Preston’s College sees standards fall in most recent Ofsted inspection

Posted on - 17th January, 2017 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Preston News, Schools
Entrance to Preston's College in St Vincents Road in Fulwood

Entrance to Preston’s College in St Vincents Road in Fulwood

One of Preston’s largest education institutions is under pressure after slipping back in its most recent inspection.

Preston’s College has been rated as ‘requiring improvement’ across the board by education watchdog Ofsted.

A previous inspection in 2013 rated the school as ‘good’ overall and ‘outstanding’ in some areas, but the inspectors have identified a drop in standards.

Led by leader inspector Anita Pyrkotsch the 10-strong team looked at various aspects of education at the Fulwood-based college in St Vincent’s Road.

Concerns were raised about the ‘quality of teaching’, a lack of ‘effective management’ and too many learners ‘failing to attend English and mathematics classes’, in the 15-page report published on Thursday (12 January).

Ofsted also said achievement rates in construction and engineer apprenticeships were low, an area the college has been pushing hard.

Read more: Preston’s College opens job centre near Winckley Square

It also criticised senior management, saying ‘leaders and managers have been too slow to identify and resolve the decline in learners’ achievements in 2014/15′.

The College, led by principal Dr Lis Smith who joined in 2011, has nearly 10,000 students enrolled between the ages of 16 and 19. Nearly a quarter of its students are from the most deprived areas of Preston.

Maggie Philbin cuts the ribbon with Lis Smith from Preston's College

Lis Smith, right, is the principal of Preston’s College

Ofsted inspectors go on to say the most able learners a the college are ‘not sufficiently challenged in their learnings’, leading to lower grades being achieved.

It also points to discipline at the college being lax, with many learners not attending lessons or arriving late.

What does Preston’s College need to do to improve?

Inspectors have listed four key areas for improvement:

– Ensuring all 16 to 19-year-olds attend all lessons and teachers plan lessons carefully
– Ensure closer monitoring of the quality of teaching
– Improve achievements among its construction and engineering apprentices
– Improved the college’s tracking system to identify learners making slow progress

Read more: New technology building opened at Preston’s College

The College lists its previous Ofsted inspection on its marketing material

The College lists its previous Ofsted inspection on its marketing material

What’s going well

Despite slipping back compared to 2013’s inspection there were four areas the college performed well:

– There was a good relationship between teachers and pupils, with high levels of mutual respect and tolerance
– Managers and staff are collaborating well with employers to develop the curriculum
– Most students are participating in enrichment activities to enable them to have good work-related skills
– Governors are now providing more effective challenge and support to leaders and senior managers and have set a challenging vision for the college’s future

What the college says in response

Principal and chief executive of Preston’s College Lis Smith said: “While we are disappointed not to have retained or improved on our previous grade 2 rating, the College has been working hard to improve on a dip in 2014/15 data identified by Ofsted.

“Changing the College’s course design for some programmes, and how we provide student support, has resulted in significant improvements to learner results in 2015/16, which are also showing continued improvement in the current academic year.

“Since the inspection framework changed in 2015, some 13 FE colleges in the North West have been inspected with almost 70% seeing a reduced Ofsted rating. This shows how markedly different the inspection now is and that Ofsted are looking for different types of measures compared to previous inspection styles.

“All of our main areas of activity continue to have results above national averages, some well above, and we had already identified a number of key areas that we wanted to improve. As a result, we are confident that the changes put in place over the last two years will mean that the College will soon be rated a ‘good’ provider once again.

“Prior to Ofsted’s visit, the College has also undergone a management restructure to help improve our core teaching, learning and quality to maintain a consistently high standard across provision and quality assurance.

“Already we have enhanced our work with industry to provide suitable work experience placements that will challenge our more able learners. We have also invested in a skills hub, specialist staff and a reward scheme to see an uplift in maths and English attainment, which is a significant challenge for Colleges throughout the country.

“For example, 95% of apprentices in Construction gain employment or continue onto further education while 94% progress in Engineering. The improvements made to English and maths will add to our apprentices’ very high achievement rate in the technical aspect of their qualification.

“We were pleased that inspectors highlighted many of our strengths including the way in which we develop real work skills, the exemplary behaviour of our learners, our links with employers and the strategic vision of the College to ‘create THE most employable learners’.

“Preston’s College will continue to work with Ofsted to identify and implement change, but it is important to us that we continue to provide learners and employers with the skills and knowledge that really make a difference to them.”

You can read the full Ofsted report on the education inspection website.

Do you work or study at the college? What do you think of the inspection report? Let us know in the comments below

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