College loses grade 1 after Ofsted lifts exemption

'Outstanding’ schools and colleges are being inspected for the first time since 2010

'Outstanding’ schools and colleges are being inspected for the first time since 2010

The first general FE college to lose its ‘outstanding’ rating since Ofsted lifted an exemption on inspecting grade one institutions has been revealed.

Blackpool and the Fylde College has received a grade two in its first visit from the watchdog since 2013.

‘Outstanding’ schools and colleges began to be inspected last term for the first time since 2010, after an exemption was removed last year.

The college follows other previously ‘outstanding’ general FE colleges – such as Walsall College and Havant and South Downs College – that were inspected following mergers prior to the exemption being lifted last January and are both now also ‘good’.

Ofsted previously said it expects fewer schools and college to stay ‘outstanding’ following the introduction of the education inspection framework in 2019. There are currently 29 colleges with the top overall judgement that are now in scope for routine inspection and 17 of those haven’t received a full inspection in more than a decade.

Blackpool and the Fylde College was teaching more than 5,000 students at the time if its inspection.

The college was graded ‘good’ in seven of the eight themes judged. But it was judged to be ‘requires improvement’ for apprenticeships.

The college was praised for how it helps students transition successfully into the world of work, and for how leaders have worked with employer partners to co-create its curriculum, which is aligned to local skills priorities.

Adult education programmes also “often transform students’ lives as they enable them to progress to further study or into employment”, while students’ confidence “improves markedly because of the support they receive from tutors”.

Ofsted said most apprentices do develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours, but a “significant minority” of the 1,643 apprentices at the college “do not remain on their course or complete their apprenticeship programmes on time”.

Bev Robinson, principal and CEO of the college, said: “At Blackpool and the Fylde College we welcome all feedback as a means to further enhance our high-quality professional and technical education and training to ensure that all students and apprentices receive a rewarding learning experience that will enable them to secure meaningful careers.

“We continue to develop our support for students, apprentices and businesses across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and the wider region.”

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  1. Phil Hatton

    Assume that this will be published on Monday? Highly unusual for report findings to be in the press before publication. However, Ofsted seem to have a policy of not allowing any areas for improvement for outstanding judgements to be made and have a ‘hitlist’ on insufficient impartial careers advice on almost every inspection. Interesting to see what the report says.