‘Outstanding’ inspection leaves SEND college buzzing

Principal said investing in teaching and support staff was 'paramount' to their success

Principal said investing in teaching and support staff was 'paramount' to their success

15 Dec 2023, 14:41

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A specialist college in Birmingham is “elated and overwhelmed” following a sweep of top inspection grades from Ofsted.

The education watchdog rated The Hive College ‘outstanding’ today in all areas following a two-day full inspection in November. 

College leaders were praised for “detailed processes for quality assurance” which inspectors said allows learners to “progress swiftly” and “achieve their best”.

Learners achieve “significantly beyond” their target outcomes set out in education, health and care plans (EHCPs), helped by ongoing assessments that teachers use to adjust learners’ programmes to make sure they are “consistently demanding”. 

Kim Everton, executive principal of The Hive College, told FE Week the college was “confident going into the inspection, but you always have that bit of self-doubt”.

“We were elated, overwhelmed and unbelievably proud to hear from the inspectors that what we do at the Hive is outstanding,” she said.

Progression to employment, apprenticeships and independent living is backed up by an “extensive” post-college support package so the college can continue to support learners once they’ve completed their studies.

High-needs students are “well prepared” for adulthood, according to the report, thanks to the college’s partnerships with employers, who in turn benefit from free disability awareness training enabling them to provide internships. 

The college had 120 learners with special educational needs an/or disabilities at the time of the inspection, all aged over 18 years old.

It offers three programmes for students depending on their needs and aspirations: an employment focussed “Live @ The Hive,” volunteering focussed “Thrive @ The Hive” and an individualised course “Strive @ The Hive”.

Everton advises fellow specialist college leaders to “make sure that all decisions regarding the curriculum are based on what is best for the learners”.

“Investment in the quality of education was paramount to outcome. We have invested in recruiting exceptional teachers and support staff and in providing continual professional development,” she added.

Teachers were praised for the ways they support learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities to fully engage in their education, self-regulate their behaviours and develop new skills.

“As a result, learners make extensive progress in developing their confidence and speaking skills, and they progress from being unable to express themselves confidently to delivering presentations and making videos, highlighting issues people with disabilities face when shopping,” the report said.

The education watchdog also highlighted “significant” levels of challenge provided by the college’s “well-balanced” board of trustees in scrutinising subjects like changes to the curriculum and concerns around attendance linked to travel.

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