Ofsted watch: Kendal College falls from grade one

This week brought disappointment for Kendal College, which lost its ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade and dropped down to ‘good’.

The small college, which serves around 2,610 learners and is located in the Lake District, was inspected in early June, around five years since Ofsted’s last visit.

It secured an ‘outstanding’ result for personal development, behaviour and welfare, but its apprenticeships provision was labelled ‘requires improvement’.

The education watchdog said in too many instances teachers were failing to “plan learning that takes into account learners’ and apprentices’ individual starting points,” which had a negative impact on measuring progress.

In a minority of qualifications, including English and maths, the outcomes achieved by learners and apprentices were said to “require improvement”, while leaders and managers needed to do more to “reverse the decline in the proportion of apprentices who achieve their qualification in the planned time”.

Positive feedback included the fact that “Managers have successfully cultivated highly effective partnerships, resulting in a curriculum that meets local and regional needs exceptionally well” and teachers and assessors were found to “provide excellent information, advice and guidance for learners and apprentices, preparing them exceptionally well for their next steps”.

Adult and community learning providers the Harington Scheme, in Highgate, had more success this week, jumping up from ‘requires improvement’ to a ‘good’ grade across the board.

The charity caters for people with learning difficulties or disabilities, behavioural difficulties or mental health needs by providing employability training, and currently has 45 learners.

Ofsted found the proportion of learners achieving their qualifications, including English and maths, had risen and was now “high in almost all subjects”, while work experience schemes were “highly effective and personalised”.

The curriculum designed by leaders, manager and trustees was “effective, personalised, flexible and interesting”, and learners had “good attitudes to learning and work”.

Areas to keep improving on were maths, which learners were making “slow progress” in, and a stronger focus on assisting learners with the most significant communication needs – who were found to require “better access to specialist support”.

Independent learning provider Advanced Personnel Management Group (UK) saw a reverse of fortunes compared to the Harington Scheme, falling from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

While adult learning programmes were still rates ‘good’ by Ofsted, all other areas of provision dropped to a level three after an inspection in June.

Focusing on the Birmingham-based provider’s delivery of study programmes, Ofsted acknowledged that the company had had a major restructure, with nine of the 10 training and assessment staff and managers employed in just the past 12 months. 

To improve the watchdog urged the provider to fully implement already planned changes, refine governance arrangements, improve the skills of tutors to ensure they challenge learners properly, and ensure all learners are provided with detailed information, advice and guidance.

North Yorkshire County Council also saw its grade fall from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ across the board this week, with suggested improvements including managers intervening more quickly to address non-attendance, and teachers and assessors setting more specific and challenging targets.

Sheffield City Council was also inspected for adult and community learning but retained its ‘good’ grade.

Local authority Essex county council had its second re-inspection monitoring visit after it was found to be inadequate for overall effectiveness, leadership and management, personal development, behaviour and welfare, and adult learning programmes in February.

Ofsted said the council had made progress in improving safeguarding, leaders’ self-assessment and the quality of performance information provided to county councillors. However, progress was insufficient in the observation of tutors’ practice and the overall quality of teaching learning and assessment.

Independent learning providers Mantra Learning Limited and Wiltshire Transport Training & Development Limited both received short inspections and continued to be rated ‘good’.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Kendal College 06/06/2017 11/07/2017 2 1
Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Advanced Personnel Management Group (UK) Limited 13/06/2017 10/07/2017 3 2
Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
North Yorkshire County Council 06/06/2017 12/07/2017 3 2
Harington Scheme Limited (The) 06/06/2017 10/07/2017 2 3
Essex County Council 06/06/2017 14/07/2017  M  M
Sheffield City Council 13/06/2017 14/07/2017  2  2
Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published    
Wiltshire Transport Training & Development Limited 20/06/2017 10/07/2017    
Mantra Learning Limited 07/06/2017 13/07/2017    

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