Welwyn Garden City and St Albans college told to improve
PUBLISHED: 11:09 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:55 22 June 2018
Ofsted inspectors have told a college that it needs to make improvements.
Oaklands College, which has campuses in WGC and St Albans, was given an overall grade of ‘requires improvement’ in an Ofsted report published this month.
The rating follows a grade of ‘good’ after short inspection in November 2015.
The inspector noted how too many of the students aged 16 to 18 have poor attendance records, are late and are unprepared to learn.
Ofsted inspectors warned the college, which teaches 5,150 students, that the quality of teaching, management, monitoring of learners’ progress and communication with the governors all need to improve.
During the inspection in April, inspectors highlighted that the college needs to “urgently” ensure that students understand how to keep themselves safe from the risks of radicalisation and extremism.
The inspector wrote: “Most teachers do not have high expectations of what study programme learners can achieve, and too many learners do not attend their lessons regularly.
“Too few teachers plan and provide teaching activities that motivate learners and develop their curiosity for learning.” Teachers were criticised for setting “insufficiently challenging” work for students taking English and Maths and as a result, too few students make the progress they are capable of.
The inspector added: “Teachers fail to review learners’ progress towards achieving these grades and too often learners are unaware of their progress.”
Students were pulled up by Ofsted for not bringing in pens and paper, and often using their phones “inappropriately” during lessons.
In relation to this, the inspector said that “too many” teachers fail to challenge students or promote the right attitudes to work.
However, some teachers were praised for their effective classes which have seen the disadvantaged or hard-to-reach, who were previously unemployed or sick, attend their courses and take up voluntary work or gain employment.
In fact, the college gained ‘outstanding’ in the category concerning the provision for learners with high needs.
While stating that most students and apprentices behave well, the inspectors were not impressed by the “inappropriate language” used around communal areas and students smoking in non-designated areas.
Governors also came under fire for not adequately challenging staff due to not having a “robust enough” understanding of the quality of provision.
The inspector praised “most” teachers for using a range of current issues and news items to promote equality and the celebration of diversity effectively.
Its safeguarding efforts were deemed “effective” due to additional policies and procedures which have been put in place, including drug testing for elite athletes, vetting of visiting speakers, as well as stop and search.
Over time, on study programmes, the number of students who achieve their qualifications has risen, but the inspector noted how achievement rates are still not high enough.
The college was graded ‘good’ for its adult learning programmes, which 1,560 students are enrolled in.
Its apprenticeships (450 aged 16 to 18 and 370 adult apprenticeships) were also graded ‘good’.
The inspector wrote: “Most apprentices develop high levels of practical work-related skills and they produce work to a good standard.”
After their courses, most apprentices remain with their employer with many progressing onto enhanced roles and positions at work.
Zoe Hancock, the principal and CEO of Oaklands Colleges, was appointed in 2011, two years after the college were graded ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2009.
In October 2011 Ofsted visited the college again for a short inspection and noted that it had made significant and reasonable progress since the 2009 report.
While former principal Mark Dawe was in charge, Ofsted gave the college a ‘satisfactory’ rating in its 2005 report.
Zoe Hancock said: “We are really pleased to receive an outstanding for our high needs provision and a good for our apprenticeship and adult offer.
“We are disappointed with the result for our study programmes and are already focusing on a strategy to deliver the improvements we need to ensure the best experience for all students.
“Over time, on study programmes, the number of students who achieve their qualifications has risen, but the inspector noted how achievement rates are not high enough on English and Maths, however this was not the case on vocational courses.”