Darlington College goes from inadequate to good Ofsted rating

Darlington College has recovered to an Ofsted ‘good’ rating a little over a year after it was branded ‘inadequate’.

The education watchdog deemed the provider to be ‘good’ across the board and ‘outstanding’ in its delivery of adult learning programmes, in a report released on June 23.

It was previously hit with a grade four across-the-board rating last March, which was all the more devastating because it had tumbled from ‘outstanding’ in 2009.

In the latest report, governors, leaders and managers at the college were praised for making “significant progress in tackling the serious weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”, which were all said to be “now good or improved”.

The curriculum was deemed “well-planned”, “coherent” and meeting “the priorities of the local enterprise partnerships, the needs of employers and the local community”.

Adult learning, the college’s strongest area, was said to often make “transformative changes” in the learners’ lives, and technical and employability skills across the student body were said to be developed well.

Provision for learners with high needs was deemed “excellent”.

The college, which was inspected in May, is a medium-sized general FE college that also provides basic skills for army personnel based locally.

It is set to merge with nearby Stockton Riverside College following the Tees Valley area review, which came to an end in May.

The latest Oftsed report added that to progress to an ‘outstanding’ grade, Darlington needed to ensure that more apprentices “achieve their qualification in the planned time in subcontracted provision”.

Attendance in maths was also highlighted as an area for improvement.

Ofsted recommended that tutors “plan learning to meet all learners’ needs” in these subjects, and also suggested they help apprentices to “extend their English and mathematics skills beyond that of the minimum requirements for their apprenticeship framework”.

The report also raised the issue of the government’s anti-terrorist Prevent strategy, saying that a minority of apprenticeship assessors “do not reinforce or explore modern British values or the ‘Prevent’ duty sufficiently with apprentices”.

Darlington College principal Kate Roe said: “The report is testament to the hard work of every single member of staff who have all pulled together to adapt to change, make improvements and raise standards.

“There have been enormous strides in the quality of teaching, and hard work and determination among staff to achieve the massive progress we have made.”

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