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College celebrates ‘Good’ Ofsted result

Posted: 07 June 2023

Staff and students at West Nottinghamshire College are celebrating following the publication of its latest Ofsted inspection report – which has graded it ‘good’ with areas of outstanding provision, and that makes a strong contribution to meeting its area’s skills needs.

 Students and staff join principal Andrew Cropley (front, centre) in celebrating the college’s Ofsted result.
Students and staff join principal Andrew Cropley (front, centre) in celebrating the college’s Ofsted result.

Inspectors, who visited the college between Tuesday 28 and Friday 31 March, praised “the ambitious leadership team” for the impressive turnaround in the college’s culture, finances and quality, as well as citing a “caring, but ambitious culture where the vast majority of learners, including the most vulnerable, develop and flourish.”

Ofsted found the college to be good overall, with inspectors determining that both the personal development of students and provision for learners with high needs to be outstanding – the highest grade possible under the inspection regime. The quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, and leadership and management, were all found to be good, as were programmes for young people, adults and apprentices.

Inspectors concluded that students and apprentices enjoy their studies at the college and value the expertise, support and encouragement they receive from staff. They said “learners benefit from a broad range of high-quality opportunities that help them make a positive contribution to the community.”

Inspectors particularly praised the work the college does in preparing young people for their next steps, highlighting that they are “well prepared for the world of work through innovative, subject relevant learning companies” and “subsequently become more confident and skilled.”

In looking at all aspects of the college’s work including the behaviour and safety of students, inspectors concluded that expectations are well-understood, resulting in good behaviour being the ‘norm’. Students have “good attitudes to learning and are studious and attentive” and “feel safe at college because of the calm and welcoming environment.”

The report, published today (Wednesday 7 June 2023), highlights a number of key strengths, with leaders and governors praised for focussing the college’s “empowering culture” firmly on the needs of learners and the community, and having a “relentless drive to improve performance”. Inspectors also highlighted a well-planned and well-informed curriculum which helps students build knowledge over time, so that the majority achieve and move into positive destinations. Inspectors were impressed with the college’s “highly experienced governors” who have supported its transformation.

Provision for students with high needs came in for particular praise, especially the work that college leaders have done in building partnerships with the local authority to “ensure a highly appropriate and robust educational offer”. The report highlights the comprehensive planning that helps students with special educational needs and disabilities transition to college very well and which secures meaningful positive destinations.

Ofsted found that college students benefitted from a wide range of enrichment activities and a comprehensive careers programme of impartial advice and guidance which enables them to be “knowledgeable and confident about their next steps and options”.

Leaders were found to be “considerate and thoughtful in relation to staff well-being”, resulting in high levels of staff satisfaction.

Under the new inspection framework introduced in September 2022, colleges are now handed a separate sub-judgement for skills. This sub-judgement examines how well a college meets the skills needs of the communities it serves. In making an assessment, inspectors spoke to numerous local employers, and civic and education partners. The college now joins a small number of colleges nationally to be recognised for its strong contribution to skills – the highest judgement possible under this aspect of the inspection.

Inspectors praised the college for the role it plays in leading and driving skills development and raising aspirations in its local communities, as well as the number of “well-established partnerships with key stakeholders and employers”. Inspectors were particularly impressed with the college’s partnership with Nottingham Trent University and the impact this had had in bringing higher education to the local community.

Inspectors have asked the college to further improve planning for some apprentices’ on-and-off-the-job learning, further stabilise staffing within its electrical provision, and ensure that work set for all learners is suitably demanding and that assessment enables students to recall information.

Andrew Cropley, principal and chief executive, said: “No report could possibly do justice to the extraordinary achievements of our college over the last four years. I am privileged to lead a team of incredible people, who have seized the challenge to be the college that our communities need us to be and have delivered so brilliantly. 

“Every single member of the team in every part of our college should feel proud of the part they have played. I am hugely grateful to our governors, who have supported us and challenged us so thoughtfully every step of the way.

“We could not have achieved what we have without the fulsome engagement of our partners, be they local authorities and MPs, Nottingham Trent University, public sector employers or businesses. I hope they all take pride in their contribution to our story.  

“Our students were fabulous during the inspection. They continue to inspire us and, through their achievements, remind us why we do what we do. Of course, we still have scope to do even better and I’m looking forward to us continuing our journey, free from concerns about external judgement, to do our absolute best to help improve the prosperity of our communities, profitability and growth for local businesses, and the opportunities available to local people.”

Sean Lyons, chair of the college’s board of governors, said: “On behalf of the corporation board, I would like to offer sincere gratitude and congratulations to our staff and students for this well-deserved Ofsted rating. Everyone has worked so hard to improve the quality of teaching, learning and student experience over recent years and this inspection has reflected this.

“Equally importantly, this inspection has recognised the efforts the college has made to improve its connections with local employers and the community, which is so important in supporting the local economy and improving the life chances of all our students."

The full inspection report is available here.

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96.2% A Level pass rate in 2022.

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