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Government to end contract with learndirect over concerns about standards

A damning Ofsted report on learndirect is due to be released on Thursday.

The Government is to end its contract with embattled adult training provider learndirect due to concerns about standards, it has been confirmed.

The Department for Education (DfE) said learndirect’s current contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will be wound up by July next year.

In a statement, a DfE spokeswoman said that the department is working with the firm to ensure that no apprentices lose out as a result of the decision.

A damning Ofsted report on learndirect is due to be released on Thursday after the firm failed to block its publication in the High Court.

Learndirect, which is owned by private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) – an arm of Lloyds bank – employs 1,645 people and is responsible for almost 73,000 trainees and apprentices.

It is understood the company has not taken on any new apprentices since May and will no longer deliver apprenticeships.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “We are creating a world-class technical education system and already have the highest number of apprentices on record.

“We are determined to build on that success, and where providers are failing to meet the required standards, it is right that action is taken.

“We are working with learndirect and employers to put safeguards in place and ensure no apprentices lose out as a result of the contract ending.”

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(Yui Mok/PA)

The Government previously confirmed it has given learndirect contracts worth £158 million for the year to July 2017.

Ofsted’s inspection report on learndirect is due to be published on Thursday after a court injunction obtained by the firm was lifted.

The company, which was privatised in 2011, and is the UK’s largest adult training and apprenticeship provider, was given the lowest grade possible after an inspection in March, according to the Financial Times.

A spokesman for the education watchdog said it was “very pleased with this outcome” after an application for a judicial review to overturn the report was refused.

Learndirect said it was “extremely disappointed” with the verdict, but added in a statement: “Learndirect Limited’s underlying business remains stable and we continue to be focused on supporting our learners as usual.”

The company said it challenged Ofsted’s inspection over concerns the process did not give a “true reflection” of the company’s training quality and performance.

But the regulator said it stood by its methods and inspectors’ findings.

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