Land-based college retains ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade

Hartpury College celebrates another grade 1, six years after it last achieved the feat

Hartpury College celebrates another grade 1, six years after it last achieved the feat

A specialist sports and land-based college in Gloucester has received its second consecutive ‘outstanding’ Ofsted result.

Hartpury College was handed the top rating by Ofsted in all areas late last month, in a report that also lauded the college’s ‘strong’ contribution to meeting local skills needs.

The college was first handed an ‘outstanding’ grade in 2009, and after a period under a grade two ‘good’ rating, achieved the top rating once more in 2018.

“Retaining our outstanding rating is testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff, whose passion for what they do creates a dynamic learning environment for our students,” said Andy Collop, principal of Hartpury College.

The college at the time of inspection had around 2,000 learners aged 16 to 18 on level 2 and 3 programmes, 700 of which live on campus. It also had a small cohort of adults studying higher education courses and under 50 apprentices at the college.

Inspectors praised learners’ behaviour and participation in extracurricular activities and “high-quality” work placements to improve their skills and confidence.

They added that staff are “highly inspirational” for learners and apprentices and apply curriculums “very effectively” so they build their knowledge, skills, and behaviours securely over time.

The report also commended the college’s provision of careers information such as agriculture learners receiving talks from organisations specialising in livestock genetics, nature conservation, crop and grain marketing.

Additionally, inspectors applauded the college’s achievement rate of learners, apprentices and adults.

The report found nearly all learners successfully completed their courses. The majority of level 2 learners with high needs move onto level 3 programmes, nearly all adults on higher education courses gain a place at university, and apprentices are “highly valued” by their employers.

In 2023, 98 per cent of A-level students passed their courses, while BTEC diploma students achieved an overall 99 per cent pass rate. The college added that 97 per cent of students progressed into employment, university or further study last year.

Hartpury College was found to make a strong contribution to meeting industry skills needs through staff working with business representatives such as the Federation of Small Businesses to understand the needs of employers.

College leaders were praised for investing in capital and physical resources to meet gaps in digital skills in agriculture as identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Local Skills Improvement Plan.

“This is such an important aspect of what we do and really does reflect how well our offer aligns with skills requirements related to current and future job toles in support of the local, regional, and national economy,” said deputy principal Claire Whitworth.

The watchdog said managers provide a broad range of continuous professional development for staff, which is linked to the identified areas of improvement.

For example, agriculture and animal care staff carry out training in rough terrain telehandlers, cross-cutting chainsaw operation and nutritional management for dogs. Workers also learn how to deal with learners with SEND and high needs.  

“Teachers of learners with high needs build their skills very well over time, taking account of their individual needs and preferred learning strategies,” the report said.

Lastly, Ofsted said that governors were supporting and challenging leaders well as understand the detail of curriculum developments and how well curriculum areas are performing.

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