Principal hails good progress - but Lowestoft College still “requires improvement”, say Ofsted inspectors
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Lowestoft College is making good progress towards improving standards despite an inspection report which said too much teaching and learning requires improvement, its principal has said.
Interim principal Jo Pretty said the Ofsted report - which graded the college as “requires improvement”, the second lowest out of four grades - had highlighted many issues the college was already aware of and acknowledged steps are being taken to rectify the issues.
Ofsted said it recognised that governors took “decisive action” in July last year to address a slow pace of change at the college by appointing Ms Pretty as interim principal and restructuring its management team.
“Since this decision, the pace of change has increased dramatically,” lead inspector William Baidoe-Ansah said in his report, published on Wednesday, January 14.
“Governors and senior managers have developed a comprehensive recovery plan to bring about much-needed improvements to the quality of provision.
However it went on to say that while “managers have introduced many new systems and procedures over the last few months that are starting to have a positive impact in a number of subject areas”, it is “too early to judge the effect of these changes throughout the college”.
The inspectors’ main criticisms included that “teachers in classes do not always pay sufficient attention to students’ different abilities” and that “success rates are too variable”, adding: “Half of subject area rates have increased, but the other half are declining.”
It also criticised the planning and promotion of diversity in subjects and that English and the development of literacy skills “are not sufficiently embedded in vocational subjects”.
However, Ofsted praised its apprenticeship programme and said a high proportion of students in engineering and health, public services and care - key areas for future employment - complete their qualifications successfully.
Ms Pretty said: “The narrative of the report is quite positive and shows we’re travelling in the right direction, given that we had significant changes in the summer.”
She acknowledged there were “inconsistencies” in teaching across the college and that the college would be working with staff to give them training and coaching to address any areas of weakness.
She said the college’s ambition is to get top “outstanding” rating from Ofsted - but that to move to the next level, those inconsistencies need to be improved and the aspirations of students need to be raised.
She also said the college needed to change the culture around attitudes towards English and maths, so that more students took literacy and numeracy parts of their programme more seriously.
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