First two Ofsted full-inspection reports bring ‘good’ news to colleges

Two colleges have received grade two from a full inspection, with one improving from a grade three

Two colleges have received grade two from a full inspection, with one improving from a grade three


The first colleges to have full inspection reports published by Ofsted since visits resumed have seen ‘good’ results.

West Thames College has improved from grade three to grade two, with an ‘outstanding’ for behaviour and attitudes.

East Durham College has maintained its grade two, originally awarded in 2008, also with a grade one for behaviour.

Inspectors found the former, which has two main sites in London, to be “a welcoming and inclusive place in which to study” by its 3,664 learners.

A “very high” proportion of adults “successfully get jobs or programmes at work” following their courses, and learners have benefitted from remote work experience at a local airport, while health and social care students volunteer with the NHS.

Leaders were praised for ensuring learners receive suitable careers advice and guidance, but it was found business administration apprentices do not receive “sufficient” advice and in a small number of cases, apprentices do not know what to do after their course ends.

Leaders have identified that they need to improve apprentices’ careers advice.

West Thames College principal Tracy Aust said providing high-quality provision in a safe environment “so effectively in the current climate is no mean feat” and she is “incredibly proud of our staff, our students and our partners”.

Both colleges praised for students’ behaviour

East Durham’s learners participate “enthusiastically” in lessons, with “exceptional” behaviour attributed to high expectations set by leaders and staff.

This ensures students are “respectful, courteous and very well-behaved in lessons, social spaces and workplaces” which creates a “safe and nurturing environment” across three centres.

The range of subjects and types of provision are “well informed by the needs of employers and key regional partners”, so learners and apprentices study programmes which provide opportunities for them to gain employment or move to alternative jobs.

Inspectors did find fault with teachers not taking sufficient account of the support and learning requirements of high-needs learners, while they and managers do not act early enough to identify adult learners’ additional needs.

College chair David Butler said staff and students’ “determination to work together to continue to offer the best educational experience we can, whatever the challenges we face, has been endorsed in this report”.

Full inspections by Ofsted resumed in September, after having been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman announced this week all colleges and FE providers will receive full inspections by summer 2025.

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