Adult education giant returns to top Ofsted rating

Inspectors said City Lit fostered ‘exceptionally well-motivated’ students

Inspectors said City Lit fostered ‘exceptionally well-motivated’ students

One of England’s largest adult education providers has been awarded top Ofsted marks across the board.

The inspectorate heaped praise on the City Literary Institute’s highly qualified and passionate tutors and “exceptionally well-motivated” students in an ‘outstanding’ report published today.

The London-based adult education charity was last fully inspected in 2016, when it received a ‘good’ rating, a downgrade on the ‘outstanding’ judgement it received in 2011.

In its latest report that returns the provider to top marks, inspectors said leaders have created a “very well-considered curriculum” to meet varying needs of students and who go on to achieve “exceptionally well” results.

City Lit is one of the oldest colleges in England, established in 1919, and offers part-time courses and adult learning courses to around 24,000 adult students in London and beyond. The college offers online courses in modern foreign languages, humanities and creative writing, specialist programmes in speech therapy and programmes for students who have learning disabilities.

During its 2020 monitoring visit examining its Covid-19 teaching procedures, City Lit students reported positive experiences of online learning and inspectors found the college made safety a high priority.

The ‘outstanding’ rating comes after a tough year for the charity. Earlier in 2022, the FE commissioner stepped in to give financial notice to improve over City Lit’s “inadequate” finances.

Then in December, online lessons and enrolment were halted due to a ransomware attack causing a month-long IT outage.

During its recent full inspection, which took place in May, Ofsted found City Lit managers maintained a high quality of teaching through frequent classroom visits, effective feedback, and a variety of training.

“As a result, tutors are highly effective in their practice and teach courses that students enjoy and by which they are inspired,” the report said.

City Lit principal Mark Malcomson told FE Week that the college was “absolutely delighted” with the outstanding Ofsted report, which “acknowledges the hard work and dedication of our entire community”.

“This recognition by Ofsted is a testament to the unwavering commitment of the staff and the leadership of City Lit in delivering excellence in education. We also make sure our students are learning in a supportive environment, ensuring a comprehensive and holistic learning experience for our students,” he said.

Ofsted also praised the college’s engagement with industry professions and employers.

“Consequently, students acquire skills that are industry-relevant, and result in gaining commissions, working with agents or securing permanent employment,” inspectors said.

Inspectors added that the college’s governors “support and challenge” leaders, provide effective scrutiny and guide the development of the college.

“Governors are well informed about the college’s strengths and weaknesses. They provide effective scrutiny of the provision and challenge to the senior leadership team that ensures that students benefit from high-quality provision, whatever they study.”

As a result, City Lit students are “inspired to learn” from their tutors. Inspectors said students excel in their studies, they prosper from the “highly supportive and respectful environment”, and they become motivated to participate in their communities and wider public life as a result of taking City Lit courses.

“Students flourish because of the new knowledge and skills they learn, the social networks they develop and the positive impact attending college has on their well-being,” the report said.

Malcomson added: “We are immensely proud of our staff, students, governors, partners and the wider community for their continued support and collaboration. It is an honour that we have been recognised as an exceptional institution.”

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  1. Phil Hatton

    Really excellent result for a provider operating purely with adults in the biggest inner city environment in the country. It shows that you can adapt your delivery model because of uncontrolled circumstances and still have motivated learners. Such a shame the current inspection and report model does not allow more sharing of undoubted good practice with the rest of the sector. Great result for all the staff