Iconic Liverpool hairdresser banned from hiring apprentices

Herbert Howe, one of Liverpool’s most popular salon owners, has been told by Ofsted to close down his training centre after offering ‘inadequate outcomes’ for his apprentices.


‘Inadequate’ facilities

In 2013, Ofsted gave Herbert of Liverpool Training (HOLT) centre a rating of 3, meaning that drastic improvements had to be made. Last year, the apprenticeship centre was rated slightly higher with a mark of 4, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the salon from closing.

Howe, 71, has now been told to shut down HOLT after the education watchdog released a damning report regarding the low amount of successful apprentices that pass through its doors. The local personality also owns the Herbert of Liverpool hairdressing salon, which has so far been unaffected by the announcement.

‘‘Outcomes for apprentices are inadequate; over the past three years the proportion of apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship has declined and is low. Apprentices take too long to complete their programme and only half successfully achieve in the planned time,’’ stated the Ofsted report.

‘‘Teaching, learning, and assessment are inadequate.’’


Bad timing

The closure means that the Skills Funding Agency was forced to withdraw its contract from HOLT; an agreement which Howe claims is worth around £600,000. The salon owner is furious regarding the timing of Ofsted’s report, as it comes just days before he undergoes an operation to remove a life-threatening brain tumour.

‘‘I have been training for 29-years – I have trained 11,000 apprentices and they have all been given qualifications. All my teachers were very highly marked by Ofsted, then we were told just before the operation we were given fours on every grade,’’ Howe told the Liverpool Echo.

‘‘Surely the ones and twos should be put against the fours? They said, ‘If we did that we would have to give you a higher grade’. They told me, ‘We are not interested in quality’ and that tells me what’s wrong with our country now.’’

Howe is disappointed with Ofsted’s decision, as he is now unable to teach new apprentices, something which he’s been doing since he was 17.

Young recruits didn’t just receive lessons in hairdressing while working at HOLT; they also gained qualifications in English and maths, as well as receiving vital health and safety training.

‘‘The government wants to get rid of training schools. We were the biggest provider in Merseyside.’’

‘‘When you have invested £1m in training facilities and they take it off you without compensation, it leaves a nasty taste,’’ continued Howe.

The salon owner then lashed out at rival businesses, revealing that they cut corners in order to receive a decent grade from Ofsted.

‘‘Am I being penalised for my honesty? I fulfil the full criteria for apprenticeships.’’

‘‘They said we were down in numbers completing in a timely way, but surely that’s more expensive for me to have teachers taking longer over it?’’

I am highly respected in the hairdressing industry and I have a life time achievement award from the British hairdressing industry. It’s my life. When they heard this all the hairdressers were so shocked.’’