West Kent & Ashford College is on the next stage of its transformative journey, as its recent Ofsted report saw it achieve Grade 2 ‘Good’ ratings in six out of the eight assessment areas.
Building on the notable improvements at the college’s last inspection in March 2017, Grade 2 ’Good’ ratings were awarded to the Quality of teaching, learning and assessment, Effectiveness of leadership and management, Personal development, behaviour and welfare and 16-19 study programmes. Also singled out for praise were the college’s Adult learning programmes and Provision for learners with high needs, both also achieving a Grade 2.
The Ofsted Inspection Team visited the College between the 2nd-5th October, witnessing first-hand how the Hadlow Group has effected a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of the college. Both the Governors and Senior Management Team of the College welcomed Ofsted’s recognition of these improvements, but expressed confusion with the overall grade of Requires Improvement, especially since the majority of grades were Good. This has given the college a highly unusual grade profile, unprecedented within Further Education.
The report notes the progress made to effect change within the college, stating: “governors, leaders and managers have changed the culture of the college, which has enabled them to improve teaching, learning and assessment through collaboration, training and teamwork.” Elsewhere, it summarised that “leaders, managers and teachers have high expectations of, and aspirations for, their students and apprentices. They have established a culture of high-quality teaching and learning, respect and tolerance that teachers support fully. This culture manifests itself in the way students and apprentices now approach their studies and work hard to achieve their career goals.”
The report highlights the many opportunities given to students to work with employers, saying this helped them “develop effective work-related skills” and “gain valuable insight and knowledge of the industry in which they are placed.” It goes on to praise the “high quality classrooms, workshops and resources”, with teaching staff using these effectively to ensure students take very active practical roles – for example, as desk engineers in the college’s state-of-the-art recording studio.
One area that was judged as requiring improvement was Outcomes for Learners – a frustrating judgement for the college, in light of October’s announcement by Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, which proposed less focus on headline data and reducing the weight on outcomes for students in inspections from September 2019. Spielman’s announcement was welcomed by the college, which backs the notion that performance data should not come at the expense of quality teaching and learning.
Other highlights in the report include:
- Leaders have worked very effectively to re-establish links with the local and regional business community. Employers who work with the college now value their links with the college’s staff and support them with student work experience placements, by training apprentices and by offering advice and guidance on curriculum developments.
- Leaders and managers have worked very effectively to improve the reputation of the college with the local communities around both main sites. As a result, an increasing number of students are now studying at the college after several years of declining numbers.
- Most students benefit from impartial careers advice and guidance which is accessible and inclusive. As a result, students make informed choices about their next steps into higher education, apprenticeships or further education and training.
- Staff responsible for safeguarding are tenacious in their investigation of safeguarding concerns and they give excellent support to students in need
- Most students produce work of a high standard because teachers have high expectations of them.
- Most current adult students, students aged 16 to 18, and students with high needs are making good progress in extending their skills, knowledge and understanding.
Lindsay Pamphilon, Group Vice Principal for Quality, Standards and Performance, said: “The college is delighted that teaching, learning and assessment is now judged to be good at West Kent and Ashford college, confirming the quality of experience that students receive whilst studying here. It is rewarding that the vast majority of our programmes – for 16-19 year olds, adults and students with additional needs – have been recognised as being Good.”
The full report can be viewed here.
For press information, contact: Philip Orrell, Hadlow Group PR and Media Manager, Tel: 01732 372794, firstname.lastname@example.org