LEAGUE FOOTBALL EDUCATION (LFE) has been hailed as 'Outstanding across all areas of its provision' by Ofsted.
The result is a glowing endorsement of the work that LFE carries out in delivering the Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (ASE) to over 1200 Apprentice players at 81 professional football clubs, including Crystal Palace's scholars.
LFE was already viewed as one of the top work-based learning providers in the country with achievement and retention rates topping 90 per cent for the last three years.
However it has now received an official stamp of approval after eight of Her Majesty's Inspectors visited LFE and Football League Clubs, over a five day period in April.
Ofsted graded LFE as an Outstanding provider across all 23 areas of the inspection criteria including Leadership and Management, Quality of Provision, Outcomes for Learners and Equality & Diversity. LFE's Partnership work was highlighted as an area of excellence with over 20 partners contributing to improving the skills and experiences of Apprentices.
The report found that teaching and learning and the extent to which the training programme meets the needs and interests of the apprentice players, is outstanding.
LFE was also highly commended for the way in which learning support invigorates learning for the less able and extends learning for the more capable.
In addition, the use of enrichment activities for Apprentices was highlighted by the inspection team as an area of strength, with seminars covering topics such as drugs, gambling, alcohol, mental well-being and safe driving.
LFE's Chief Executive, Alan Sykes, is understandably delighted by this outcome. He said: "This report is a superb reward for the work that has been conducted across all clubs in The Football League in the delivery of the ASE programme during the last eight years.
"It was particularly pleasing that Ofsted acknowledged the care, guidance and support we offer Clubs and Apprentices as being outstanding.
"They also identified our promotion of Safeguarding as outstanding and it's great to see that they recognise the positive impact that this is having on our young players.
"Credit must go to all those involved in the day to day running of the programme because it is only through everyone pulling together that a result like this can be achieved. More crucially it is this dedication that ensures we achieve the very best we can for our Apprentice players year after year.
"LFE continually look to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of our Apprentices and we are proud to see that our contribution is really making a difference, not only in helping to produce professional players but in preparing young men for life beyond football."