Leeds City Council’s education and training services have garnered high praise from government inspectors Ofsted, achieving an ‘outstanding’ rating in a report released today.

This exceptional rating, following a thorough examination of the council’s adult skills provision and employer-provider apprenticeship programme, marks a significant achievement for the team. Leeds now stands as the first local authority in England to secure an outstanding rating in this domain since the introduction of the new education inspection framework in 2019, building upon its prior ‘good’ rating received in 2013.

The services excelled in all six assessment areas, covering the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, adult learning programmes, and apprenticeships.

The report highlights that adult learners in Leeds gain valuable skills that often lead to transformative changes in their lives. It commends the service for offering a “highly ambitious curriculum” that caters to diverse needs, widens participation in learning, improves life chances, and fosters stronger communities.

Verginia Lazarencu, a beneficiary of the adult learning programme, shared her success story:

“I moved to Leeds two years ago from Romania. I started a course with Leeds City Council to help me to improve my English and digital skills. The course helped me to develop my skills, but it also helped me to make new friends, and to learn more about Leeds and the support that is available in the community where I live.

“I learnt about where to find help, and where to find job and volunteering opportunities and I started working with a careers advisor. I developed confidence in myself, improved my skills, and started using these skills by volunteering at some of the organisations that helped me. I now volunteer at Nowell Mount Community Centre food bank, and with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller team, and at the Harehills Bowling Club.

“I try to encourage others I meet to get involved in volunteering. My volunteering work takes lots of dedication, but being able to put a smile on a child’s face or a simple ‘thank you’ from the people I am able to help makes me feel really proud of the volunteering work that I do. To my teachers, careers advisor, volunteers and all the new friends I have made over the last two years, I would like to say ‘thank you’ for the help you have given me. I am now able to support other people in my community and have learnt more new skills and made new friendships along the way.”

In the previous academic year, nearly 3,500 Leeds residents accessed community learning opportunities through the service, with a pass rate exceeding 95 percent. The community learning initiatives help improve skills, prepare individuals for formal learning or jobs, and boost confidence and wellbeing.

Leeds City Council also offers apprenticeships, with a 100 percent pass rate and notable progression to more senior roles for 58 percent of participants. Inspectors commended the effective personal and social development program, as well as the dedication of teachers in promoting learner and apprentice development.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education said:

“We are delighted with this rating, and glowing feedback. It shows the huge amount of work that has been put into this service to achieve such as excellent result. I am so pleased that the hard work of all our dedicated staff and partners has been recognised so congratulations and thanks to everyone involved.

“In Leeds we are passionate about supporting people to thrive, be that through new skills or encouragement and education about career options and how to find and get into work.

“Our Future Talent Plan has played a large and successful part of the collaboration happening across the city to ensure we leave no-one behind when it comes to skills and opportunities.”

The Ofsted assessment underscores the significant contribution of the employment and skills service to the council’s Best City Ambition, addressing poverty and inequality and enhancing the lives of learners in Leeds. The service collaborates with various partners, including the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the NHS, skills providers, and employers, in delivering inclusive growth to offer opportunities for all in the local economy.

The complete Ofsted report is accessible here.