Ofsted inspectors tell The Sheffield College it must improve

The Sheffield College City campus
The Sheffield College City campus
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Sheffield’s biggest college has been warned it must improve the way it teaches its 18,000 students.

The Sheffield College – which has four campuses across the city – has been branded ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted inspectors.

Paul Corcoran, Chief Executive, The Sheffield College

Paul Corcoran, Chief Executive, The Sheffield College

Inspectors identified failings in leadership, teaching, attainment, personal development and both 16 to 19 and adult study programmes.

Results in English and maths were of particular concern – but they said apprenticeships and provision for students with ‘high needs’ was good.

Inspectors also criticised the quality of teaching and said teachers provided ‘insufficient challenge’ for students to make the required progress.

They said teachers did not rigorously monitor students’ progress, and teaching in English and maths lessons failed to ‘interest or motivate’ students.

Pupils’ attendance was low, with English and maths again a problem.

But inspectors found a high number of students progressed successfully to further study, higher education or employment.

The number of students who achieved their qualifications fell last year, but the proportion of apprentices who completed their programmes was high.

College chief executive Paul Corcoran acknowledged there was work to do.

He said: “Our teaching, learning and assessment are not yet consistently good across the college and we need to address that inconsistency by building upon the good practice that already exists within the college.

“This is especially true in the areas of English and mathematics, and success rates need to improve from last year.

“English and mathematics provision and success rates are an education sector-wide challenge, but we recognise that we can be and must be part of the solution for our local community. Improvement initiatives are already underway.”

After their visit in January inspectors said college management had not improved all areas of under performance raised at the last inspection in March 2010. They said ‘over-optimistic’ judgements of progress had been made.

However, they said a new strategic vision was ‘successfully driving the college improvement agenda forward’.

The college’s ‘range of high-quality partnerships’ with city organisations was also praised.

Chairman of the college’s governing body Richard Wright said: “What comes through strongly in the report is that we are making real progress in the areas that matter to employers and students.

“We’ve got real praise for standards in areas such as health and dentistry, creative arts, digital and engineering apprenticeships, which we know are important to the regional strategic plan. Our fantastic partnerships with many employers reflect that.

“We will never turn away any student whom we can help because we would be a worse city if we did. English and mathematics are a challenge. The recent requirement reflects the call by employers for new employees to have better numeracy and literacy, which we understand.”

The college has about 18,000 students across its City, Hillsborough, Peaks and Olive Grove campuses studying full and part-time.

The college offers Students are studying for apprenticeships, A-levels, degree level qualifications and on part-time training to help people get in to work, and professional courses for people in work and delivers training packages for employers.