The Sheffield College 'taking swift action' after Ofsted demands improvement

The Sheffield College has around 16,000 students
The Sheffield College has around 16,000 students
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The Sheffield College insists 'swift action' is being taken to improve after Ofsted inspectors again found it wanting.

The further education college, which has around 16,000 students, was rated 'requires improvement' - the second lowest of four possible grades - for the second time running.

Angela Foulkes, principal and acting chief executive at The Sheffield College

Angela Foulkes, principal and acting chief executive at The Sheffield College

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The latest report, published today by the education watchdog, finds the establishment 'requires improvement' in six of eight criteria on which it was assessed, with only its apprenticeships and provision for learners with high needs judged to be 'good'.

The college was also rated 'requires improvement' when it was last inspected in 2016, having been deemed 'good' in 2013.

Angela Foulkes, principal and acting chief executive at the college, said: "Ensuring students have a consistently good learning experience so they can fulfil their potential is my top priority. We are not complacent. The college is taking swift action with a comprehensive plan to address the points raised by Ofsted.

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"We are pleased that Ofsted has acknowledged the college's strengths including apprenticeships, high needs provision, employer partnerships, careers guidance and effective safeguarding. Our students feel safe and their behaviour is positive and respectful."

Inspectors, who visited the college in January, found that too few students are achieving their qualifications, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is 'not consistently good' and attendance is too low.

They also ruled that those in power had taken 'insufficient action' to address weaknesses identified when it was last inspected.

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But they did recognise that the recently-changed senior leadership team and governing body had a 'strong understanding' of the college's strengths and shortcomings, and were 'beginning to take actions to tackle weaknesses'.

They also praised the progress made by the majority of apprentices, and said most students and apprentices move on to further and higher education or employment after finishing their courses.

"Governors, senior leaders and managers have been slow to address many of the weaknesses identified at the previous inspection," the report states.

"Following recent changes to personnel in the governing body and senior leadership team, they now have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the college."

The report calls on the college to 'accelerate the pace' at which it tackles weaknesses, to improve attendance 'rapidly' and to ensure teachers pay close attention to students' individual needs when planning lessons.

It also advises the college to ensure students and apprentices are 'fully aware of how to keep themselves safe from the risks posed by radicalisation and extremism'.

Richard Wright stepped down as chairman of the college's governing body in January, just two months after its chief executive Paul Corcoran resigned with immediate effect.

Their departures followed the announcement last year of a major shake-up to reduce the number of leadership and administrative roles, freeing up money to spend on teaching.

The college runs full and part-time academic, vocational and professional courses for young people and adults, offering A-levels, apprenticeships and degrees.

It has campuses in the city centre, off Granville Road, and at Hillsborough, Olive Grove and Peaks in Waterthorpe.

The college's chair of governors, Seb Schmoller, said: "The governors are proud of what we do well, not least our work with employers and the way we are meeting local skills needs.

"But we are absolutely determined to support Angela Foulkes and the staff of the college to improve things quickly in the areas where Ofsted has rightly said we need to do better.

"Our students and the communities we serve deserve nothing less than this."

* You can read the full report at https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/130531.