Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Armed Forces’ recruits and trainees feel safe and well-supported but still room for improvement in welfare and care

The training staff of the Armed Forces display a strong commitment to promoting the well-being of recruits and trainees, but there is still scope for improvement in the overall quality of welfare and duty of care, according to a report published today by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The report, Welfare and duty of care in Armed Forces initial training, recognises the marked improvement made over the past six years and acknowledges that welfare and duty of care are now an intrinsic part of the training and support recruits and trainees receive. However, while progress has been made, there are indications that the pace of progress has slowed recently. The Armed Forces need to ensure momentum is maintained by addressing a number of issues relating to the training of recruits.

The vast majority of recruits and trainees feel well supported, personally and professionally, during their training. Inspectors looked at the provision of initial training for recruits and also for trainees, who are undertaking the more technical and professional training skills required to become a member of the Armed Forces. Despite operational pressures and understaffing in some establishments, highly committed instructors were playing a key role in ensuring recruits and trainees are safe and their needs are well met. Good progress has also been made in establishing productive relationships with parents. There is now a more coordinated approach between home and the training establishments to supporting recruits and trainees, particularly during times of difficulty.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

'This second Ofsted Report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence shows that the basic elements of effective welfare and duty of care are now central to the training and support in all establishments inspected this year. It is good to know that the vast majority of recruits and trainees feel secure and well supported.

However, although it is encouraging to see widespread commitment to improving welfare and the duty of care, there are indications that the rate of progress is slowing. All services must ensure momentum is maintained and improvement is happening at establishment level. The recommendations in this report should help them do this.'

Ofsted was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to produce an independent annual report on the quality of welfare and duty of care which recruits and trainees receive. In 2009-10, Ofsted inspectors visited 10 training establishments to compile evidence. Inspectors judged that establishments' overall effectiveness ranged from good in four establishments to inadequate in two.

Specialist training for instructors continues to improve the quality of support for recruits and trainees, although some instructors are unable to attend this training within the required timescale because of operational requirements. Improvements are not always sustained following changes of command, however. Where improvements have taken place or good standards have been maintained, it is often the result of effective project management.

There is a high drop-out rate at training establishments. The Armed Forces need to reduce the numbers dropping out, by keeping their selection procedures under review to ensure that those recruited can meet the physical and professional demands of training.

Recommendations in the report include: the need for the Armed Forces to ensure the underlying causes of persistently high dropout rates from some training establishments are identified, and effective strategies implemented to improve retention; and the need to ensure all staff in senior and junior command roles receive appropriate training.

Notes for Editors

1. The report, Welfare and duty of care in Armed Forces initial training is available on the Ofsted website:

2. The report offers a summary of progress in the welfare and duty of care in training and outlines the detailed findings of inspectors from their inspections across the 10 training establishments. It also includes a brief synopsis of each institution visited by the inspectors. Overall, approximately 400 recruits and trainees, and 175 military and welfare staff were interviewed.

3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 5866 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.


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