Staff and students at a regional college group are delighted after Ofsted inspectors praised their ‘significant progress’ and thanked them for the difference they have made to the lives of students in Northumberland.
Ofsted inspectors visited Education Partnership North East, of which Northumberland College is a part, in December 2021. The inspectors evaluated the progress that leaders and managers have made since Northumberland College became part of the regional college group, an approach Ofsted takes with all merged colleges.
During Ofsted’s visit, inspectors paid particular attention to Northumberland College, although across the college group, they met with governors, college leaders, staff, students, parents, employers and community partners. As an outcome inspectors judged all areas as making ‘significant progress’, the highest performance judgment available.
For Northumberland College, inspectors specifically reported an improvement in the life experiences of students in Northumberland. Highlights of the Ofsted report include:
“Leaders and managers have successfully implemented the curriculum planning process used by the wider group. They have engaged fully with the county council, employers, students, parents and staff at the college to design a curriculum that now meets the requirements of employers, students and apprentices in Northumberland.”
“Leaders and managers have successfully implemented changes to programmes for students with high needs”. They have “constructed flexible programme for students, created an improved learning environment and employed experienced staff to support students to prepare for work experience.”
“Teachers set suitably challenging work for students with high needs on vocational programmes. They expect them to complete the same activities as their peers and provide a high level of support to enable students to do this.”
“Managers and teachers carefully plan a flexible curriculum to meet the needs of individual students”. And “teachers plan the curriculum skillfully”, whilst also providing “students with much improved learning environments which is conducive to learning.”
Ellen Thinnesen, CEO of Education Partnership North East said:
“We were delighted to welcome the inspectors from Ofsted and demonstrate the transformational journey our college group has been on and moeso, the positive impact staff have made. I am particularly thrilled for all of the staff at Northumberland College and those in group roles who have been through a lot of change through both of our mergers and the creation of our college group. In fact, I am extremely thankful for their commitment to making a real difference for students.
“We knew we had an amazing story to tell and were looking forward to our Ofsted visit and the opportunity to demonstrate our progress.
“Ofsted’s report and the rich feedback inspectors gave us during the visit, is fantastic recognition for the combined effort and dedication of everyone across the college group to ensure we are achieving our vision of excellence. Our staff continually go above and beyond for their students, and I am incredibly grateful for their willingness and dedication. From curriculum staff, to support function staff and my senior leadership team, every person has played a part in our success, and I know they are extremely proud.”
Since merging with Sunderland College in 2019, Northumberland College has experienced a dynamic phase of growth and transformation, which has secured its long-term future and created significant opportunities for its students and the local economy.
Post-merger, a new leadership team at Northumberland College and a new board of governors was created to enhance the college’s culture and introduce a new strategic vision. The college also implemented a robust new curriculum planning process, informed by employers and regional and local priorities. This has ensured that courses are career-focused, aligned to key economic sectors, support future growth and address regional skills gaps.
Education Partnership North East also ensured an extensive, multi-million-pound re-development programme at Northumberland College supported by the Department for Education. This has provided outstanding new facilities and investments, which support the development of higher-level technical skills and have transformed the college into a state-of-the-art, industry focused college for school leavers and adults in Northumberland.
Since [City of Sunderland College’s] mergers with Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, how well have governors, leaders and managers ensured that they secure and sustain improvements to the quality of education across all centres? – Significant progress
How successful have leaders’ actions been since [both] mergers in ensuring that the curriculum of the merged college meets the needs of students, employers and stakeholders, as well as being aligned to local and regional employment and skills priorities? – Significant progress
How successful have leaders and managers been in ensuring that students [specifically] at Northumberland College who have high needs are set challenging work on vocational courses to enable them to develop the skills that they need to prepare for adult life? – Significant progress
What progress have leaders and managers made in ensuring that students [specifially] at Northumberland College on education programmes for young people and apprenticeships attend their lessons often enough in English and mathematics and consequently make progress in these subjects? – Significant progress
Education Partnership North East is a multi-award-winning regional college group serving diverse urban and rural communities from the most Northern point of the Scottish Borders to the most Southern point of the Tees Valley. The college group comprises Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College.
We are the largest further education provider in Northumberland with campuses throughout the county.
Our student transport scheme is available for eligible students to make getting to and from college as easy as possible.
Our extensive re-development programme will create outstanding new facilities.
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