Telford College has received a ‘Good’ rating from watchdog Ofsted – making UK further education history in the process.
It is the first time a merger of previously under-performing further education and sixth form colleges have ever been given one of the regulator’s top two grades in its first official inspection.
The news comes just weeks after Telford College’s financial health was officially upgraded to ‘Outstanding’, and completes an incredible five years of improvement, innovation and expansion.
In its inspection report, Ofsted has praised the college for adapting the curriculum to meet changing skills needs, and for helping students to boost confidence and self-belief in a safe and stimulating learning environment.
Principal and chief executive Graham Guest described the news as ‘a magnificent achievement’.
“It is the latest milestone on what has been an incredible journey for the college over the past five years, and is richly-deserved reward for all the hard work of staff, and students,” he said.
Telford College was formed in 2017 from the merger of New College Telford, and Telford College of Arts and Technology – both deemed by Ofsted as either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’.
An 11-strong team of Ofsted inspectors spent a week at the campus in February to assess the current quality of education, behavior and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management.
The report said: “Leaders and managers have worked well since the merger to ensure that the curriculum offered by the college, including for learners who have high needs, closely reflects the skills needs of the local, regional and national economies.
“Teachers carefully design learners’ programs to meet their individual needs, and they benefit from one-to-one support in specialist individual rooms. As a result, learners are prepared well for their next steps. “
The inspectors said it was clear that students and apprentices were proud to be part of Telford College and ‘highly motivated to achieve’, displaying ‘positive attitudes to their learning’.
They also recognized the way students develop their confidence and self-belief through ‘effective encouragement and support from college staff’.
The report praised the college’s ‘effective arrangements’ with the Telford-based Learning Community Trust, which it said was helping to smooth the transition from school to college for young people.
“Staff create inclusive environments that meet the needs of learners. This is achieved by experienced teachers and support staff who take time to understand individual learners’ needs.
“Their course helps them to develop their confidence and self-belief through effective encouragement and support from college staff. As a result, learners develop their character, resilience and confidence.
“Learners on access to higher education courses discuss how they have gained enough confidence to share their own opinion and justify it in a group situation – which they would previously not felt confident enough to do.”
Ofsted said the college also worked well with stakeholders and employers to understand changing skills needs – and used this information well to tailor the curriculum and respond swiftly.
Mr Guest, who took over as principal to oversee the merger, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Ofsted has recognized the dramatic transformation since the merger, and the exciting plans we have for continued innovation and improvement.
“It’s an endorsement of the quality education we deliver. Our A level provision is now rated in the top 10% in the country, and 94% of our students receive an offer from their first-choice progression destination.
“And with our financial health now also officially recognized as being outstanding, we are in a fantastic position to continue expanding and evolving. These are incredibly exciting times for Telford College. “