Farnborough College of Technology

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Farnborough College of Technology


Name Farnborough College of Technology
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 14 November 2011
Address Boundary Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 6SB
Phone Number 01252407003
Type General Further Education and Tertiary
Age Range 16-99
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Local Authority Hampshire
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about the provider

1. Farnborough College of Technology is a medium-sized general further and higher education college in Hampshire. During 2010/11 the college ran courses on the main site in Farnborough and at ‘The Aldershot College’, which provides a venue primarily for construction skills training. The college has a significant work-based learning contract within which engineering and hairdressing are the largest areas of work. The mission of the college is to ‘ensure that our students achieve foundation, technical or higher level vocational qualifications and skills which meet local and regional skills needs and allow for progression from 14+ to higher education’. 2. In 2010/11 there were substantial numbers of long-course enrolments in almost all subject areas. There were over 5,000 qualification outcomes, excepting work-based learning. Around 60% of learners were aged 16 to 18. There were, in addition, over 500 qualification outcomes in work-based learning, including apprenticeships and in Train to Gain. The college offers a significant number of higher education programmes, which provide a range of potential progression routes for further education students. 3. The college serves the areas of Farnborough, Aldershot and the surrounding towns and villages of the Blackwater Valley. These areas experience low levels of unemployment. There is significant choice available to learners aged 16 to 18 at the end of their GCSE studies, especially as the college is on the border of three counties. The college cooperates closely with five other providers of sixth form provision in the vicinity, including Farnborough’s sixth form college. In the last few years the ethnicity of the college’s student population has become more diverse. The proportion of learners from minority ethnic communities has risen to 23%, higher than in the local population. The largest of these communities is of Nepali heritage with current or historic links to the Brigade of Ghurkhas. 4. In 2010/11 the majority of learners aged 16 to 18 came from schools where pupils’ performance at GCSE of five A* to C grades (including English and mathematics) was below the average for both Hampshire and England. 5. The college provides training on behalf of the following providers: * ReMIT (technical certificates for apprenticeships in automotive engineering) * Construction Industry Training Board (construction skills) * League Football Education (coaching awards). Type of provision Number of enrolled learners in 2010/11 Provision for young learners: 14 to 16 Further education (16 to18) Foundation Learning 363 part-time learners 1,727 full-time learners 70 part-time learners Provision for adult learners: Further education (19+) 250 full-time learners 1,405 part-time learners Employer provision: Train to Gain Apprenticeships 338 learners 601 apprentices Summary report Grades: 1 is outstanding; 2 is good; 3 is satisfactory; 4 is inadequate Overall effectiveness of provision Grade 1 Capacity to improve Grade 1 Grade Outcomes for learners 1 Quality of provision 1 Leadership and management 1 Safeguarding Equality and diversity 1 2 Subject Areas Health, social care and childcare 1 Engineering 2 Catering and hospitality 1 Art, design and media 2 Overall effectiveness 6. This is an outstanding college. Capacity to improve is excellent, as has been demonstrated by the college’s record of sustained and very significant increases in success rates for all learners and in its highly successful actions to tackle areas for improvement from the last inspection. Inspectors found individual tutorial provision, a key area for improvement in 2007, to be a core strength in contributing to outstanding outcomes for learners, with excellent management of learners’ progress and target-setting. Learners feel very safe in the college as a result of excellent arrangements for safeguarding. The college equips learners very well for their future careers. Their practical skills are good and often outstanding. The emphasis the college places on developing learners’ employability skills is shown in employers’ reflections on the high standards of work and professional conduct they find in the learners they employ. 7. The quality of provision is outstanding. Teaching and assessment are good. Lessons are well planned and include a broad range of activities that keep learners interested. Inspectors observed some outstanding lessons, showing that there are very high standards in teaching and learning to be shared, but found that in too many lessons teachers do not use the comprehensive group profiles available from initial assessment to plan learning activities to challenge the more capable learners to reach their full potential. Inspectors found there to be insufficient promotion of cultural diversity in lessons and progress reviews in work-based learning. 8. The Principal, staff and governors have shown great ambition for the college and its learners. Outstanding leadership and management, exemplified by rigorous quality assurance and self-assessment procedures, have driven up results and improved the quality of teaching and learning since the last inspection. Value for money is outstanding, as is evident from the college’s financial health and outstanding outcomes for learners. Main findings The college has been highly successful in bringing about sustained improvement in outcomes for learners, continuing the substantial increase in learners’ success that was evident at the last inspection. Success rates for learners aged 16 to 18 are particularly high. Learners develop good, and often outstanding, practical skills, and a sound grasp of the related underpinning theory. Learners are prepared well for the next step in their future careers, and the emphasis the college places on developing employability skills is valued highly by learners and employers alike. Learners make good progress from their starting points on entry to the college; however, data show inconsistency in learners’ progress across the range of subject areas. Learners engage actively in interesting activities in lessons and make good progress in their studies. Staff use information and learning technologies (ILT) very well to enhance learning. Learners appreciate the broad variety of materials on the virtual learning environment (VLE) that enable them to check and further develop their understanding. Comprehensive initial assessments are compiled into group profiles which help teachers arrange appropriate support, where necessary, to meet the needs of individuals. However, in too many lessons the planning of tasks to extend the learning of higher ability learners is insufficient. The lesson observation system is well organised and managed. Observers identify clearly the key strengths and weaknesses of lessons, and the college employs an effective support procedure for staff whose performance is less than good. Teachers do not promote an awareness of cultural diversity sufficiently in lessons and learner reviews and this is not picked up in observations routinely and systematically. The range of courses is very extensive, offering excellent progression routes from entry level through to advanced level and on to higher education. The college is highly responsive to local needs and uses local information well to plan sustainable provision. Provision for employers is broad and engagement with three local schools consortia is good. Partnerships and partnership working are outstanding in developing provision to meet learners’ needs. Employers speak very highly of the college and its commitment to enabling people to gain access to high-quality education and training. Community partners speak well of the community awareness developed in its learners. Tutorial support is at the heart of learners’ success. Inspectors acknowledge the key role that managing learners’ progress and target setting have made to the significant improvement in learners’ success rates. Group and individual tutorials make highly effective use of the ‘student organiser’. The college continues to make progress to improve further the consistency of tutorial practice: a key weakness identified at the last inspection. The Principal, staff and governors have shown great ambition and this is reflected in the sustained improvements over time. Governors provide very strong critical challenge and support for senior managers, with an unrelenting focus on ensuring that the college has sound financial health and learners are successful. The very strong culture of performance management, aligned with rigorous quality assurance and self-assessment procedures, has driven up results and improved the quality of teaching and learning since the last inspection. Learners feel very safe in the college and work safely. Arrangements for safeguarding are outstanding. Learners make a very valuable contribution to reviewing and improving arrangements through course evaluation and ‘learner voice’ arrangements. Staff treat the views of learners and employers very seriously and have exemplary arrangements for collecting and acting upon them. The financial health of the college is outstanding, as are the financial control and management systems. Resources are good and there is a high standard of accommodation and specialist resources. Value for money is outstanding.

Main findings

The college has been highly successful in bringing about sustained improvement in outcomes for learners, continuing the substantial increase in learners’ success that was evident at the last inspection. Success rates for learners aged 16 to 18 are particularly high. Learners develop good, and often outstanding, practical skills, and a sound grasp of the related underpinning theory. Learners are prepared well for the next step in their future careers, and the emphasis the college places on developing employability skills is valued highly by learners and employers alike. Learners make good progress from their starting points on entry to the college; however, data show inconsistency in learners’ progress across the range of subject areas. Learners engage actively in interesting activities in lessons and make good progress in their studies. Staff use information and learning technologies (ILT) very well to enhance learning. Learners appreciate the broad variety of materials on the virtual learning environment (VLE) that enable them to check and further develop their understanding. Comprehensive initial assessments are compiled into group profiles which help teachers arrange appropriate support, where necessary, to meet the needs of individuals. However, in too many lessons the planning of tasks to extend the learning of higher ability learners is insufficient. The lesson observation system is well organised and managed. Observers identify clearly the key strengths and weaknesses of lessons, and the college employs an effective support procedure for staff whose performance is less than good. Teachers do not promote an awareness of cultural diversity sufficiently in lessons and learner reviews and this is not picked up in observations routinely and systematically. The range of courses is very extensive, offering excellent progression routes from entry level through to advanced level and on to higher education. The college is highly responsive to local needs and uses local information well to plan sustainable provision. Provision for employers is broad and engagement with three local schools consortia is good. Partnerships and partnership working are outstanding in developing provision to meet learners’ needs. Employers speak very highly of the college and its commitment to enabling people to gain access to high-quality education and training. Community partners speak well of the community awareness developed in its learners. Tutorial support is at the heart of learners’ success. Inspectors acknowledge the key role that managing learners’ progress and target setting have made to the significant improvement in learners’ success rates. Group and individual tutorials make highly effective use of the ‘student organiser’. The college continues to make progress to improve further the consistency of tutorial practice: a key weakness identified at the last inspection. The Principal, staff and governors have shown great ambition and this is reflected in the sustained improvements over time. Governors provide very strong critical challenge and support for senior managers, with an unrelenting focus on ensuring that the college has sound financial health and learners are successful. The very strong culture of performance management, aligned with rigorous quality assurance and self-assessment procedures, has driven up results and improved the quality of teaching and learning since the last inspection. Learners feel very safe in the college and work safely. Arrangements for safeguarding are outstanding. Learners make a very valuable contribution to reviewing and improving arrangements through course evaluation and ‘learner voice’ arrangements. Staff treat the views of learners and employers very seriously and have exemplary arrangements for collecting and acting upon them. The financial health of the college is outstanding, as are the financial control and management systems. Resources are good and there is a high standard of accommodation and specialist resources. Value for money is outstanding.