expanse does not currently offer apprenticeships.

He said: “We are really proud of the higher needs funding we deliver in Wigan. We don’t deliver any apprenticeships in Wigan and Leigh and we don’t work with any schools in this area.

“The only part of the report that affects Wigan and Leigh is the grade two, which is for our higher needs funding provision.”

He added: “The apprenticeship grade is a little inconsequential.”

The report found that the large majority of learners achieved their targets and gained their vocational qualifications.

Support for learners with high needs was “effective" and they benefited from a good range of support strategies that help them to participate in learning and make good progress.

Staff were found to have created an inclusive culture of mutual respect in which learners feel safe, and had worked effectively to provide a good range of work placements for learners which met their interests and helped them develop their knowledge and skills.

On the opposite end of the scale, management of apprenticeship programmes was described as weak, and the report also found that too many apprentices did not gain new knowledge, skills or behaviours due to a lack of training programmes tailored to each student’s individual needs.