Ofsted downgrades large Birmingham college to ‘requires improvement’

Inspectors criticise low achievement rates and poor attendance at SCCB

Inspectors criticise low achievement rates and poor attendance at SCCB

18 Apr 2024, 16:59

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A large college in Birmingham has been hit with a first ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted judgment, as it reveals plans to close a troubled academy for 14- to 16-year-olds.

The inspectorate downgraded South and City College Birmingham (SCCB) from a long-held ‘good’ rating in a report published today which revealed low qualification achievement rates, particularly in English and maths, and attendance concerns.

Ofsted also flagged poor teaching and bad behaviour in the college’s 14 to 16 provision, including homophobic name-calling which made a minority of students “feel vulnerable”.

The academy, which offers pathways in engineering and technical crafts, health sciences, physical education, animal care and art and design, opened in 2019 and currently teaches 123 young people.

Ofsted said teachers in the 14 to 16 academy “do not check learning and challenge misconceptions effectively”, and it lacks a “clearly designed curriculum for English or maths that supports the needs of learners”. The students also use “some poor language” which undermines a “considerate culture” found in the wider college.

SCCB told FE Week the viability of the academy has been under consideration for “some time” due to staffing resource challenges. It has now decided to shut the academy for new applicants as of September 2024.

SCCB has eight campuses across Birmingham, with the majority of its 10,000 students being adults. 

The college was judged to be ‘good’ by Ofsted for its delivery of adult education and apprenticeships but was downgraded overall due to the quality of education for young people and leadership and management.

Ofsted reported that most learners and apprentices “greatly value the relationships they have with their teachers” and become “respectful and active citizens”.

But inspectors found that “many” learners do not routinely attend lessons and therefore miss “valuable learning opportunities”.

Leaders were criticised for being “too slow to resolve the significant underperformance in the quality of education”.

SCCB leaders told inspectors that in the previous few years, they have been “greatly affected” by Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis, a cyber-attack and a failure in their data systems. 

Ofsted reported that there are poor levels of retention and pass rates across all age groups and provision types. The watchdog’s report said: “Consequently, too few learners and apprentices achieved the qualifications they had trained for.”

Inspectors noted that leaders have recently taken action to improve the quality of education by restructuring management posts and invested in new management data systems. 

They also refocused staff on attendance, assessments and improving teaching.

Principal Mike Hopkins said: “Whilst the outcome of the recent inspection wasn’t as we’d hoped it would be, we’re confident that the improvements we’d started to implement in advance of Ofsted’s recent visit, are already paying dividends.

“The past three years have been amongst the most challenging that the college has experienced and the impact that Covid had on our learners cannot be underestimated, but we must learn from this and look to the future.

“I have every confidence that we will deliver a tangible turnaround by the time we’re monitored and then fully re-inspected.”

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One comment

  1. Rob Smith

    Amazing, the lead piece on FE Weekly today laments how colleges have never seen it worse in terms of exclusions from school etc and yet colleges are slammed for not quite managing to re-enfranchise the dis-enfranchised…….only in FE could this be a reality!