Ofsted: First ‘outstanding’ for Burton and South Derbyshire College

Inspectors praise ‘high performing culture’ and ‘exceptionally strong’ employer relationships

Inspectors praise ‘high performing culture’ and ‘exceptionally strong’ employer relationships

Burton and South Derbyshire College has been awarded top marks across the board from Ofsted.

The medium-sized general FE college received ‘outstanding’ grades in every category for creating a “high performing culture” and “exceptionally strong” relationships between teachers and students as well as employers.

This is the first ever grade one for Burton and South Derbyshire College and follows a previous ‘good’ judgment in 2017 and ‘requires improvement’ the year prior.

Chief executive Dawn Ward said the college was “delighted that the hard work, passion, dedication and commitment of all college staff to serve our learners and industry partners has been recognised in this result”, but added that she is “very conscious that it’s at a point in time”.

“We are therefore focused on continuing to serve our communities and working hand in hand with our industry, education and voluntary partners to nurture the talent of the future,” Ward added.

Inspectors visited the college in October when it had 1,724 learners on level 1 to 3 programmes, 684 adult learners and 86 learners with high needs. The college also operates a construction academy and specialist apprenticeship development centre for level 2 and 3 engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships for Toyota Manufacturing UK.

The watchdog found that learners benefit from “high-quality teaching” and have plentiful academic resources and extra-curricular activities.

These activities include construction skills certification scheme cards, participating in international work experience, exchange placements, and opportunities to participate in WorldSkills competitions.

“Collectively these activities successfully support learners and apprentices to make informed decisions about their futures and career aspirations,” the report said.

Ofsted praised the “exceptionally strong” relationships between teachers, learners and apprentices.

Inspectors said learners have excellent attitudes to learning and are considerate of each other, their teachers and visitors to the college.

The college was also found to deliver “well planned and carefully crafted support” for learners who have experienced difficulties and/or trauma in their lives, such as care leavers and those with mental health difficulties.

In Ofsted’s new remit to examine whether colleges are meeting local skills needs, Burton and South Derbyshire College was found to be making a ‘strong’ contribution through its “highly productive” partnerships with employer representative groups, civic and community organisations and other key agency partners.

“For example, as part of a seven-college partnership, leaders at BSDC contributed to the curriculum design and development of a digital literacy and capability programme to enhance the information technology skills of learners across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire,” the report said.

Pastoral and academic support were found to be “outstanding”. The watchdog found that tutorial provision is structured around the ‘BE’ model of BE Tutorial; BE Independent; BE Social. This allowed learners to develop a precise understanding of life in modern contemporary society and their role in advocating democratic principles, such as the importance of celebrating differences and treating each other as equals.

Ofsted also found that the leadership and governance of BSDC have created a “high performing culture” which brings out the best in everyone, where staff feel valued and morale is high.

“Leaders have a clear sense of purpose in meeting the educational and skills needs of the communities and industry-related sectors that the college seeks to serve,” inspectors said.

Teachers ensure foundation learning components are taught early in the course and are “highly adept” at ensuring learning increases in complexity over time.

“They are excellent role models, providing inspiration, motivation and challenging learners and apprentices to do their best at all times. Teachers integrate English and mathematics effectively into almost all lessons,” inspectors praised.

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