Fashion Retail Academy is Officially Outstanding

Fashion Retail Academy officially Outstanding


  • The FRA has received an overall Ofsted Outstanding grade after a full Ofsted Inspection in September 2016
  • The FRA was awarded the highest possible rating on every area of the CIF

The Fashion Retail Academy (FRA), a unique employer led college with charitable status born out of the industry 12 years ago, has reached the pinnacle of public assessment by being officially recognised as outstanding by Ofsted.

During the full inspection at the end of September 2016, Ofsted praised specific areas of expertise and highlighted:

  • Leaders, governors and managers have established a culture of excellence that results in very high achievement for learners
  • Outstanding partnerships with fashion retail employers ensure that learners benefit from a rich and relevant curriculum
  • Teaching, learning and assessment are of the highest quality
  • Learners develop excellent industry-related skills and knowledge that prepare them very well for prestigious employment within the fashion retail industry
  • Learners’ achievement is outstanding and progression into employment is exceptional
  • Working relationships between learners and staff at the Fashion Retail Academy are exemplary
  • Excellent ongoing careers advice and guidance
  • Almost all learners gain employment at their first-choice employer or move into higher education.
  • Highly effective safeguarding arrangements ensure that learners are very safe
  • Excellent learning facilities and resources
  • Quality assurance measures are demanding and have a substantial impact, and governors, managers and staff monitor learners’ achievement assiduously.

Lee Lucas, Principal & CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, said:

“We are delighted at the recognition of the unique and pioneering nature of the FRA. This is testament to our innovative model and would not be possible without the support of our employer and retail partners along with our dedicated and passionate staff.

The FRA has been a catalyst for bringing together an extremely competitive industry for a common purpose to achieve a shared goal; to develop and inspire talent for a specialist career in fashion retail. I believe that it is these relationships, along with our continued focus on ensuring everything we do results in positive outcomes for learners, that is the biggest factor in our success.

Almost 7,000 learners aged 16 years or older have passed through the FRA over the past 12 years, with outstanding outcomes as a direct result of both the curriculum, which was written by industry and is updated annually by our retail partners, and the unrivalled industry involvement. This unique combination of education and sector involvement can be seen with 76% of learners gaining employment (in roles directly relevant to their course of study) and 18% furthering their education at some of the UKs leading universities. Within this, 90% of graduates from our growing suite of Level 4 programmes secure relevant employment.

We have been a driving force for industry pipeline development and now work with over 130 brands who support the FRA by providing multiple services to enrich the student experience and in turn they benefit from a pool of talented, trained new entrants to recruit from. Remaining at the forefront of innovation and keeping the needs of employers at the top of our agenda is critical. Where current or emerging skills gaps are identified we proactively develop programmes to address them, grounding this work in insights from our industry partners and robust research. This ensures our offer is cutting edge, meets the needs of our stakeholders and is mindful of the future.

We are currently working on multiple strategic projects to further enhance our experience and offer which included the launch of two new Higher Education courses.

We are delighted with the Ofsted report which captures the essence of life at the FRA exceptionally well.”



The FRA was formed in response to an overwhelming skills gap for skilled new entrants to the sector which no other provider was solving. The FRA was founded as the trailblazer for the National Skills Academy model which paved the way for the many that followed, as a private-public partnership with leading retailers funding its start-up, matched with funds from the Government.

The FRA is a charity with a mission to inspire and develop talent for a specialist career in fashion retail. We have developed a reputation for excellence and established a track record of attracting high calibre individuals to in demand roles.  This has been achieved through honing our unique education to employment model, which features industry involvement, experienced teachers with a retail background and work placements leading to high rates of progression to target jobs.

Over 130 retailers now work in partnership with the FRA from high street, digital to luxury brands. The UK remains a key focus for the FRA and our learners travel and relocate from around the British Isles to study with us. Our employer partners are equally as nationwide and in an increasingly globalised market, our reputation for quality and employer responsiveness now sees international interest in the FRAs model.  Companies look to us to develop fit for purpose, occupationally specific, training programmes both for new entrants to the labour market and for upskilling the existing workforce.

Notes to Editors

A copy of the full inspection report will be available on the Ofsted website from Monday 7th November 2016 and can be accessed by searching for The Fashion Retail Academy at