Gateshead College has been praised as a national example of best practice in Ofsted’s annual report, bucking the trend in a challenged FE sector.
In his fourth annual report for Ofsted, HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw outlined the problems facing colleges but recognised the outstanding efforts of some, including Gateshead College, which was the only college in the North East to be included.
The report placed emphasis on the importance of leadership, stating that “All our evidence shows that it is good leadership – and particularly good leadership of teaching and learning – that makes the big difference to school and college standards.” Gateshead College was highly praised, citing that when Ofsted inspectors visited Gateshead College in June, they saw: “A dynamic and inspirational principal, ably supported by a highly skilled senior team and governors, has successfully developed and delivered a clear and ambitious vision for learners that had led to significant improvements throughout the college.”
This is a strong endorsement when Ofsted found just 44pc of the leadership in general FE colleges to be good or outstanding, a big 19pc points lower than last year.
The impressive recognition for excellent leadership also resulted in Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College being shortlisted for the North East Business Executive of the Year 2015, further recognising the high calibre of management at the college.
In the annual report, Sir Michael Wilshaw also expressed concerns around apprenticeship provision, stating: “The quality of apprenticeships is another serious concern with almost half of the programmes this year judged less than good. Schools are not promoting apprenticeships widely as an option for all pupils, but this will not change until their quality improves.”
Again this is an area where Gateshead College is bucking the trend with a reputation for delivering high quality apprenticeships and having excellent links with businesses. It was recognised for its strong partnerships with regional employers such as Vantec and Nissan UK and organisations like the NHS, with Ofsted citing outstanding employability skills among learners, giving them the ‘employment edge’ in a difficult North East jobs market.
Gateshead College has been recognised for taking a fresh approach to providing careers advice to young people to ensure that they are fully equipped to make the right choices, introducing Careers Choice events and working more closely with schools to make sure that clear and unbiased advice is readily available.
Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, said: “I am very proud of this national recognition by Ofsted of the outstanding efforts of my management team and teaching staff. We have a clear vision and plan of action. Our outstanding results have been made possible because we have shaped the curriculum to meet the needs of the local employment market.
“We are one of only two FE colleges to be recognised as outstanding this academic year. The college is exceeding national targets for its performance, with a success rate cited as ‘exceptionally high for all learners’ at 8.2% above the national average. Apprentices are consistently 10% above the national benchmark for their achievements on their programme and the college is amongst the top providers in England for a third year in a row.
“I’m passionate about making sure that young people and adult learners are provided with highest quality of education and that businesses have access to a workforce with the employment skills they need. We deliver more than 2000 apprenticeships each year to over 450 employers across a wide range of sectors, including construction, engineering, hospitality, logistics, automotive and hair and beauty.
“There are some fantastic apprenticeship opportunities open to those who want to fulfil their career ambitions. Worryingly few school leavers seem to be advised appropriately about the options available and so are not suitably informed to make such an important decision about their future. The Ofsted findings about poor or patchy careers advice for young people is reflected in our own research. Schools and colleges need to work together more closely and this is something that we’re committed to making sure happens.”
For full Ofsted report: