Ofsted watch: Grade 3 confirmed for London’s mega-college



One of the largest college group’s in England had its grade three from Ofsted confirmed, in what was otherwise a varied week for further education.

The result was for Capital City College Group’s first inspection since being formed from a merger of City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, and The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London – which were all previously rated ‘good’ – in 2017.

Inspectors found the merger had brought about a “degree of instability” in the leadership team, most notably at its Islington campus and in its management of apprentices.

Chief executive Roy O’Shaughnessy told FE Week in December he was trying to “dim the expectations” by self-grading as ‘requires improvement’ after the provider was surprised by a £10 million deficit in 2018/19.

But the watchdog did find “staff and governors have worked hard to manage the merger” and have established a “successful vision for the college”.

Learners, of which there are 25,000, “value their time at college, where staff encourage learners to widen their expectations and aspirations,” inspectors added.

Blackburn College, after receiving two ‘requires improvement’ grades in two years, was found to have made ‘reasonable progress’ in two areas of a monitoring visit.

New principal, Fazal Dad, has implemented “an effective programme of cultural change” with “an ethos of continuous improvement” now pervading the college, so a decline in the quality of education has been halted.

Haringey Sixth Form College was handed a grade three this week, dropping from a grade two. But inspectors found leaders “have been successful in re-establishing the college’s purpose and instilling enthusiasm in staff and students” after reconsidering the curriculum offer to ensure it meets young peoples’ needs.

Another grade three sixth form, Itchen College, had a better week after it was found to be making ‘significant progress’ in every area in a follow-up monitoring visit.

This is because leaders and managers have “continued to embed a culture of high expectations for staff and students” by ushering in changes to the management of the curriculum which have led to improvements in teaching practice and an uplift in students’ achievement.

Winstanley College was commended by Ofsted, as although it has dropped from a grade one awarded in 2007 to a two, it has “created a culture of high expectations” through the introduction of three non-negotiables for its 1,699 students: attendance, being on time to lessons and being ready to learn.

The Sixth Form College, Solihull bounced from a grade three to a two this week, with the report noting how the majority of the 1,958 students move into higher education and the college works with stakeholders, including universities, to provide learners with the opportunities to follow in-demand careers.

Brighton and Hove City Council achieved its fourth ‘good’ grade in a row for its adult and community learning provision, which is run by two subcontractors and two partner organisations.

An “ambitious curriculum” helps learners overcome barriers like low income, unemployment and mental illness.

Bristol City Council received the same result, and staff actively promote community cohesion by providing learners with volunteering opportunities at large events like a carnival.

Independent provider Skegness College of Vocational Training Limited has maintained its grade two. Inspectors reported most of the 96 learners gain the qualifications and develop the skills they need to find and sustain employment.

RHG Consult also fared well, making ‘significant progress’ in two areas of its early monitoring visit.

The 168 apprentices can “clearly explain” how their programme meets their career aspirations and know they lack the breadth of understanding to move on to the next management tier.

ECM Southwest was found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in all three areas of an early monitoring visit. Leaders cannot confirm the eight apprentices have received their full entitlement to off-the-job training as they have not developed effective processes to track it.

As for safeguarding, not all of ECM’s staff have undergone a disclosure and barring service check and leaders do not understand the requirement for apprentices and staff to receive ‘Prevent’ training.

Associated Neighbour Training Limited, Cambridge Marketing College, Code Nation Limited, Geason Apprenticeships Limited, Institution of Railway Operators Limited, The Association of Health Professions in Ophthalmology and Universal Skills Centre Ltd all made ‘reasonable progress’ in every area of an early monitoring visit.

Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Associated Neighbour Training Limited19/02/2002/03/20MN/A
Cambridge Marketing College6/2/2005/03/20MN/A
Code Nation Limited5/2/2002/03/20MN/A
ECM Southwest Limited5/2/2002/03/20MN/A
Geason Apprenticeships Limited12/2/2002/03/20MN/A
Institution of Railway Operators Limited19/01/2004/03/20MN/A
RHG Consult14/02/2005/03/20MN/A
Skegness College of Vocational Training Limited11/2/2002/03/2022
The Association of Health Professions in Ophthalmology19/2/204/3/20MN/A
Universal Skills Centre Ltd12/2/2002/03/20MN/A

GFE collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Blackburn College23/01/2002/03/20M3
Capital City College Group24/01/2003/03/203N/A

Sixth form colleges (incl. 16-19 academies)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Haringey Sixth Form College30/01/2005/03/2032
Itchen College12/02/2004/03/20M3
The Sixth Form College, Solihull11/2/2004/03/202M
Winstanley College03/02/2004/03/2021

Adult community learningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Brighton & Hove City Council12/02/2002/03/2022
Bristol City Council12/02/2002/03/2022


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One comment

  1. Jenny booth

    Funny that geason Apprenticeships is owned by the same people who sold the same named business to speedy plc who were then suspended on starts because of a poor monitoring visit. A real example of someone simply moving their starts to another provider- in this case the same business address, same team but a different organisation. A classic example of where ofsted grades have no impact at all – an expose for you at Fe week