Suffolk: Suffolk New College rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted inspectors

Josh Merritt, outgoing President of the Students Union at Suffolk New College Josh Merritt, outgoing President of the Students Union at Suffolk New College

Monday, June 30, 2014
11:20 AM

One of Suffolk’s biggest further education colleges has been rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.

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Suffolk New College was inspected by the education watchdog in May, resulting in a downgrade from its ‘Good’ rating received in December 2009.

Inspectors said the proportion of students at the college achieving their main qualification in the last academic year remained below the national rate for similar colleges, and the proportion achieving functional skills in English and maths is low.

College Principal Professor Dave Muller said he was “disappointed” by the judgements and that 95% of pupils who achieved their main qualification went on to employment or more education.

Suffolk New College was rated ‘requires improvement’ in all three categories of the Ofsted report: outcomes for learners, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and effectiveness of leadership and management.

Of the seven subject areas graded by inspectors, engineering, motor vehicle studies, foundation English, foundation mathematics, and business were rated ‘required improvement’ while building and construction and hospitality and catering were rated ‘good’.

“In the majority of subject areas,” the report said, “students’ achievement rates require improvement.”

Students on A-level courses make expected progress, however a “high proportion of AS-level students do not complete their course”.

The report added: “The proportion of students achieving their main qualifications requires improvement. It rose sharply from a low point two years ago, but then remained static last year at a little below the national rate for similar colleges.

“Too many students do not successfully complete functional skills in English and mathematics.”

Inspectors found the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to have improved over the last two years but added that, “a significant minority of teaching still requires improvement, including at subcontracted provision.”

Leadership and management were criticised for failing “to meet a number of key targets regarding outcomes for students in 2012/2013.” However the report added that “the senior leadership team took swift action to identify the reasons and make changes to management and staff in a number of subject areas.”

The behaviour of students at Suffolk New College was praised and the report said that managers “match the range of courses particularly effectively to the skills priorities of the local economy and to the needs of the community.”

Professor Dave Muller said: “We are disappointed by some of Ofsted’s judgements which we believe do not fully reflect the work we do.

“A key outcome is that for the past three years 95% of our students gaining a main qualification have either secured employment or have continued their study in further or higher education.”

He added: “The inspection gave considerable emphasis to both Maths and English which we recognise need further development. We are pleased in the current year over 300 students have gained a GCSE equivalent qualification in maths and a similar number in English. We will work with Ofsted to improve these further.”

Student Union President Josh Merritt said: “I feel that the students are listened to here and that we are encouraged to have a say. As a result, we do feel valued.

“Staff and students are working together to achieve some excellent qualifications and that is what matters. We also enjoy fantastic facilities in a location close to the Waterfront and town centre – it is a great place in which to study.”

5 comments

  • The full report can be viewed on the OfSTED website. This college needs to "pull its socks up". The 95% of students going on to employment or another course seems to have been plucked out of thin air. If this were a football club fans would be clamouring for a change of manager.

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    BigGeoff

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Poor outcomes seem endemic in Suffolk education establishments. Clearly to do with those at the top of the tree rather than elsewhere. Its time for a root and branch review starting with SCC councilors and their education dept.

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    amsterdam81

    Monday, June 30, 2014

  • Scrap the University ambitions along with the waterfront... A "good" rating is merely satisfactory - dropping below that is awful. Just goes to show pulling down Suffolk College and modernising it with a new college with a shiny new name doesn't actually improve the standard of education... just improves the experience of falling short below standards. Polished dog turds etc. doesn't take away the fact of what it is.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Monday, June 30, 2014

  • The outcome that 95% of qualified students went on to employment or more education is not a SMART outcome measurable by Ofsted...the reasons why a "Requires Improvement" grade has been awarded is for the following reasons: 1.)The proportion of students achieving their main qualification in 201213 remained below the national rate for similar colleges. 2.)Vocational students on courses at level 3 make insufficient progress relative to their starting points. 3.)The proportion of students achieving functional skills in English and mathematics is low. 4.)Teachers do not challenge students and apprentices sufficiently well to make rapid progress. 5.)Teachers provide insufficient opportunities for students to develop their English and mathematics. 6.)Teachers’ written assessments on students’ work are of inconsistent quality. 7.)Leaders and managers have made insufficient progress in raising the performance of the most underperforming subject areas. 8.)When judging the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, managers place too much emphasis on lesson observation grades alone. 9.)Managers have not ensured that all students are receiving their full entitlement under the provision of the study programme.  It is a good College but with so many stakeholders pulling all colleges in so many different directions and a board of governors that are behind the times as regards to educational innovation, it’s no surprise the majority of the country is falling behind the standards expected!

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    Chris Ward

    Monday, June 30, 2014

  • Ofsted evaluations can differ from day to day. Teaching standards have not necessarily dropped however there are too many "managers" making simple teaching practice difficult. Leave the teachers to teach! stop putting them under unnecessary pressure and results will improve. People do not work effectively when they're constantly under the cosh.

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    Rory Breaker

    Monday, June 30, 2014

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