First college rated outstanding in new Ofsted framework

Learners at the group 'enjoy their time at college very much', and make 'very good and sustained progress'

Stephen Exley

First college rated outstanding in new Ofsted framework

Newcastle and Stafford College Group (NSCG) has become the first FE college to be rated outstanding under the new Ofsted framework.

The group, being inspected for the first time since it was created through a merger, was given Ofsted’s top grade in every single category of inspection.

The college, which operates from two campuses in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford, has more than 6,000 young people, adults and apprentices on its books.

Background: National College with 24 students criticised by Ofsted

News: Rules around subcontracting under review

Read more: 'Outstanding' FE providers to lose Ofsted exemption

Colleges' 'experienced and welcoming staff'

The report says learners “enjoy their time at college very much”, adding: “They rate highly the excellent facilities and the experienced and welcoming staff.”

Learners and apprentices make “very good and sustained progress”, and “direction from senior leaders is clear, supportive and challenging”.

The new inspection framework came into effect in September.

Principal Karen Dobson  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."

Bill Watkin, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), said it was "delighted that the hard work and strong leadership at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group has been recognised by Ofsted".

He added: "It is wonderful to celebrate its achievement in being graded outstanding across the board. To secure this judgement under an exacting new framework, and only three years on from a merger, makes its success even more remarkable. At SFCA we particularly value the generosity of NSCG in sharing its strengths, insights and experiences with other colleges in the sector.”


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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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