Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) – which hosts one of the LEP’s advanced manufacturing and engineering hub’s spokes – has become the first further education provider in England to achieve the top grades in every area of Ofsted’s recently reformed Education Inspection Framework (EIF).
The rigorous week long dual campus inspection, which took place before October half-term, saw a 13-strong inspectorate team immerse themselves in college life, scrutinising many areas of provision and compiling extensive feedback from learners, parents, employer partners and staff.
The inspection report, published on 14 November 2019, praises all areas of the College’s provision and acknowledges NSCG’s ‘positive, stimulating and safe learning environment’, ‘highly motivated staff’, and ‘learners’ exemplary behaviour and attitudes to learning’.
It also highlights the way in which NSCG prepares learners for progression, noting that ‘all learners make very good sustained progress from their starting points’ and that ‘learners feel that all staff care about their futures and provide them with the support and motivation to succeed’.
The report also acknowledges the fantastic partnerships the College has with industry, praising the ‘exceptional links with local employers and regional business groups’ and the ‘high-quality work experience and work related activities that help learners to develop the skills employers value’. It states that ‘employers value highly the way apprentices’ curriculum helps them develop the exact knowledge, skills and behaviours they need for their future job roles’.
NSCG has an outstanding reputation for supporting students with complex needs and inspectors found that ‘learners with high needs receive highly effective specialist support, gaining the skills they need to live and work confidently in society and future employment’.
In the first full Ofsted inspection since NSCG formed in 2016, inspectors also commend the way in which leaders and managers of the former Newcastle-under-Lyme College had very effectively brought about the merger with Stafford College, which had, prior to merger been rated ‘Inadequate’.
Karen Dobson OBE, Principal & Chief Executive of NSCG, said:
At the point of merger between Newcastle College and Stafford College, our ambition was to make NSCG one of the top colleges in the country and ultimately a great place to study and work. Now, only three years since the merger, Ofsted has recognised us as an ‘Outstanding’ college in all graded areas which is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work, talent and total commitment of our staff team.The inspection itself was an intense week, but we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this result without our students, apprentices, governors and employer partners who gave us their total support throughout, each of them playing an important part in this successful outcome.Being the first further education college nationally to achieve ‘Outstanding’ in all areas of Ofsted’s new framework is absolutely brilliant, we hope everyone connected with the College will join us in celebrating this success. However, we can never stand still and at NSCG we are always looking to do better and to be better. We have an exciting future ahead and will remain committed to excellence.”
Simon Leech, Chair of the Corporation at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, added:
This report is the result of a fantastic team effort led by Karen which places NSCG at the forefront of the further education sector and affirms our position as the leading merged college nationally. I am proud of the entire college population who work hard not just for Ofsted, but year round to make NSCG a top-performing, vibrant, thriving college that delivers a tangible impact on the lives and futures of the people in its community”.