Ofsted Watch: ‘Good’ tidings for FE providers before Christmas

Ofsted has delivered an early Christmas present to FE, with six providers climbing up the rankings including one college moving from grade four to grade two in the space of a year.

Hereward College of Further Education was deemed to be ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in October 2016, with particular concerns raised over the safeguarding of pupils. But the special education provider has now been officially rated ‘good’ across the board in a report published on December 20.

The regulator praised the work of leaders at the Coventry-based college, saying “swift and effective action” has been taken to improve safeguarding and remedy weaknesses including better teaching and lesson planning, successful internships and a range of support for the complex needs of learners.

Hereward’s principal and chief executive Paul Cook, who joined the college in August, praised the “huge efforts” of staff to improve both the experience and future prospects of learners and said the college was “proud” of its work.

He added: “We will continue to focus on preparing our learners for the next stage of their lives and provide them with outstanding employability skills and greater control over their own future.”

Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Birmingham also has an extra reason to celebrate this festive season after moving from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ in its latest Ofsted report.

The college received praise for the behaviour and enthusiasm of students, high quality teaching and lesson planning and support for students with special educational needs in the report published on December 21.

It added: “Leaders, managers and staff have successfully generated a culture of high aspiration, harmonious relationships and mutual respect that is highly evident throughout all aspects of the college.”

Four other providers made the step from grade three to grade two, with praise heaped on Macclesfield College, independent learning providers IPS International and Asphaleia and adult learning provider Appris.

Leaders at Macclesfield College were commended for creating a “culture of high expectation” and addressing areas for improvement, including forging “extensive links” with stakeholders and employers, impartial careers guidance and high quality work experience placements.

The report, published on December 21, warned that adult learning and 16-to-19 programmes could do with better teaching  and attendance,  but praised the behaviour of learners and the support given to them, particularly those with high needs or mental health difficulties.

Ofsted also found that “significant improvements” had been made at Asphaleia, which works in Worthing and Uxbridge with learners who have complex needs and have had disrupted educations, many of them being newly arrived unaccompanied asylum seekers.

The report praised staff for creating a “safe and supportive environment for learners, some of whom are particularly vulnerable” and for supporting learners to “realise their aspirations” with most progressing to FE colleges.

The findings, published on December 21, said more could be done to improve lesson planning and attendance, but praised leaders, managers and staff for having “high expectations” of learners and being “determined to support them to develop the skills needed to study further or gain employment.”

In another inspection report published on December 20, Ofsted congratulated leaders at IPS International for working with staff, employers and subcontractors to “bring about improvement”, with better outcomes for both developing skills and English and maths qualifications.

The Kent-based provider, with a training centres in Rochester and Dover, offers apprenticeships and adult learning programmes in a range of subjects including engineering, manufacturing, health and social care, accounts and information and digital technology.

Ofsted found its programmes “reflect employers’ and learners’ needs well” with learners and apprentices developing “very good vocational, technical and personal skills”.

The provider Appris also received praise for the high level of support and advice given to learners, and for helping them to develop practice skills “beyond those required for their qualification”.

Based in Bradford, the majority of Appris’ learners are apprentices studying engineering and manufacturing programmes, with a high proportion of those achieving within the planned timescales.

The report, published on December 19, said more could be done to improve English skills and learner understanding, but also commended the behaviour and attitudes of learners and their access to extra enrichment activities and qualifications to help them develop their careers.

In a full inspection published on December 21, City of Wolverhampton College retained its grade two rating, although was marked down as grade three for apprenticeship provision. In a report published the next day, Merton Adult Education in south London retained its ‘requires improvement’ rating, but was praised for “bold and effective steps” to restructure the service through a subcontracting arrangement with South Thames College which has “secured the long-term future of adult education for local residents”.

Retaining their grade two ratings after short inspections are Boston College, Wyke Sixth Form College, GHQ Training Limited, Hartlepool Borough Council and Humberside Training Engineering Association.

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