Stockport College plunges back to grade four Ofsted

Stockport College plunges back to grade four Ofsted

A struggling Greater Manchester college has dropped back down to ‘inadequate’, Ofsted inspectors have found.

Stockport College was hit with the grade four verdict in a report published today.

It leaves the college’s future looking as uncertain as ever after the report stated: “The college is still in administered status and will be dependent on funding agencies’ continued support to ensure that it can continue to operate in the future.”

The college, which was rated ‘outstanding’ by the education watchdog in 2008, originally fell to a grade four in 2013 when former FE commissioner David Collins said it could be forced to make up to 150 redundancies to “balance the books”.

Stockport then climbed out of administered status when it was rated ‘requires improvement’ in January last year and was lauded for making “rapid improvements” by the inspectorate.

But today’s damning report leaves the 4,400-learner college in deep water.

“Leaders and governors have not halted the decline in standards since the previous inspection,” the report said.

“Managers have not rectified areas for improvement noted at the last inspection; they do not identify gaps in college performance, nor do they take effective action to tackle them.

“Managers and the quality improvement processes they use have failed to identify significant weaknesses in the quality of the provision.”

Inspectors found that the “very large majority” of apprentices at the college do not complete their programmes “successfully within their planned time” and the “rate of achievement has declined significantly”.

They also found the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is “weak” with teachers failing to plan “effective learning to meet the specific abilities of all learners”, especially in English and maths where teachers “do not ensure that learners develop the skills they need”. Attendance in these subjects is also “significantly low”.

But inspectors did find that governors are having a good impact on the college.

“Well-qualified and experienced governors now offer effective challenge to the senior leadership team,” they said. “They have shown very effective strategic leadership during the area-based review and are committed to ensuring continuing further education for the local community.”

Simon Andrews, who took over from Ian Clinton as principal of Stockport College in February last year, said the report does not “accurately reflect” the improvements made at the college over the past 12 months and he would be appealing the judgment.

“We are naturally extremely disappointed with the outcome of the Ofsted inspection,” he said.

“The inspection judgement does not accurately reflect the distance the college has travelled over the past 12 months, nor does it reflect upon the hard work, effort and enthusiasm both learners and staff have put in to improvements across all aspects of what we do.

“We will be appealing Ofsted’s judgement.”

“We have many areas across the College to be proud of, for example; we currently have the best maths GCSE A* – C results of all Greater Manchester colleges, as well as being fourth best in English.

“Indeed, FE Week in their overall college league table rank Stockport at 117th out of 214 colleges which puts Stockport College ahead of around 50 per cent of colleges in the sector.

“The college is committed to providing high quality professional and technical education for the local community and is engaging positively with the agencies and stakeholders to do just that.”