Seven Months Since A Disappointing Inspection By Ofsted, Darlington College Is Making a Solid Recovery.Print Page
Principal Kate Roe has announced the college is making steady progress and the board has appointed a new chair to take the helm
Former Head of Hummersknott Academy Pat Howarth has taken over as Chair of Governors, and is one of a number of changes to the college’s board.
Ms Roe, who took over as Principal 15 months ago, said she was pleased the College was making progress after the February Ofsted inspection.
“It has been a long road but both Ofsted and the FE Commissioners have commented that the College is in better shape and it has been a huge team effort.
“We are delighted Pat has joined us and brings a wealth of educational experience to the board. There is still a long way to go but there have been significant changes to the college. Success rates have improved in vocational subject areas, English and maths tutors have been recruited and the academic year has started very well, “ she said.
The College suffered a huge blow earlier this year when Ofsted rated it as inadequate, five years after it was classed at outstanding.
Since the Ofsted visit, all the staff have pulled together to lead a huge internal drive to improve outcomes for students, make teaching more challenging and effective, and deliver high quality apprenticeship training.
The College has been visited by Ofsted twice since February and has been under the scrutiny of the FE Commissioner which has acted like a critical friend.
Both Ofsted and the Commissioner welcomed the new Chair’s appointment and changes to developing the curriculum, and strong focus on teaching.
The FE Commissioner said current students welcomed new changes and the extra challenge embedded in lessons.
Ms Roe added: “The feedback from students was really pleasing because they told the Commissioner they enjoyed their time at college, that they appreciated the extra challenge to their aspirations, and welcomed the chance to have their say about student activity.”
She said that further education nationally is still facing challenges with ongoing austerity cuts to funding and budgets.. The College is one of 10 post-16 providers in the Tees Valley currently taking part in an Area Review, but she said the consultations were at a very early stage. Only one meeting involving all Principals and College Chairs has been held so far and any outcomes are not expected until Spring.
The new Chair Pat Howarth said the College was a very important part of the town and was pleased with the rapid improvement since the Ofsted inspection.
He said he was meeting with as many staff and students as possible to get to know the organisation.
“This college is a vital part of the community in Darlington and it’s a privilege to take on the position of Chair. The work that has been undertaken by Kate and all the staff so far has been enormous and we will work with the team to strengthen those changes,” he said.
The College is unlikely to be re-inspected until the summer at the earliest