The Wiser Academy, the UK’s leading training and development centre for the insurance industry, has been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted following a full inspection in February.
The award means Wiser Academy is the only educational establishment in the insurance sector to achieve outstanding status, and according to Managing Director Crescens George, gives the Academy the best possible platform to encourage brokers and insurers to send their best and brightest for training.
The Academy which was founded in 2014 offers apprenticeships training for ACII qualifications as well as a BA (Hons) degree in Insurance. Around 180 students went through the Academy last year, and Mr George said his aim, now the pandemic has eased is to double the size of the business within the next two years.
Inspectors graded the Academy outstanding for quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, leadership and apprenticeships. Personal development was rated good.
Ofsted said: “Leaders plan and provide high-quality, highly personalised training. Leaders have made it their mission to train the apprentices so that they are the highest qualified insurance specialists. Apprentices in the insurance sector value and benefit from the training, with employers reaping the rewards too.”
The Inspection found that apprentices “quickly learn, understand, and can readily use the language used in the insurance sector. This allows the apprentices to work independently early in their careers.
“They demonstrate highly professional behaviours and attitudes and are proud to represent the insurance sector. Apprentices are enthusiastic to attend sessions. They are very keen to learn from their trainers and workplace mentors. This learning allows them to quickly become valuable team members at work.”
Academy MD Crescens George commented:
“We are thrilled with our rating; to be classed as outstanding is a fantastic spearhead for our ambitious growth plans, he said, adding: “Most importantly it gives our customers and learners confidence that they’ll get the best available support and care.”
Mr George explained that after the last inspection in 2020, which had Wiser Academy as ‘Progressing,’ the management team sat down and “thought through what we could do to meet the necessary criteria for Outstanding.”
He said: “Instead of trying to tick all the Ofsted boxes, we focused instead on putting our employers and learners at the heart of everything we do. In doing this, meeting the Ofsted criteria became a natural output of the change in approach.”
That included putting all the trainers through teacher qualification. “We expanded our training team (to six) and while they had ample insurance experience, we wanted to give them teaching skills too. We have also widened our course work to include intensive sales training for our learners, which is outside the requirements of ACII but ensures apprentices are fully equipped to add extra value to their businesses. We don’t want off the shelf apprenticeships; everything we do is tailored to the needs of our business clients, and Ofsted recognised this in their report [check].
Mr George said the Academy has also proactively reduced the level of bureaucracy, which he said tends to be endemic in training and development.
“An overly bureaucratic system benefits nobody, especially employers, and we set ourselves the target of being as light on paperwork as possible. Our aim is for employers to feel that the Wiser Academy is simply a valued extension to their own training department.”
He said that, as the UK insurance industry emerges from the pandemic, the rationale for insurance firms to invest in training and development has never been stronger. “Our industry is competing for the best talent, and we need to appeal to young people who don’t want the university experience.”
“Our Outstanding accolade from Ofsted provides our clients with confidence that they are getting the best possible insurance education for their people.”
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