Peterborough College, Stamford College and the partnership provisions that form Inspire Education Group (IEG), are delighted to confirm they have been rated ‘Good’ alongside the highest outcome of ‘Strong’ in meeting skills needs under the new enhanced Ofsted inspection framework for colleges and schools in England.
This fantastic news follows the recent publication of the latest National Achievement Rates Tables (NARTs) which ranks Inspire Education Group in the top 3% of General Further Education (GFE) Colleges (5th out of 168 colleges) nationally for GCSE English and maths results, and in the top 20% of GFE Colleges nationally for overall achievement rates of 16 to 18-year-olds (28th out of 160 colleges).
Both the Ofsted inspection outcome and the recently published national data evidences how the Inspire Education Group delivers on its mission to ‘Transform lives through inspirational education and training’.
Consequently, Inspire Education Group has seen its popularity soar, with a substantial increase in student admissions in 2022, resulting in an additional 200 young people choosing the Inspire Education Group, taking the total enrolments of 16 to 18-year-olds to 4,600 in 2022/23, with a significant increase in applications to date for September 2023.
This growth is not only testament to the quality of education and training on offer but also to the significant breadth of curriculum available across the Group. The wide-ranging course offer, which includes technical and vocational courses, A Levels, T Levels, Apprenticeships, specific courses that enable adults to retrain as well as higher level qualifications including degrees means that students, parents and employers have a huge choice of options when it comes to their education and training.
The recent four-day Ofsted inspection across both the Stamford and Peterborough campuses was the first inspection since the Colleges merged in 2020, and the Group’s leaders and governors are thrilled that the subsequent report positively recognises the Group’s key strengths and impact on the students, employers and communities we serve.
Ofsted grades awarded as per the order in the report were as follows:
Overall effectiveness – Good
The quality of education – Good
Behaviour and attitudes – Good
Personal development – Good
Leadership and management – Good
Education programmes for young people – Good
Adult learning programmes – Outstanding
Apprenticeships – Requires improvement
Provision for learners with high needs – Outstanding
Rachel Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Education Group, said, “Peterborough College and Stamford College have been rightly recognised as fantastic places to study and work and is testament to the hard work of our students and staff. We are particularly proud of the ‘Outstanding’ grades awarded to our Adult provision and High Needs provision, which demonstrates our innovation, excellence and the positive impact we have on our students and communities. We are 100% focussed on further developing our apprenticeship provision, which we recognise is not at the standard we expect and which has been materially impacted by the difficulties to recruit specialist lecturers and assessors, particularly in Engineering and Construction”.
Highlights of the complimentary Ofsted report included recognition that, “staff at all levels care passionately about the wellbeing of their students”, which we believe is an essential ingredient for student success and an increasing priority since the pandemic.
Furthermore, Ofsted stated that “students and apprentices develop substantial new knowledge and skills” and in particular, praised the Group’s “ethos that courses should be about careers rather than qualifications”. The report also acknowledged the ‘wide-ranging industry connections’ that ensure, “stakeholders and employers provide valuable input into the taught curriculum” resulting in, “students progressing to positive destinations at the end of their courses”.
The Colleges’ phenomenal reputation for excellent English and maths results were also recognised by Ofsted who stated, “students achieve very good results in their English and mathematics qualifications and develop the skills they need for career progression”.
The Inspectors also commended the highly productive partnerships that “provide high-quality employability skills training”, with the report further identifying that adult students particularly “study demanding programmes in an exceptionally positive, supportive learning environment”. As a result, Ofsted determined “most see a swift improvement in their knowledge and skills and make excellent progress on their courses”.
When judging the quality of provision for those learners with high needs for whom additional funding is awarded by local authorities, Ofsted said they had an “exceptionally positive experience” and that “leaders and managers are extremely ambitious for students to achieve positive outcomes and participate fully”. This evidences the inclusive culture at the Inspire Education Group which enables all our students to thrive and succeed regardless of the barriers they may face.
Chair of the Board of Governors, Ian Jackson, said “I am immensely proud of the achievements of our students and the hard work of all our staff, which have been rightly recognised by the Ofsted inspection team. After serving as a governor for over 10 years and as Chair for five years, it feels like the right time to step away, knowing that the Group is in an excellent position to build on its success and transition into its next phase of development. I will continue to support the work of the Group and have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a governor. I am exceptionally proud of the impact we have on the communities we serve; we truly do transform lives”.