Ofsted grades fall in two more colleges

Two more colleges have dropped a grade in recent Ofsted inspections.

Bracknell and Wokingham College and Worcester College of Technology were both graded ‘satisfactory’ in Ofsted reports published last week, after having been awarded ‘good’ when inspected in 2009.

In the breakdown of the overall grade both colleges received a mix of marks, with a number of areas of provision deemed ‘good’.

Campbell Christie CBE, principal and chief executive of Bracknell and Wokingham College, said the Ofsted report was “a fair reflection on the college, particularly in regards to their focus on last year’s data”.

“The Ofsted team were constructive, worked with us and gave us some very useful consultancy,” he said.

The report read: “Over the last three years, the proportion of learners who successfully complete their course has fluctuated with few clear trends of improvement. Success rates improved in 2009/10 to be satisfactory only to decline again in 2010/11 to their previous level.”

Mr Christie highlighted that the college’s retention rates had been impacted by the “huge disruption” caused by the construction of the college’s new building.

Although there was some “outstanding” teaching at Bracknell and Wokingham College, “too much [was] dull and uninspiring”, according to Ofsted.

“A number of teachers understand the importance of varying teaching techniques and checking learning thoroughly, but many do not perform these roles well enough,” the report read.

One of the key points of praise, however, was the college’s partnership work, which was described as “particularly strong” and to have “a very positive benefit for the local community.”

Mr Christie, who has been at the College since September last year, said he wants to take the College’s involvement in the community “to an even higher level”.

“I’m pleased with it, but I shall never rest on my laurels,” he said.

The leadership team was strongly commended: “The principal has set a challenging agenda for change over the last 12 months with a strong focus on increasing success rates and providing high quality education and training…This has inspired staff to start to develop and improve the provision more effectively.”

The report added: “Learners feel very safe in the college environment. Standards of learners’ work are high overall and learners develop good employability and personal skills. There is significant evidence to show that outcomes generally have improved markedly for learners during 2011/12.”

The report for Worcester College of Technology gave a mixed picture of success rates. “Long course success rates have increased to just below average, but short course rates have decreased and are low,” it read.

“Success rates for learners aged 16 to 18 are high at foundation level, but are low at advanced level. Success rates for adults have increased significantly at advanced level. but are low at intermediate level.”

Teaching, learning and assessment was “satisfactory overall”, but “good for work-based learners”.

“Learning resources are good, especially the content and use of the virtual learning environment,” the report read. “Teachers check on and extend learners’ learning skilfully.”

The partnership arrangements were described as “outstanding”.

“Staff work very effectively with a wide range of organisations to enable the most vulnerable learners to access training…Most areas have excellent links with employers that improve provision.”