Hartlepool Sixth Form College branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors

A COLLEGE has been found to be inadequate in its latest inspection by a Government watchdog.

Hartlepool Sixth Form College was judged to be inadequate – the lowest rating – despite being graded as good by Ofsted when its chiefs last visited four years ago.

Now it has been told it needs to take a raft of actions to ensure its students meet their potential.

While bosses say they are disappointed at the outcome, its newly-appointed leaders are clear on where the college needs to go better and has plans in place.

Among the issues highlighted in the Further Education and Skills Inspection Report, inspectors say too few students stay and complete their AS-level courses or move on to A-levels, which means it has low success rates that have remained static for the last four years.

The majority failed to make good enough progress, so only a few gained the high grades they are capable of and are unable to move on to the next stage of their careers and also means a minority have to repeat their courses, often several times.

It also states teaching, learning and assessment are not consistently good enough and more able students are not challenged enough.

Insufficient attention is given to developing maths and a minority pass the subject’s exams or gain high grades at GCSEs.

Careers advice lacks impartiality, so a significant minority are put on courses which do not meet their needs or aspirations.

In the past, its leaders and managers have not focused on assurance and governance, so improvement plans have not had an impact on students.

However, the report also sets out a series of its strengths.

These include how most of its vocational students complete their studies and are prepared for the next stage of their education, the ambition of its new senior managers has “created a positive culture” which is driving improvements and a new curriculum is focused on local and regional priorities.

Among the recommendations listed are efforts to identify why students leave before completing courses and identify those at risk of leaving through monitoring progress.

It has also been told to improve teaching, the quality of assessments, careers service and learning in maths.

A college spokesman said: “After two years of leadership and management instability, the new senior leadership team took up their posts at the beginning of September.

“The Ofsted inspection took place in the first four weeks of the new team taking up their posts.

“While the overall inspection outcome is extremely disappointing for the college, the new team are very clear about the improvements that need to be introduced, to ensure students achieve their qualifications at the appropriate level.

“Ofsted have every confidence in the new team, as can be seen in the report, their concern was that there had been insufficient time to see ‘sustained’ impact of the changes introduced.”