Spotlight - Achieving outstanding in Ofsted: our college’s approach

Elaine Dale, Director of SEND at City College Norwich, discusses her highlights from the college’s latest Ofsted report and how the college as a collective achieved this.

Over a number of years, we have been working consistently to grow, improve and maintain the standard of our provision. The education inspection framework enables us to focus on why we do what we do through the intent, implementation and impact of the college. Our college strategic framework also enables us to have high aspirations of ourselves and the community we serve.

Within the Additional Learning Support (LSA) team we have been working tirelessly on developing staff and their approaches to supporting students for their next steps and the impact of additional learning support. LSAs are able to confidently comment on the intent, implementation and impact of their support.

From planning ahead to learner outcomes, we have been ensuring this is reflected in every element of our work, and we are pleased this was reflected in the Ofsted report and grade. In their report, Ofsted said: “Students with high needs feel exceptionally well supported by their learning support assistants and teaching staff. They feel highly valued by staff, who understand precisely what their needs, goals and aspirations are. As a result, students blossom and develop absolute confidence in achieving their ambitious targets.”

At City College Norwich, we have been ensuring the depth and breadth of the curriculum meets the needs of the community, locally and nationally. We have also been collaborating and co-creating with employers to ensure the content meets industry standards.

Our supported interns and those learners who have accessed the college’s supported employment agency have had good outcomes this year, even during a pandemic. Staff and learners have sought opportunities during the pandemic and we have seen up to 70 per cent of learners gaining work, including six gaining an apprenticeship.

On employment and work opportunities, Ofsted commented: “The college leaders provide an ambitious curriculum that ensures high-quality training for students and apprentices, particularly those with high needs. Since the previous inspection, governors and leaders have overseen two successful mergers. During this time, they have continued to strengthen and develop a rich and well-resourced curriculum.”

Looking forward, we continue to look for areas of improvement in the quality assurance cycle, which never stands still. From the SEND reforms, we know the framework should be outcome-focused and has high expectations for independence and employment. We are also aware of needing a greater focus on transition, from school to Further Education (FE) and training and then into the community or employment. We are reflecting on the SEND reforms with the pending green paper.

Another area of focus for the college is to ensure we are developing the skills for learners to move into employment and to be independent. We have been developing our toolkits to facilitate this and prepare learners for their next steps.

I hope you will join me and consult on the reforms when these are released, as there is much we can say to help improve and build on current practice.

Please also keep a watchful eye on the Centres for Excellence in SEND area of the SEND site for resources, webinars and updates.

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