A Nottinghamshire independent specialist college providing vocational courses for high needs students has been hailed for its “highly inclusive and supportive” education in an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report.
The education watchdog visited Portland College near Sherwood Forest in January, giving the top rating in all areas in a report published on Thursday and improving on the college’s ‘good’ rating from 2017.
The college had 216 learners aged 16 to 25 at the time of the visit, all of whom have high needs or education health and care plans (EHCPs), as well as four learners on supported internship programmes.
Inspectors said learners are greeted by “kind and caring staff”, praising the close working of teaching, support and therapy staff to create a “calm, nurturing and exciting place to learn”.
The report found staff developed an “excellent rapport” with learners with a “compassionate approach” which taught students to manage their behaviour and feelings positively, highlighting their “unwavering commitment” to students’ personal development.
It found the college taught students well about the risks they may experience in the world, including from extremist groups praying on vulnerable learners and on social media, as well as other wider topics such as sexual health, law, cultural diversity and self-esteem.
Staff were given specialist training in areas such as sign language, mental health and neurodiversity, and by getting to know students well teaching staff were able to identify areas for learners to develop.
Elsewhere, Ofsted said the college’s strategy “links strongly to the preparation for adulthood agenda” with health and wellbeing “at the heart of the strategic plan”.
The report continued that targets were closely linked to learners’ EHCPs, and “as a result, learners benefit from a highly personalised and ambitious curriculum and make excellent progress to achieve their learning goals.”
Ofsted found that the majority of students moved on to positive post-college destinations, such as adult day services, supported living, employment or further study.
Governor oversight of the college was found to be “highly effective”, the report added.
College principal and chief executive Dr Mark Dale said he was “delighted” with the findings, adding: “We work really hard every day to ensure our learners have access to the best specialist education and facilities, supported by an excellent multi-disciplinary team to meet their individual needs.”