That is the verdict of Ofsted inspectors, who found students liked the friendly support from teachers, the excellent facilities and the financial support and free transport offered by Bishop Auckland College.
Good provision in literacy and numeracy is increasing students’ employability skills, aided by the development of good social and personal skills and punctuality, inspectors found.
Employers who work with the college praised good communication, the quick response to any queries, staff expertise, knowledge and professionalism, regular visits to the workplace and the help and advice provided.
The team of nine inspectors, led by Josephine Nowacki, carried out a five day visit in late November and their report was published today by Ofsted.
It concluded: “The Principal provides strong and energetic leadership and, together with senior managers and governors, has created a culture that is raising expectations among staff and students. A clear vision and strategic direction is clearly communicated and understood by all staff. ”
The report continued: “Through strong leadership, the governors, Principal and senior managers have transformed the college into one where expectations are high. Success rates have improved for nearly all
It added: “The college has focused relentlessly on improving the quality of teaching and learning. Much teaching is now good or better and this is impacting positively on student outcomes. Learners enjoy college and the majority make good progress...students get on well together and a culture of respect and tolerance permeates the college.”
Other findings included:
Pass rates are high or very high in the majority of subject areas.
Outcomes are good and improving quickly for the majority of students.
The overall success rate is high and the rate of improvement is faster than the national average.
Success rates for students on short courses and Train to Gain courses are consistently outstanding.
The standard of students’ work is good.
Extensive provision in community venues meets the needs of adult students in rural and isolated communities very successfully.
Financial management is strong.
The college, which has a £32m main campus in Bishop Auckland, an £8m construction and apprenticeship centre in Spennymoor and community learning centres in Crook, Newton Aycliffe and Teesdale, has around 8,750 students.
Long and short courses are offered in subject areas including construction & engineering, art & design, catering & hospitality, childcare & education, sport, computing, health & social care, music technology, performing arts, travel & tourism and uniformed services.
Students include 14-16 year olds on part time courses, sixth formers on full time courses, apprentices and adult learners.
Ofsted awarded the college a Grade 2 overall including teaching and learning, leadership and management and for overall success rates, the second highest of four possible grades where 1 is outstanding;
The inspectors highlighted areas for further improvement which included:
Ensure that the rate of improvement, particularly in retention, is accelerated and sustained in all areas of provision.
Improve attendance by devising more robust ways of recording and monitoring.
Ensure all lessons include activities that stretch and challenge the abilities of all students.
Improve links with employers to increase the work-based learning provision and to improve students’ opportunities to gain work experience and improve their job prospects.
Principal Anne Isherwood said: “This is an extremely positive report which highlights and praises the quality of the whole learning experience at Bishop Auckland College. Both staff and governors are really pleased with the supportive feedback from students and employers, as well as the Ofsted inspection team. It has given us a great start to 2012, a year in which we will be working hard to further improve our service to the community of south west Durham.”
Brian Allen, Chair of the College Corporation, added: “This is excellent news for the college, its learners, staff and governors. Everyone associated with the college should be delighted with this inspection result, which recognises the commitment and dedication of staff, and be assured that we are determined to continue improving the learning experience.”
The full report can be viewed on the Ofsted website at:
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