Troubled West Cheshire College requires improvement, Ofsted insists.
The finding follows a full four-day inspection by a team of nine inspectors including three HMIs.
It follows a decision by the watchdog in early autumn 2015 that the college was ‘Inadequate’ which led to an unsuccessful challenge.
Since then it has been subject to a series of monitoring visits ahead of the most recent inspection.
The college has welcomed the ‘well balanced report’ which it says ‘highlights many strengths and positives’.
Apart from provision for apprenticeships, which is said to be ‘Good’, the overall effectiveness of the college, the effectiveness of its leadership and management, 16 to 19 study programmes, adult learning programmes, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare and outcomes for learners are all said to 'require improvement'.
The inspectors found leaders and managers have not been successful in improving the quality of English and maths. The support for disadvantaged learners has not led to rapid enough improvements in the proportion that achieve their qualifications and so they do not do as well as other students.
Teachers do not plan learning and assessment well enough to provide sufficient challenge to all learners.
They do not always provide sufficiently helpful feedback to learners to enable them to understand what they need to do to improve the quality of their work and make the progress of which they are capable.
Attendance and punctuality are too low, particularly of adult learners, with attendance at English and maths lessons said to be ‘particularly low’.
Leaders and managers do not always take into account the achievement and progress that learners make over time when they assess the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.
As a result leaders’ actions to secure improvement are not specific enough to help teachers improve their practice.
Many positive improvements
Strengths have seen governors, senior leaders and managers ‘rigorously monitoring’ the impact of their actions to rectify the weaknesses identified at the 2015 inspection. This has led to many positive improvements in learners’ experience and achievements.
Managers have developed effective partnerships with a range of organisations resulting in a curriculum that meets local needs well and provides good work experience opportunities.
Well-managed apprenticeship programmes result in a high proportion of apprentices achieving their qualifications and progressing into employment.
Apprentices gain the technical skills and knowledge they need for work and rates of progression to further study or employment are good.
Ofsted says a ‘small number of weaknesses’ highlighted at the 2015 inspection have not yet been fully rectified and the college’s financial position is still ‘unsustainable’.
In a statement, the college says it continues to show improvement with the report highlighting ‘the effective changes that governors, senior leaders and managers have made which has led to many positive improvements in learners’ experience and achievements’.
Art and design was highlighted as an area with ‘inspirational’ teaching. Teachers were found to set high expectations which achieved good results for learners in media, games development and early years education.
Governors and senior leaders were also found to have successfully rectified the majority of areas requiring improvement identified at the last inspection while the college’s new executive leadership team is said to provide ‘clear direction’ and has a good understanding of the areas of the college that need to improve.
Staff a 'credit to everyone'
Acting principal and chief executive Helen Nellist said: “We welcome the well-balanced report which acknowledges the many improvements we have made across the college since our last inspection in 2015.
“We are extremely proud of all our learners for their ongoing commitment and positive attitude to learning which is reflected in the report. They are a credit to everyone here at the college.
“I wish to also thank all our staff who have and continue to go above and beyond, leading to improvements in our learners’ experience.”
She added: “We recognise that we still need to focus on improvements across the college to ensure we are consistently good, but this report certainly places us in a good position for the next stage of our journey and our future.”
The college is due to merge with South Cheshire College.