Ofsted watch: Two colleges improve to ‘good’ rating

Two FE colleges are celebrating Ofsted success this week after climbing from a grade 3 to a grade 2.

Burton and South Derbyshire College was ranked ‘good’ across the board after its inspection on September 26.

The report, published on October 20, commended the college for taking “extensive and effective steps” to improve provision, with the progress and achievement rates of learners increasing in a range of subjects including English and maths and a “significantly higher” proportion of learners and apprentices achieving their qualifications.

The college, which has two main campuses in Burton town centre and a dedicated construction academy in South Derbyshire, was also said to have strong employer partnerships which have helped to “reshape the curriculum”, while staff provide “highly effective additional support” for learners.

However, the report highlighted that there are not sufficient work-experience opportunities for learners with high needs at the college, and said too few apprentices achieve their English and maths qualifications within planned timescales.

It also said: “Most courses now match closely with employers’ specific skill requirements. Consequently, most learners develop their skills successfully and progress to employment or further learning.

“As a result of extensive support and development for teachers, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has improved rapidly and is now good in most areas.”

The Marine Society College of the Sea has also moved up the rankings from a grade 3 to being a grade 2 across the board.

The historical college, which was founded in 1756 to encourage men and boys to join the Navy ahead of the Seven Years War and now operates within the Marine Society and Sea Cadets, offers personal and professional development to seafarers and opportunities to gain a range of accredited qualifications.

During the inspection on September 28, Ofsted found that leaders and managers had “a very clear and well-considered strategy to support seafarers to improve their education and to progress in their careers.”

Staff were found to have taken effective actions to improve the quality of teaching, learning, assessment and outcomes, and were commended for supporting and monitoring the progress of learners .

The report, published on October 19, also commended staff at the Lambeth –based college for understanding “the complexities of learning and working at sea and give good advice to learners to help them choose suitable courses.

“As a result, the number of learners who remain on their programme has improved and is high.

“Learners have high aspirations, enjoy their learning and take pride in their work. They produce work of a good standard.”

The college was also congratulated for a well-designed curriculum, although Ofsted mentioned concerns that not enough was known about how many learners progress to higher levels of learning and staff did not regularly fellow up on recommendations about improving feedback on work.

Employer provider Capita PLC retained its grade two ranking in an inspection report published on October 20.

Ofsted said the company, which delivers apprenticeship programmes, traineeships and pre-employment programmes nationwide, had introduced a range of new apprenticeship standards and developed partnerships with large corporate clients in financial and public services, leading to high-quality work placements.

The inspection on September 12 found the personal development, welfare and behaviour of learners was outstanding, but gave the company a grade 3 for its traineeship provision with a warning that too few trainees progress to apprenticeships, employment or further learning.

However, Capita was commended for its high quality and effective training both on and off the job, with the majority of apprentices learning the required skills and achieving their qualifications within the planned time frame.

Finally, both Trafford College in Altrincham and Steadfast Training Ltd in Spalding retained their grade 2 during short inspections.

Trafford College, inspected on September 27, was found to provide “a good standard of teaching, learning and assessment” in a “welcoming and safe environment”, with an increase in the proportion of students receiving higher grades.

However, the report, published on October 18, warned that the provision of maths and English at the college still required improvement. 

Steadfast Training Ltd was inspected on September 27, with a report published on October 20. Ofsted found a focus on high-quality apprenticeships in health and social care had been maintained, with good links to local and regional businesses and good training and development for apprentices.

The report also commended Steadfast Training  for supporting underperforming staff to either improve or leave the company, and said the proportion of apprenticeships receiving their qualifications had risen significantly.

It added: “Current learners are making good progress, enjoy their learning and appreciate the good support they receive from their tutors and assessors .”

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Burton and South Derbyshire College 26-Sep-17 20-Oct-17 2 3
The Marine Society College of the Sea 28-Sep-17 19-Oct-17 2 3


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Capita PLC 12-Sep-17 20-Oct-17 2 2


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Steadfast Training Ltd 27-Sep-17 20-Oct-17
Trafford College 19-Sep-17 18-Oct-17

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