A sixth form college has retained an ‘outstanding’ grade from Ofsted 13 years after its last inspection.
Blackpool Sixth Form College was lauded by inspectors for creating a “truly aspirational place to learn” in a report published today that resulted in grade ones across the board.
Principal Jill Gray said she was “absolutely thrilled” with the result, which is a “real testament to the staff who work tirelessly for our students”.
She added: “It has been a challenging few years so to have Ofsted come in and tell us what we’re doing is great is just so rewarding. I’m so delighted for the students, for the community and for Blackpool.”
‘Outstanding’ schools and colleges began to be inspected last term for the first time since 2010, after an exemption was removed last year.
Blackpool Sixth Form College was last inspected in 2009.
Ofsted praised the “calm, professional and inclusive learning environment where students feel safe and can flourish” at the college in today’s report.
Inspectors judged the college’s curriculum to be “high-quality, comprehensive and ambitious” supporting students “to make substantial progress throughout their learning programmes”.
They were impressed with the expertise of teaching staff who “create a range of stimulating learning activities” and also noted the progression of students to further study and careers, supported by “a very strong programme of ongoing careers advice while on their courses”.
At the time of the inspection, there were 2,205 students attending the college, almost all of whom were studying level 3 full-time education programmes, such as A-levels and applied general qualifications, for young people.
Ofsted pointed out that the proportion of young people who leave school with five GCSEs in the Blackpool area, including in English and mathematics at grades 9 to 4, is significantly below the national average. There are also “pockets of significant deprivation across the area that the college serves”.
Inspectors highlighted opportunities for personal development beyond the students’ classroom learning as a key feature of the college. It was noted that “staff provide extensive enrichment activities that they purposefully, skilfully and seamlessly integrate into every student’s curriculum”.
Support for students with additional needs was judged to be exemplary, with staff implementing “support strategies to help them to achieve at least as well as their peers”.
The inspectors also highlighted the way in which the college creates “a culture where respect for others and diversity are celebrated” for example through the college’s LGBT+ group, and they noted that students are encouraged to help their local communities through activities such as charity fundraising.