Ofstedwatch: Contrasting fortunes for colleges

This week saw a reverse of fortunes for two colleges – with Ofsted dragging one down from ‘outstanding’ but boosting another two grades from ‘inadequate’.

Meanwhile, a good week for the independent sector saw Northern Care Training Limited made the leap from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’.

Blackburn College lost its ‘outstanding’ rating following an inspection in mid-March – almost ten years since its last visit – and is now deemed to ‘require improvement’.

In its first full inspection since November 2007 the college was hit with grade threes in all categories except apprenticeships and provision for learners with high needs, which remained ‘good’.

Leadership and management came under criticism because of a lack of “consistent improvement in students’ achievements” and a failure to effectively “set and monitor the impact of actions taken to improve the quality of provision”.

Particularly worrying was the finding that students and apprentices at the Lancashire-based provider “do not have sufficient knowledge on how the dangers of radicalisation and extremism can impact on their everyday lives”.

Meanwhile celebrations took place at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, which jumped from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ after its inspection in early March.

Ofsted handed out grade twos to the college in every category except apprenticeships, which still ‘requires improvement’.

The “persistent determination” of leaders, managers and governors to bring “long-term sustainability” was praised and said to have resulted in improvements to “the quality of provision, learners’ achievements and the financial position of the college”.

Performance management was found to be “rigorous” while the college’s partnerships were described as “excellent and well-considered”, putting it in a secure place for “significant business and community projects in the west London region”.

The inspectors said “extensive investment in improving teachers’ teaching and learning skills” had “directly led to improved teaching and learning” at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London, since its previous grade four report in October 2015.

Independent learning providers saw a success story this week, as Northern Care Training Limited improved from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’.

In its first Ofsted visit since October 2013 the County Durham provider scooped grade ones in every single category.

Inspectors reported that leaders, manager and training advisers at Northern Case Training “have very high ambitions” for the providers’ 1,017 learners and progress is “very good”.

The learners were said to be “highly motivated”, with most achieving functional skills qualifications in English and maths “at the first attempt”.

Apprentices were working “to high professional standards” and adult learners showed “excellent work-related skills”, while teachers and trainers were both “challenging and supportive”.

Another ILP received positive feedback from Ofsted this week in a short inspection that took place on April 11.

Clarkson Evans Training Limited remained ‘good’, as did Portsmouth College, which was visited for a short inspection on March 30.

And adult and community learning provider Roots and Shoots also maintained its grade two across the board, after a full inspection on March 7.

Roots and Shoots was originally set up in 1982 to help disadvantaged young people from Lambeth and Southwark to prepare for the world of work, and now offers study programmes aimed at young people aged 16 to 19 who have mild or moderate learning difficulties, are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have low prior educational attainment.

The vocational training is delivered in horticulture, retail, floristry and employability alongside functional skills qualifications in English and mathematics.
Senior leaders and managers at the London-based provider were praised for developing “an excellent range of activities that enrich the programme and help learners improve many aspects of their lives, including their health and understanding of the wider world”.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College 07/03/2017 02/05/2017 2 4
Blackburn College 14/03/2017 04/05/2017 3 1
Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Northern Care Training Limited 21/03/2017 04/05/2017 1 2
Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Roots and Shoots 07/03/2017 28/04/2017 2 2
Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published    
Clarkson Evans Training Limited 11/04/2017 02/05/2017    
Portsmouth College 30/03/2017 02/05/2017    

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