A college has been hit with its third ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in the space of just five years.

The latest report on Stockport College was published this morning.

It was found to be grade four overall and received the worst possible rating for effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; outcomes for learners, and 16-to-19 study programmes.

The report repeatedly warned that lessons had not been learned from the previous ‘inadequate’ inspection findings in November 2016.

“Leaders and governors have not reversed the decline in standards since the previous inspection,” it said.

They had also “not responded quickly enough to address all weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”.

Stockport College was said in the report to provide education and training for around 1,056 learners aged 16 to 18, as well as 1,776 adult learners, the large majority of whom are studying part time.

It was actually rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted back in 2008.

But the next inspection verdict was a devastating drop to ‘inadequate’, before an improvement to grade three in 2014, and the subsequent further two grade fours.

The latest report warned that “the financial status of the college is weak and the college remains in administered status”. 

It did recognise that “partnerships with local employers and key stakeholders are good”, and accepted that the board had been strengthened since the last report  and “governors have been recruited with a good range of skills and expertise to support the senior leadership team”.

But it warned: “The quality of teaching, learning and assessment remains inadequate. Achievement rates for learners on 16 to 19 study programmes declined further in 2016/17 and are inadequate. Leaders and managers have failed to ensure that the principles of study programmes are met.”

It added that although the new leadership team “has implemented changes, the rate of improvement in teaching, learning and assessment is too slow”.

“Although improved since the previous inspection, learners’ attendance remains too low,” it added. “Too few learners attend their lessons and too many are late, particularly to English and
mathematics lessons.”

It said that while leaders had been working to “secure a sustainable future for the college, the college finances remain inadequate”.

Stockport College announced plans last summer to merge with ‘good’ Ofsted rated Trafford College.

FE Week had previously revealed in February last year that plans to merge Tameside, Oldham and Stockport colleges had been called off after intervention from FE commissioner Richard Atkins.

That proposal had been made at the end of a troubled nine-month process riven by deep tensions between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the colleges involved.

Dr Mike Potter CBE, transition principal for the college, preferred to reflect on the positives from the latest report.

“Whilst naturally disappointed at the latest Ofsted inspection result after all the hard work that staff and governors have put in over the past sixteen months, and that the two previous Ofsted re-Inspection monitoring visit reports have noted that there has been reasonable progress in most areas identified for improvement, we recognise that there is still further work to be done,” he said.

“That said, we take some comfort from the positives in the detailed text of the report, and that more strengths, particularly around skills’ development, partnerships, and support for learners were evident to the Inspection team this time.”

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  1. Why do we keep funding failing colleges. If this was a private provider it would have had it’s contract removed after the first grade 4. This continued funding of inadequate provision does nothing for learners and makes a mockery of Ofsted inspection.

    A level playing field is still no where in sight.

  2. The issue here is not of continuing to fund – but not supporting – many colleges are suffering financially and this is impacting on quality – in this case the question must be how has 4 years of Ofsted and FE Commissioner intervention not had any impact ?

  3. I agree with NW we need to ask who is actually failing who in the FE and Skills sector. More and more colleges are having notices of financial concern and even when they maintain an Ofsted grade 2 (as Kirklees College) they have the intervention of the FE Commissioner and his team of advisers telling them what they already know. That is, the funding of FE and skills provision is actually inadequate across the whole provision. As a sector we are giving value for money because we are delivering good quality on a shoestring. I am not sure I could say the same for Ofsted when they send two inspectors to inspect 7 learners and give them a judgement of good. Does that judgement really carry the same weight as a provider who thousands of students? Is it good value of public finances? Are the FE Commissioner and his team of advisers worth their daily rates of pay of £600 per adviser and £750 per deputy commissioner. For 30 days work an FE Adviser is paid £18,000 and a deputy commissioner is paid £22.500. This is now bordering on obscene as their impact is certainly not bringing about improvement as highlighted by the recent Ofsted inspection of Stockport College.

  4. mark wild

    i studied at the college in the 90’s wasnt bad then ! but my boys are there and all i hear is issue after issue teachers not teaching just sitting on ipads and others struggling with work loads to try and get students to pass courses (i know that some students can be challenging and cause problems hats off to the teachers who try there best !) perhaps as mentioned above perhaps stockport waste to much money on seeking information on how to improve, surely the college employ staff who should be looking at this over the year and highlighting problems and implementing resolves or is it just a board who sit around a table and have a chat and brew and biscuits and then watch there bank account ? over the years i know personally the college has had a lot of good staff who fleed like rats and jumped ship so to speak so whats actually gone wrong ? theres been talk of knocking the college down and relocation of it perhaps theres more to the failings of the college than everyone is aware time will tell we need to be mindful of what happend a few years ago with stockport tech school which was given false hope from the start https://feweek.co.uk/2015/03/09/college-sponsored-school-shuts-after-just-two-years/

  5. Andy Watkins

    Unless the funding conditions change it will be bums on seats drag them through no matter if they have the ability or not. FE Colleges can’t make students attend. When they do attend if their behavior is unacceptable there isn’t a thing a teacher or lecturer can do. The disciplinary systems in fe colleges are worthless. The college doesn’t want to loose anyone, because that’s 5 K lost. The teaching staff are duty bound to get that student through no matter what their attendance or behavior is like. Once they sign up they are going to pass and if they don’t there’s a full blown equiry that often lands back on the staffs lap because “it’s your fault you signed them up”. “But you said we couldn’t turn them down!” “You said they’ve got a pulse so sign them up”.
    Then there’s the tax credit student. No job, so you will go to college because Mum will lose the tax credits if you don’t. Not interested at all in the course their on, but hey, that’s ok because I’ll pass anyway. Doesn’t matter about behavior or attendance, as long as the government know your on a college course, in come the tax credits.
    The whole system is stacked against the staff before they even get the new students in September.
    Let’s not forget the growing drug problem. Students high on weed and Cocaine, exclude them, certainly not, book them in with part time drug councilor who comes in once a week. They’ll be fine, after all you signed them up.
    Dont even think of challenging them about it, because they’ll put in a complaint and that’s 6 weeks suspension straight away. FE it’s a vocation……………