Staff and students are celebrating after a ‘remarkable’ turnaround saw their college jump from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ in its latest Ofsted inspection.
During the Covid pandemic, Ofsted visited the college three times, and each time found ‘significant progress’ and performance.
Now following a full inspection, Ofsted has told senior leaders, that it had a clear trajectory to achieve overall outstanding and have declared it a strong ‘good’ in eight areas and ‘outstanding’ in a ninth.
The inspectors found that the way the college’s curriculum supports students to develop their knowledge and skills beyond purely the academic, technical or vocational is “outstanding”.
Northumberland College is part of Education Partnership North East which includes a dynamic academic and technical group of further education, specialist and sixth form college providers.
Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Northumberland College and Education Partnership North East, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the hard work, talent and dedication of our Northumberland team has been recognised and rewarded. With the Department for Education backing our new college build, and now a full Ofsted inspection confirming the quality of our provision, the future is bright.
“I would like to give specific thanks to the many employers and community stakeholders who have supported the transformation of our curriculum and its alignment to industry.”
The report was particularly complimentary about Northumberland College’s educational portfolio stating the college “provides programmes that respond effectively to national, regional and local priorities and that enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they need for employment, further training and progression to higher education”.
Ofsted also reported that since Northumberland College’s merger in 2019, leaders have taken action to address successfully significant issues at the college relating to the curriculum, the quality of education, health and safety, and finance. This has resulted in rapid improvements in the provision at the college”.
As an outcome “students benefit from a calm and focussed environment in which they are encouraged to contribute their ideas and know that they will be listened to”. They “demonstrate positive attitudes to learning. They enjoy their lessons and take pride in their work. Students experience a culture of high expectations and are supported well to develop appropriate attitudes and behaviours that prepares them well for their next steps”.
Ellen added: “It has been a united, one-team approach, with staff, students, governors, partners and stakeholders all working hard to deliver the further education provision that Northumberland needs and deserves.”
On merger in 2019, Education Partnership North East delivered an extensive, multi-million-pound re-development programme at Northumberland College supported by the Department for Education. Recognised by Ofsted, this has transformed the college’s campuses, particularly at Kirkley Hall, Ponteland to include a new equine centre and a new state-of-the-art building that has enhanced the college’s special educational needs or disability (SEND) provision.
John Johnston, Group Chief Executive of Ashington-based Bernicia Homes and Chair of Ashington Town Board, said: “I’m delighted that this Ofsted report confirms what we already knew – that Northumberland College has come a long way in a short space of time under its inspirational management and leadership team.
“The quality of the college’s provision has improved massively, and the college now plays an important role across Northumberland – it’s work with partners and stakeholders such as Bernicia and Ashington Town Board is having a very real and genuine impact on the lives of young people and on the county more widely.”
Northumberland College became part of the newly formed Education Partnership North East three years ago. The college group also includes Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form.
*Earlier this month, Northumberland College announced Gary Potts would replace current Principal Nigel Harrett at the end of the summer. Gary is currently Group Vice Principal for Business, Innovation and Partnerships at Education Training Collective which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, The Skills Academy and NETA Training Group.
We are the largest further education provider in Northumberland with campuses throughout the county.
Our student transport scheme is available for eligible students to make getting to and from college as easy as possible.
Our extensive re-development programme will create outstanding new facilities.
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