Ofsted Watch: So close yet so far for grade three college

A college in Hertford will be kicking itself this week after Ofsted praised it for “much improvement” since its last inspection, but not enough to boost it up to a grade two.

Hertford Regional College received ‘requires improvement’ ratings across the board in 2016.

Ofsted went back in for a full re-inspection two months ago and gave it ‘good’ ratings in four of the eight headline fields, including for apprenticeships.

But “despite much improvement since the previous inspection, not enough teaching is good,” inspectors said, who subsequently gave it an overall grade three again.

Ofsted praised the college’s leadership which has “strengthened since the previous inspection”, and as a result, managers have “comprehensive knowledge of the progress of current learners, which they use effectively to improve provision”.

Inspectors added that leaders now implement “robust performance management and quality assurance processes” that are “ensuring that underperforming areas are improving quickly”.

Most apprentices at the college “improve their technical skills, make good progress in their job roles and are valued highly for their contribution to their employers’ businesses”.

However, “too many teachers do not expect enough from learners; target-setting is not ambitious enough and learning activities do not challenge learners to excel.

“Not enough learners following study programmes make good progress from their starting points, and achieve as well as they could, although results are improving.”

And although leaders “ensure that the majority of learners” attend their lessons regularly, “too many do not”.

To make that jump to a grade two, the college needs to continue to “improve teaching, learning and assessment so all learners benefit from a high-quality experience during their time at college”.

Meanwhile, another independent training provider received an early apprenticeship monitoring visit this week which resulted in a positive report.

Quest Vocational Training Ltd, which was formed in 2012 and is based in Dorset, was found to be making reasonable progress in all three themed areas.

The inspection was undertaken as part of a series of monitoring visits that are taking place with a sample of new apprenticeship training providers directly funded through the apprenticeship levy.

Directors and senior managers have “ambitious and clear plans to become a high-quality provider to the health and social care sector,” inspectors said.

“They are increasing the number of apprentices on the prime contract as part of a sustainable strategic plan to meet the requirements of a range of different employers in this sector.”

Almost all apprentices interviewed during the monitoring visit said they receive “appropriate time and support from their employers to complete off-the-job training at work”.

And all employers interviewed were “clear about how their apprentices have improved their skills and behaviours as a result of undertaking their apprenticeship”.

Ofsted also noted that senior managers ensure that safeguarding arrangements are “effective”.

The only other Ofsted report to be published for the FE sector this week was a short inspection for Cheshire West and Chester Council, which retained its ‘good’ rating.


GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Hertford Regional College13/03/201808/05/201833


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Quest Vocational Training Limited18/04/201811/05/2018MM


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Cheshire West and Chester Council07/03/201810/05/2018

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