Ofsted watch: Fourth sixth form college makes it to ‘outstanding’ this year

Another sixth form college has received a grade one, making it the fourth such provider to receive the coveted result in 2020.

Ashton Sixth Form College improved on the grade two it received before it converted to a 16 to 19 academy in February 2019.

Not improving are independent training providers Piper Training and People and Business Development – both of which were slapped with ‘inadequate’ grades.

Inspectors complimented Ashton’s 2,158 students on their “exemplary” behaviour and for taking pride in their work.

Leaders and governors are “highly ambitious” for them, and “promote exceptionally high standards and pursue excellence in teaching, learning and assessment across all areas of the college”.

The college also caters to 104 adult learners, most of whom are returning to education to study English and mathematics at level 2 or below, which help them develop their confidence and self-belief.

Following their grade four, Piper Training has told FE Week it has decided to stop delivering apprenticeships in England, after inspectors reported learners were “angry because assessors had not visited them” so they were making “slow progress”.

People and Business Development’s apprentices “gain little” from studying with the provider, and too few complete their qualification on time.

After previously getting a grade three, inspectors reported its leaders have “failed to act quickly to improve the quality of education” and do not share the programme of learning with employers, apprentices or adult learners.

Other independent providers performed better: Access Training (East Midlands) maintained a grade two, with a large majority of its 600 apprentices appearing to benefit from its strong links with voluntary organisations and employers.

Inspectors considered a large majority of tutors and assessors to be knowledgeable within their subject areas and leaders support their ongoing training so their subject knowledge is up-to-date.

NDA Foundation Limited made ‘significant progress’ in one area of a monitoring visit, conducted after they received a grade three in January 2019.

The progress was made in ensuring quality assurance arrangements lead to improvements in the quality of education and online training, where the watchdog said managers have created new processes for checking the quality of taught lessons through observation.

Also making ‘significant progress’ in a monitoring visit was Peterborough Regional College, where inspectors followed-up on a grade three report last May.

Managers have “focused very effectively” on supporting teachers when they are planning learning, so they and assessors can carefully plan and sequence their curriculum.

This means learners quickly grasp key concepts, whereas in the previous inspection it was noted teachers do not know if learners have understood the topics they are teaching.

Adult and community learning providers had a streak of ‘good’ results broken by Wiltshire Council, which received a grade three for not reaching enough of the people who would benefit from its adult learning programmes.

The provider, which focuses on helping disadvantaged communities, does not work closely enough with partner organisations to design and promote a curriculum to attract potential new learners, the report reads.

The adult and community learning service on the Isle of Wight impressed its inspectors with a “relaxed and inclusive environment” where the 222 learners feel comfortable asking for help.

Learners with mental health issues get to work with ponies to develop their confidence, thanks to courses with an equestrian centre.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council was commended on its “exceptionally well-qualified and experienced” tutors: art tutors are practising artists themselves, and sewing tutors have extensive experience of upholstery.

Governance arrangements at the provider have also been strengthened since the previous inspection, with the board providing a strong strategic steer for senior leaders to adapt provision to the council’s changing priorities.

Many courses at Norfolk County Council Adult Learning helped learners overcome their loneliness and isolation from society, such as lip-reading classes which helped students lead an active life.

Tutors’ discussions about national issues help the 143 apprentices relate the events to their own learning. For example, they understand how Brexit might affect future trading with Europe.

Independent provider T3 Training and Development and employer provider the Chief Constable of Surrey both made ‘reasonable progress’ in all areas of an early monitoring visit.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Peterborough Regional College04/02/202019/02/2020M3


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Access Training (East Midlands) Ltd21/01/202017/02/202022
NDA Foundation Limited24/01/202017/02/2020M3
People and Business Development Ltd14/01/202018/02/202043
Piper Training Limited07/01/202019/02/20204M
T3 Training & Development Ltd30/01/202019/02/2020MN/A


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Ashton Sixth Form College08/01/202018/02/20201N/A


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Adult and Community Learning Service, Isle of Wight Council29/01/202017/02/202023
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council04/02/202020/092/2022
Norfolk County Council Adult Learning28/01/202020/02/202022
The Wiltshire Council23/01/202020/02/202033


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The Chief Constable of Surrey30/01/202017/02/2020MN/A

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