Bath College has been told it needs to make improvements following an Ofsted inspection.
College leaders have spoken of their disappointment and highlighted the “significant pressure” that the four-day inspection placed on staff.
The previous two Ofsted reports – published in 2018 and 2013 – had rated the further education college as Good.
But in the report published yesterday, Monday 29th January, following the visit by a team of 12 inspectors last October, the college has dropped a grade.
At the time of the inspection, around 2,000 students aged 16 to 18, 2,000 adult learners, and 630 apprentices were studying at the college, which has two main sites; in the city centre and the Somer Valley campus in Radstock.
Principal Jayne Davis said: “We’re naturally disappointed that the Ofsted judgement is not the Good grade we were expecting, and we are working on the issues raised in the report.
“While we are pleased that inspectors recognised the strength of our education programmes for young people, our subcontracting partnerships, the quality of our work with high needs students and the positive behaviour and attitudes of our students, there is progress to be made elsewhere.
“The college is therefore addressing those areas identified as requiring improvement.”
Those categories are quality of education; leadership and management; adult learning programmes; apprenticeships; and students’ personal development.
The Ofsted report acknowledges that leaders and managers have started to take appropriate actions to improve the curriculum planning and monitoring of progress for apprenticeships, but that these improvements are new and have yet to have an impact.
The inspectors also noted that leaders have recognised previous weaknesses in high-needs provision and managers have taken action to make improvements that are now having a positive impact.
The college’s chair of governors Andy Salmon said: “While we recognise that there are legitimate challenges within the report and would want an Ofsted re-inspection as soon as possible to demonstrate our progress in those areas, it is also important to say that the inspection and appeals process, as has been highlighted in recent months, does not allow for a nuanced and balanced view of an institution.
“It also places significant pressure on the many staff involved and we would like to take this opportunity to thank those staff and other partners who supported the college in the inspection and for all they do for the local area and region’s young people, adults, apprentices, distance learners, community learners and high needs learners.
“Our focus now is on addressing the challenges swiftly and build on the strengths.”
Current and planned actions by the college to address challenges identified by Ofsted include:
- Programmes to provide specific support to staff in areas where skills support has been identified, including a new process where a team of experts will be meeting with all areas which need additional help regularly to ensure that the provision is supported, challenged and improves at pace.
- Additional development support for staff, including a new mentor programme.
- New software to enable a consistent approach to monitoring progress reviews in all apprenticeship programmes.
- Restructuring of the business development team under new leadership to create more opportunities for a diverse range of work-related activities for students and learners and greater employer input into curriculum design.
- Revised teaching and learning strategy.
- A new structure for student services.
- New ways of working virtually and more innovatively with microbusiness to ensure they have a full part in developing the curriculum.