Ofsted’s Suffolk New College report is published with standards ‘needing to improve’

Suffolk New College

Suffolk New College - Credit: Archant

“Too much” teaching and learning needs improvement at Suffolk New College, Ofsted has found.

Viv Gillespie, principal at Suffolk New College.

Viv Gillespie, principal at Suffolk New College.

Inspectors judged the Ipswich college to be ‘requires improvement’ in five out of seven areas, including leadership, quality of teaching and standards of courses for mature students.

It is the second ‘requires improvement’ grade to be awarded within 18 months, although Ofsted did judge apprenticeships and student support as ‘good’.

Principal, Viv Gillespie, said the college has high expectations of students – with work underway to raise aspirations and to “stretch” and “challenge” learners.

The Ofsted report, which was published this morning, states: “The proportion of learners who complete their courses successfully has improved but too much teaching, learning and assessment in study programmes and adult learning provision requires improvement.

Suffolk New College

Suffolk New College - Credit: Archant

“Not enough teachers set sufficiently high expectations of what learners can achieve. They do not routinely plan teaching and assessment that motivate and challenge all their learners, particularly the most able and, as a result, not enough learners make sufficient progress from their starting points.”

Mrs Gillespie said the college was improving and is now well placed to raise standards further.

Most Read

“I am pleased to see that we have received recognition for our work with employers and that our apprenticeship provision is rated as good,” she said.

“Ofsted have highlighted as a strength the good technical skills that our apprentices receive that makes them valued employees.

Viv Gillespie, principal at Suffolk New College.

Viv Gillespie, principal at Suffolk New College.

“Our support for students was also identified as good and specific reference was made to the excellent range of enrichment activities on offer and the fact that students develop their work related skills through purposeful external work experience and by studying additional qualifications.”

Ofsted said Mrs Gillespie, who started in the summer, as well as governors and senior leaders had “strengthen” their drive to make improvements, although there was still criticism.

The report states: “Governors and senior leaders have been slow to address management weaknesses, and have only recently appointed managers responsible for English, mathematics and improving teaching and learning”.

The college has around 3,800 students enrolled.

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said the Ofsted report was a fair assessment of the college.

“I think this is a realistic reflection of where the college is,” he said. “There has been some improvement from the last report, in particular I am pleased to see that apprenticeship provision is rated as good.

“I have got great confidence in the new principal and I am sure that we will see this rating improve as her work and that of her team bears fruit.”

Roger Fern, chairman of the college’s governing body, said with Mrs Gillespie and a new five-year strategic plan in place, the college was well positioned to improve.

“The Ofsted result is important to us and we are disappointed not to be recognised fully at this time for the progress already made, and we are one of the first colleges to be inspected under the new framework,” he said.

He added it was “challenging” for colleges to support students who were re-taking English and maths GCSEs within a year. All further education colleges are now required to support new students who fail to get a grade C or above in the key subjects at secondary school.

Around 1,500 students are studying GCSE English at the college – previously Suffolk College – with the same number for maths.

See more Education news here