It’s All Good at Darlington College Following Recent Ofsted Inspection

IT’S ALL ‘good’ at a pioneering North East college as it continues to forge high quality learning to meet the needs of the Tees Valley, County Durham and North Yorkshire.

Ten Ofsted inspectors descended on Darlington College for one of the first assessments in the country conducted under a new stringent ‘enhanced inspection framework’.

They awarded the standard of ‘good’ right across the board in eight key areas including quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, education programmes for young people, adult learning programmes, apprenticeships and provision for learners with high needs.

Darlington College was last inspected in 2016 when it was awarded ‘good’. But staff and students were thrilled with the latest report which follows the introduction of new rigorous Government standards and is set against a backdrop of a global pandemic.

Principal and chief executive Kate Roe said: “We are very proud of our students and our hard working, dedicated and committed staff. It should not be under-estimated just how well everyone has done given that there is a tough new inspection framework and the disruption of a two year pandemic. To continue to perform so well is credit to everyone and something to be proud of.”

Inspectors highlighted:

  • Students and apprentices demonstrated positive and professional behaviour in the classrooms, workshops and across the campus
  • Staff set high expectations for behaviour and students are polite and courteous towards each other and staff
  • Motivated to learn, they apply themselves diligently
  • Students and apprentices benefit from industry standard learning environments including a new robotics lab
  • They feel safe in college and develop their understanding of occupational safety
  • Most benefit from timely and effective careers advice. They are supported in university choices, helped with personal statements and prepared for interviews
  • Leaders and managers work effectively with employers and local authorities to understand the skills needs of the region and are considered to ‘add value’ in upskilling the community to take advantage of the growth in job vacancies
  • Pupils from local schools are inspired by the industry-standard environment of the college
  • Leaders target learning to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged members of the community including victims of domestic abuse, the travelling community and people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The report stated: “Leaders provide programmes that successfully meet the needs of the communities that they serve. As a result, most students and apprentices move to the next stage of education and training or into employment.

“Teachers are knowledgeable and highly skilled in the subjects that they teach. Leaders and managers support teachers by enabling them to update their professional practice frequently.”

Inspectors also recognised the amount of support given to students by liaison officers, academic and pastoral progress coaches, a safeguarding team and even through college visits for students with additional needs while they are still at school. The benefits of keeping mentally and physically healthy were also well-promoted.

Curriculum enrichment activities were praised including trips, some abroad, and visits by industry experts.

Deputy principal Carole Todd said the inspection report was the perfect platform on which to launch a host of exciting new developments at Darlington College in 2023.

These would include the opening of a new STEM centre, an electric and hybrid vehicle training workshop and a range of hi-tech, 360 degree, immersive learning facilities that would be able to take students virtually anywhere, including to the heart of a rainforest, city or beach or to the top of a wind turbine.

“We always aim to be at the forefront of new technology and Ofsted recognised that we have state-of-the-art facilities,” Mrs Todd said.

“With this latest, really exciting, development we can see that this is the way learning will develop in the future and schools and employers can have faith in us to provide them with the necessary skills.”

Read the full report here – Ofsted November 2022

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