Ofsted watch: Week of extremes for FE providers

Results from this week’s Ofsted reports for FE have ranged between the very worst and the very best.

Independent specialist college Strathmore College was found to have made ‘significant progress’ in four out of five themes, making ‘reasonable progress’ in the other area.

The inspector noted that, since their last inspection returned a grade three, governors had appointed an experienced person to lead on teaching, learning and assessment.

“The new post-holder has been instrumental in shaping and implementing a clear vision for high-quality teaching, learning and assessment,” the inspector wrote.

Managers at Strathmore have also improved their performance evaluations of staff by making their observations more accurate and evaluative.

East Sussex College Group was seen to have made ‘significant progress’ in three out of five themes following the merger between Sussex Coast College Hastings and Sussex Downs College in April.

“Governors, leaders and managers have worked highly effectively since the merger of the colleges to establish the identity of each campus and place each one at the heart of its local community,” the inspector said.

“Governors have established local boards for each campus to which local business, community and education leaders contribute. This has enabled each campus leader to develop a curriculum that meets local skills needs.”

The inspector added: “High aspirations and ambitions permeate every aspect of college life, from governors to students.

“Staff have a renewed sense of urgency and importance about improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and students’ and apprentices’ outcomes.”

The report from a monitoring visit at Telford College was also published this week. The college was formed when Telford College of Arts and Technology merged with New College Telford – both of which required improvement at their last inspection.

It fared well: inspectors said it had made ‘reasonable progress’ in two themes and ‘significant progress’ in the third.

Inspectors picked up on a particular improvement in the teaching of English and maths, which has been achieved through the use of learning facilitators to catch learners who fall behind and projects to help enthuse study programme and functional skills students.

Sandwell College was found to have made reasonable progress in all five of its monitoring visit themes.

It was visited by an Ofsted inspector as it recently merged with Cadbury Sixth Form College, a grade three provider.

Beforehand, the inspector reported, the impetus had been on the concerns of staff; whereas now, leaders and managers are working hard to shift the focus to the experience of students.

There were variances in the quality of teaching though. In the worst cases, assessment of learning is weak and teachers move on to new activities too quickly, before checking students have understood the current activity.

Independent specialist college The Autism Project – Care Trade was subject to a monitoring visit after scoring a grade three at its last inspection.

This time around, it was found to have made ‘significant progress’ in safeguarding, with the inspector writing: “Leaders and managers have successfully overhauled the student induction process and introduced the themes of safeguarding and equality and diversity to their day one induction workshop.”

Leaders and managers had also put in place effective measures to identify a learner’s starting points in English, maths and personal and social development.

It was not all good news, however: The Sandwell Community Caring Trust received its first monitoring visit since opening in January and was found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in two out of three areas.

The inspector was not impressed with its leadership, writing: “Leaders and managers did not fully appreciate the challenges of setting up as a new training provider.”

Apprentices have also not been given adequate time to prepare for the end-point assessment of standards-based courses, as managers failed to meet a deadline for the assessments that they set.

SCL Security Ltd was found to be delivering ‘insufficient’ apprenticeships, as reported by FE Week on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, arts and media provider Sheffield Independent Film and Television went from a grade two in 2016 to a grade four in a report published this week.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
Sandwell College 23/01/2019 14/02/2019 M 2 RRRRR
Telford College 16/01/2019 15/02/2019 M M RRS
East Sussex College Group 12/12/2018 15/02/2019 M M SRRSS

 

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
SCL Security Ltd 15/01/2019 13/02/2019 M M IIR
Sheffield Independent Film and Television Limited 09/01/2019 14/02/2019 4 2  
The Sandwell Community Caring Trust 16/01/2019 13/02/2019 M M IIR

 

Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
The Autism Project – CareTrade 30/01/2019 15/02/2019 M M SRRR
Strathmore College 24/01/2019 13/02/2019 M 3 SSSSR