College is ‘outstanding’ after no-notice inspection

The first further education college to be graded under a no-notice inspection has been graded ‘outstanding’.

As revealed on Friday by Matthew Coffey, the national director of Learning and Skills for Ofsted in his first ‘FE Expert’ for FE Week, education regulator Ofsted is piloting the new inspection time frame as part of its consultation ‘A good education for all’.

Under the pilot, Exeter College were the inaugural recipients – and, according to the college, the result has become a cause for celebration.

The inspection, lasting a full week, has graded the college outstanding overall, with the three key themes; student outcomes, teaching and learning, and leadership and management also gaining an outstanding grade.

It was the best inspection profile of any college in an Ofsted inspection so far this academic year, while the Inspectors graded teaching and learning as outstanding for the first time in a further education college in the last two years.

Richard Atkins, principal since 2002, said: “This is an important national accolade for the staff and students of Exeter and the Heart of Devon and we are very proud that the college has been tested under such stringent conditions as the first no-notice inspection in the country.”

Colleges and schools ordinarily have three weeks warning, but the senior managers at the college got the call just 45 minutes before the team of Ofsted inspectors arrived.

The new Ofsted Inspection framework aims to conduct no-notice inspections in order to give a real reflection of the teaching and learning taking place.

Mr Atkins added: “We were determined that the inspectors were able to experience the high standard of teaching and learning that goes on across the college and see the skills and talents of our staff and students.

“This new style of inspection meant a more meaningful test since they truly saw the college during a working week and spoke to many students while they were here, to check out their experiences of the college.”

For more on this, see the next edition of FE Week.