A new Ofsted report published today, February 24th, has judged that The Sheffield College requires improvement.
The report highlights a number of strengths at the College in meeting student and employers’ needs, as well as areas for improvement.
The vast majority of Sheffield College students successfully progress on to further study, higher education or employment. Provision for apprenticeships and high needs students, and careers advice and guidance, employer engagement and student behaviour are good.
However, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has been judged as not yet consistently good. There are inconsistencies, particularly in English and mathematics as a result of significant demand resulting from national government changes. Any 16 to 18-year-old student who has enrolled on a study programme at the College without GCSE grades A to C in English and mathematics must now take qualifications in those subjects. That has led to a three-fold increase in demand.
Paul Corcoran, Chief Executive, The Sheffield College, said: “The inspectors have recognised the many strengths of the College, not least our new vision and strategy which focuses entirely on Sheffield City Region’s needs. We are especially pleased with the assessment of apprenticeships and provision for learners with high needs, which are both rated as good. Also, we take great pride in the fact that the majority of our students successfully progress on to further study, higher education or employment.”
He added: “At the same time, we recognise improvements need to be made. 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.”
Ofsted has praised the College for providing a curriculum that matches the skills needs of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership priorities. The education watchdog also says that the ambition of senior leaders and governors is helping to drive forward the improvements needed.
Richard Wright, Chair of The Sheffield College Governing Body, and Executive Director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The College is committed to being inclusive. The College is recognised as being financially stable and that has required massive changes to the facilities and staff. I am really proud of what has been achieved despite the challenges.”
He added: “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.”
Inspectors have commended the quality of apprenticeships, and provision for students with high needs as being “highly effective” resulting in good progress.
Students, inspectors have noted, benefit from good information and guidance, and improve in self confidence. As a result, a high proportion of students progress successfully to further study, higher education or employment. And the majority are matched well to good quality work placements.
Inspectors also found that the majority of teachers and trainers are well qualified and use their extensive industrial and technical skills to develop the skills of students and apprentices. Staff provide extensive support for students who fall behind or have additional learning needs, particularly for the most vulnerable students.