Catholic sixth form college stays ‘outstanding’ after 15-year inspection gap

The college's student population almost doubled in that time

The college's student population almost doubled in that time

A Catholic sixth form college in Manchester is celebrating after retaining its ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating after 15 years – a period in which its student population almost doubled.

Xaverian College had around 1,500 learners back in February 2008, when it was last fully inspected, but now has more than 2,800 students according to its latest inspection report published today.

The catholic sixth form college, based in Rusholme, Manchester, was handed the top rating in all areas following its latest visit in March 2023.

Delighted college principal Anthony Knowles said the report was a testament to the hard work of staff and students over the last 15 years.

“At Xaverian, we put our students first and ensure that they leave college with the highest grades possible and fond memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” he said.

“As principal of the college, I have to say how proud I am of everyone within the college community who has contributed to this outcome, and of our amazing students who consistently demonstrate their commitment to their studies and the enthusiasm they have for being a part of the Xaverian family.”

Most students are on A-level, vocational level 3 programmes or a mix of both, with a small number on level 2 vocational courses or foundation learning studies.

Inspectors praised the “overwhelmingly positive” attitude of students, who spoke highly of the support they received, as well as the pride staff took in working at the college and the high expectations they placed on learners.

Ofsted said the culture of the college was “warm, welcoming and aspirational” and included “extensive” extra-curricular activities.

The report noted that students were well-informed about studying at higher levels and prepared well for their progression into higher education, apprenticeships or work.

Inspectors said the college had a good relationship with the local authority and other Catholic colleges and feeder schools.

It said that leaders offered additional programmes to boost employability in specific skills areas, including an extended project qualification for students to develop independent research skills, an access programme for students aspiring to careers as dentists and health professionals and qualifications for music students.

In addition, access programmes developed with higher education partners helped support disadvantaged students in priority subjects such as science.

The report said that teachers are experienced subject experts who delivered a “highly ambitious curriculum” while leaders personalised continuous professional development for staff to boost students’ learning.

Staff took time to find out what learners can and can’t do at the start of their courses, with teaching planned to help learners remember key concepts, the report continued.

For SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) students, inspectors said support was “highly effective”, with students making progress in line with their peers and teachers receiving specialised training in areas such as mental health, autism and visual impairments.

The report continued that precise feedback on homework helped students progress.

Leaders were praised for monitoring the quality of education and being “considerate of staff’s welfare and workload” while governors were also recognised for their commitment to the college’s vision.

The feat means all 44 of England’s sixth form colleges continue to be rated either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

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