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Ofsted praises college's 'swift and decisive' action over inflated success rates, despite grade drop

Despite praising action taken by North Hertfordshire College to rectify its 'perilous financial position', Ofsted gives it an overall grade of requires improvement

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Despite praising action taken by North Hertfordshire College to rectify its 'perilous financial position', Ofsted gives it an overall grade of requires improvement

A college has been praised by Ofsted for its “swift and decisive” action over the inflating of success rate data – despite seeing its overall grade drop.

Last year, TES revealed that North Hertfordshire College’s recently-appointed principal Matt Hamnett (pictured) had uncovered evidence that, prior to him taking up the post, it had inflated its success rates by manipulating results data.

A report published today by Ofsted acknowledges the “swift and decisive action to rectify the previous poor practice in the reporting of learners’ success to funding organisations”.

It adds: “Leaders have been effective in rectifying the perilous financial position of the college and ensuring that expenditure is sustainable and is now directed to quality improvement.”

But the college was given an overall grade of requires improvement, down from the good rating it received following its previous inspection in 2010.

The latest report states that, within different subjects, “much variability of teaching, learning and assessment exists on classroom-based courses, with too much requiring improvement”.

“Not enough teachers use information about learners’ starting points purposefully to plan lessons that provide the necessary challenge and extend their learning,” it says, adding: “Not enough teachers set high expectations of their learners.”

However the college was rated good for the effectiveness of leadership and management. “Following the appointment of a new governing body and senior leadership team, leaders have developed a clear vision for the future of the college that focuses on the provision of high-quality learning linked explicitly to meeting the needs of employers and the aspirations of learners,” the report says.

Mr Hamnett told TES that the judgement was “fair”. “We are pleased that Ofsted recognised the work we have done over the last 16 months to refocus and rebuild our institution. Our financial position is now sound. We have successfully refreshed our governing body and senior management team. We have an ambitious, progressive, five-year strategy and curriculum development plans rooted in the needs of the labour market,” he added.

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