Cheshire College - South & West


Name Cheshire College - South & West
Website http://www.ccsw.ac.uk
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 30 April 2012
Address Dane Bank Avenue, Crewe, Cheshire, CW2 8AB
Phone Number 01270654654
Type General Further Education and Tertiary
Age Range 16-99
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils unknown
Local Authority Cheshire East

Information about the provider

1. South Cheshire College is a general further education (GFE) college located in a modern campus development in Crewe. Funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the college offers academic and vocational programmes from foundation to advanced level in all subject areas, apart from the landbased sector. It has developed apprenticeships and other provision designed to meet the needs of employers over the last two years. The college also offers foundation degrees, adult and community learning, and courses for students aged 14 to 18 from local schools. 2. The college attracts students from throughout south and east Cheshire, notably Crewe, Nantwich, Alsager, Middlewich, Sandbach, and Congleton, and also from North Shropshire and North Staffordshire. Around one third of students are aged 16 to 18 and enrolled on AS- and A-level courses. In 2010/11, the college enrolled 2,662 students aged 16 to 18, and 3,722 adults. Just over half of all students are female. The proportion of students from minority ethnic groups reflects that in the local community. 3. The proportion of pupils in Crewe schools achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and mathematics, is below the national average. The prior attainment of students aged 16 to 18 enrolling at the college is above the average for GFE colleges. Although the college recruits most of its students from areas that are not disadvantaged, Crewe and Nantwich have five wards in the highest quartile of deprived wards nationally. 4. The inspection took account of all of the provision offered by the college that is funded by the SFA. Provision in health and social care and childcare, leisure, travel and tourism, visual and performing arts, and social sciences and humanities, was inspected in depth. 5. The following organisations provide training on behalf of the college: Petty Pool Trust (Preparation for life and work) Sandbach Boys School (Part-time courses for adults) Eaton Bank High School (Part-time courses for adults) Brine Leas High School (Part-time courses for adults) Middlewich High School (Part-time courses for adults) Cheshire Fire Service (Prince’s Trust qualifications). Type of provision Number of enrolled learners in 2010/11 Provision for young learners: 14 to 16 Further education (16 to 18) Foundation learning 94 part-time learners 2,546 full-time learners 116 part-time learners 278 full-time learners 28 part-time learners Provision for adult learners: Further education (19+) 552 full-time learners 1,830 part-time learners Employer provision: Train to Gain Apprenticeships 86 learners 37 apprentices Informal adult learning 742 learners Summary report Grades: 1 is outstanding; 2 is good; 3 is satisfactory; 4 is inadequate Overall effectiveness of provision Grade 2 Capacity to improve Grade 2 Grade Outcomes for learners 2 Quality of provision 2 Leadership and management 2 Safeguarding Equality and diversity 2 2 Subject Areas Grade Health and social care, and child care 2 Leisure, travel and tourism 3 Visual and performing arts 2 Social sciences and humanities 2 Overall effectiveness 6. This is a good college that students enjoy attending. A-level students are very successful in their examinations. On other courses, very high numbers staying until the end of their courses achieve their qualifications, but in previous years, too many have left early. Over the last two years, the college has enhanced its arrangements for helping students to choose the right course and, as a consequence, high numbers are still at college this year and are making good progress. On some courses, such as A-level English literature and childcare programmes, students make excellent progress. Most students produce high quality work and develop the skills they need to achieve their ambition to go to university. Students and members of staff work in very modern accommodation with mostly very high quality learning resources. In health and social care, some vocational lessons are taught inappropriately in computer rooms. Students’ personal and social development improves significantly at college. Their attendance at lessons is good and they arrive punctually and well prepared to work. Their behaviour is mature and they treat each other with respect. 7. Most teachers plan interesting and challenging activities that support students in learning the skills they need to make good progress. Assessment feedback is effective and helping most students to understand the progress they are making and what they need to do to improve. Students receive good support that helps them to be successful at college and to progress to higher education. Careers advice for those wishing to secure employment is not as well developed. Pastoral support for A-level students is outstanding. 8. Managers have developed outstanding partnerships which they use very well to provide students with a broad range of subjects that meet their needs well. The numbers of apprenticeship programmes and courses designed to meet the needs of employed learners have increased significantly over the last two years. 9. Governors and the principal have steered the college very well, overseeing its finances and estate developments very efficiently. Rigorous arrangements for monitoring the college’s performance against it targets are underpinned by the analysis of comprehensive data on students’ achievements. Self-assessment provides managers with an accurate appraisal of the college to inform quality improvement plans. The judgements made through some lesson observations are too generous, and as such, do not provide a robust agenda for improvement. Main findings The proportions of students completing their courses successfully have improved steadily. However, rates of improvement vary between levels and types of qualification. At A-level, proportions of students completing successfully have been very high for a number of years. On some AS-level and vocational programmes, success rates dipped in 2010/11 as a result of declining retention rates. The college has implemented very effective strategies to improve retention, which is now high. Pass rates are very high. Students make good progress at college. They produce high standards of work and those who complete their courses successfully achieve the grades expected from their prior qualifications. Their personal and social development improves significantly during their time at college. They attend well and most arrive punctually. Their behaviour in lessons and other areas of the college is excellent. Students feel safe and enjoy their time at college. They treat each other, and members of staff, with respect and courtesy. Staff deal with incidents of inappropriate behaviour swiftly. Students adopt safe working practices that help them to stay safe in practical lessons and prepare them well for employment. Teaching and learning are good. The majority of teachers use a variety of activities that reflect the different ways students learn and the pace of lessons is brisk. Students benefit from opportunities to develop and apply their literacy skills by engaging in challenging discussions and evaluations which extend their understanding. In the less effective lessons, objectives are unclear and teachers do not provide enough opportunities to increase students’ motivation and to develop their literacy skills. Most teachers provide students with assessment feedback that helps them to understand what they need to do to improve. In a minority of lessons, assessment is not linked to the assignment criteria. Teachers provide useful additional sessions that support students in their learning. Students are able to choose from a broad range of academic and vocational courses which provide them with pathways that help them to progress from foundation to advanced level. Extensive enrichment activities enhance their courses, helping them to achieve their ambitions and to enjoy college. However, some students are not aware of the extra opportunities available. The numbers of apprenticeships and other courses for employers are increasing rapidly. Managers have developed outstanding partnerships with key strategic groups that they use very well to inform the development of the curriculum ensuring that the courses offered meet local needs. Very well established and extensive arrangements for liaising with local schools are highly effective in raising the aspirations of young people and in easing their transition to college. Working with the Prince’s Trust, the college is planning to deliver provision for young people not currently in education. Good arrangements for guidance and support help students to choose the right course, to settle quickly into college, and to achieve their potential. Pastoral support for students on A-level courses is outstanding. On some vocational programmes, the quality of pastoral support is inconsistent. Students in need of extra help are identified and supported quickly with additional support that helps them to do as well as their peers. Governors and senior managers steer the college well. Staff understand their roles in helping the college to meets its strategic aims. Sound financial management and strong oversight of the college’s estate developments have ensured that students’ learning is supported by mostly very good learning resources. Staff and students work in a safe and welcoming environment where equality has a high priority. Arrangements for quality improvement are effective in improving standards. Managers use data very well to hold staff to account for their performance against challenging targets. Although observation of teaching and learning identifies teachers who underperform, some of the judgements made and grades awarded are too generous and do not provide a realistic agenda for improvement.

Main findings

The proportions of students completing their courses successfully have improved steadily. However, rates of improvement vary between levels and types of qualification. At A-level, proportions of students completing successfully have been very high for a number of years. On some AS-level and vocational programmes, success rates dipped in 2010/11 as a result of declining retention rates. The college has implemented very effective strategies to improve retention, which is now high. Pass rates are very high. Students make good progress at college. They produce high standards of work and those who complete their courses successfully achieve the grades expected from their prior qualifications. Their personal and social development improves significantly during their time at college. They attend well and most arrive punctually. Their behaviour in lessons and other areas of the college is excellent. Students feel safe and enjoy their time at college. They treat each other, and members of staff, with respect and courtesy. Staff deal with incidents of inappropriate behaviour swiftly. Students adopt safe working practices that help them to stay safe in practical lessons and prepare them well for employment. Teaching and learning are good. The majority of teachers use a variety of activities that reflect the different ways students learn and the pace of lessons is brisk. Students benefit from opportunities to develop and apply their literacy skills by engaging in challenging discussions and evaluations which extend their understanding. In the less effective lessons, objectives are unclear and teachers do not provide enough opportunities to increase students’ motivation and to develop their literacy skills. Most teachers provide students with assessment feedback that helps them to understand what they need to do to improve. In a minority of lessons, assessment is not linked to the assignment criteria. Teachers provide useful additional sessions that support students in their learning. Students are able to choose from a broad range of academic and vocational courses which provide them with pathways that help them to progress from foundation to advanced level. Extensive enrichment activities enhance their courses, helping them to achieve their ambitions and to enjoy college. However, some students are not aware of the extra opportunities available. The numbers of apprenticeships and other courses for employers are increasing rapidly. Managers have developed outstanding partnerships with key strategic groups that they use very well to inform the development of the curriculum ensuring that the courses offered meet local needs. Very well established and extensive arrangements for liaising with local schools are highly effective in raising the aspirations of young people and in easing their transition to college. Working with the Prince’s Trust, the college is planning to deliver provision for young people not currently in education. Good arrangements for guidance and support help students to choose the right course, to settle quickly into college, and to achieve their potential. Pastoral support for students on A-level courses is outstanding. On some vocational programmes, the quality of pastoral support is inconsistent. Students in need of extra help are identified and supported quickly with additional support that helps them to do as well as their peers. Governors and senior managers steer the college well. Staff understand their roles in helping the college to meets its strategic aims. Sound financial management and strong oversight of the college’s estate developments have ensured that students’ learning is supported by mostly very good learning resources. Staff and students work in a safe and welcoming environment where equality has a high priority. Arrangements for quality improvement are effective in improving standards. Managers use data very well to hold staff to account for their performance against challenging targets. Although observation of teaching and learning identifies teachers who underperform, some of the judgements made and grades awarded are too generous and do not provide a realistic agenda for improvement.