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NCG rated 'good' by Ofsted after four-month wait

The country's biggest college group has retained its previous rating, despite difficulties inspectors had 'disaggregating' its colleges' data

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The country's biggest college group has retained its previous rating, despite difficulties inspectors had 'disaggregating' its colleges' data

NCG, England’s largest FE college group, has been graded "good" by Ofsted – following a four-month wait for the report to be published.

TES understands that while the college group was judged to be good following the initial inspection in May, problems arose during the quality assurance stage of the process, with the inspectorate struggling to separate the data for the different parts of the group.

NCG – formerly known as the Newcastle College Group – consists of Newcastle College, West Lancashire College, Kidderminster College and Newcastle Sixth-Form College, as well as training providers Rathbone and Intraining. Collectively, the group has a turnover of £178 million and 3,000 staff across 61 locations.

The inspection focused only on the four colleges, but NCG said historic data for 2014-15 also covered Rathbone, which works with more than 3,000 young people not in education, employment or training. As a result, this dragged down overall performance data, and raised the prospect of the overall grade being changed to requires improvement, down from the overall grade of good at its previous inspection.

But the report, published today, confirmed NCG was rated good overall.

'Welcome news'

An NCG spokesperson said: “Although Rathbone was out of scope of the college inspection, the combined data made it difficult for Ofsted’s quality assurance leads to disaggregate the college performance.”

Chief executive Joe Docherty said: “I am pleased that all four NCG colleges have been assessed as good in their recent Ofsted inspection. This is welcome news and follows the assessment of our private training provider Intraining, which secured a 'good' inspection at the same time.”

In July, TES revealed that Ofsted was looking to consult the sector on plans to offer separate overall grades for each college campus. No consultation has yet started, but the Department for Education has said that the plans will be published in due course.

In February, Mr Docherty revealed in TES that NCG had become the first college group to be given six separate funding contracts by the Skills Funding Agency for each of its constituent parts.

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