Today Ofsted announced it will review further education students’ experience of online learning during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Ofsted has started working with the Department for Education (DfE), the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employer and Learning Providers (AELP) and HOLEX to carry out the review this month.

The watchdog stressed that the review would not be an inspection and that there would be no inspection judgements or consequences for the provider, it’s instead entirely voluntary. Inspectors will speak to students and apprentices about their experience of learning online to identify any areas of strength and potential for improvement.

Sue Pember, director of policy at HOLEX, said that adult and community education providers have worked incredibly hard over the past 10 weeks to deliver a digital offer and have embraced new technology to support the learner experience.

She said: “We now see this form of delivery as an integral part of any future adult offer. Therefore it is excellent that Ofsted is using their time and expertise to evaluate what works, as this will inform future delivery and success of the digital ACE [adult and community education] programmes.”

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the AELP, was really pleased about the review. “It will help identify for the future what learning can be done online without adversely affecting quality and in the case of apprenticeships what should be learned on the job, bearing in mind that the true value of an apprenticeship lies in it being a work-based learning programme,” he said.

Due to recent events, the shift towards online learning is likely to continue. Therefore, the review will give post-16 providers the opportunity to review their online education strategies.