College rated as ‘good’ by watchdogs

Anna Dawe, principal of Wigan And Leigh College

Anna Dawe, principal of Wigan And Leigh College

Staff and students are celebrating after Wigan and Leigh College was judged to be “good” by education inspectors.

A team from Ofsted praised the college and gave it a higher rating than their previous visit, when they found it needed improvement.

While the college was rated as good overall and in six of the seven categories, they did find improvements were needed in apprenticeships.

Principal Anna Dawe said: “Staff and students are delighted at the outcome of the Ofsted inspection. We are especially proud that the quality of teaching and learning and the good progress that our students made has been highlighted.

“It has been our priority to ensure that the local community has a college it can be confident in and our aim now is use this inspection as a springboard to help us on the way to achieving outstanding status.”

The inspectors found there had been “steady and sustained” improvement in achievement rates for students, the standard of work was high and managers and teachers were “passionate” about raising students’ aspirations.

Their report said: “The college’s senior leaders are ambitious in their drive for improvement. Since the last inspection, they have successfully overseen improvements in learner outcomes, the quality of provision and the sustainability of the college’s financial position.”

Ofsted praised the “good subject knowledge” of teachers and the “good range of activities” used to interest students.

They found students enjoyed learning, behaved well and attendance had improved, although it remained low in English and maths and some adults learning courses.

Achievements for both 16 to 19 year olds and adults had increased. The achievement rates for students with high needs, such as learning difficulties or disabilities, were “exceptionally high”.

However, inspectors did find improvements were needed for apprenticeships.

The report said: “Despite the recent actions of managers resulting in an improvement in both the overall and timely success rates of apprentices, the proportion of apprentices who successfully complete their programmes within planned timescales remains too low.”

They found “off-the-job training” did not challenge and extend workplace knowledge and skills enough and apprentices did not sufficiently develop their employability skills beyond the minimum requirements.

But they did report that assessors had “good subject knowledge and technical expertise” and the majority of apprentices who completed their qualifications secured employment.

Ofsted recommended that managers speed up their actions to improve the retention of students aged 16 to 19, improve the use of initial assessments to set more precise targets for apprentices attending off-the-job training, and focus on improving attendance in English and maths classes and tracking progress.

They also recommended that teachers plan additional activities in lessons to challenge more able students.

n Wigan And Leigh College has been named the best further education college in Greater Manchester, according to FE Week, and had the highest student satisfaction in Greater Manchester in the FE Choices satisfaction survey.