From education to employment

Arts University Plymouth’s Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus rated Ofsted ‘Good’

Inspectors praise the “excellent” behaviour of students and highlight the benefits for sixth formers of being linked closely to an arts university

Arts University Plymouth’s Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus has been awarded a ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted, maintaining the rating that was also given in inspections in 2007, 2013 and 2017. An overall rating of ‘Good’ was given for every category of the 2023 inspection, including the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, education programmes for young people, and provision for learners with high needs.

Arts University Plymouth offers a dedicated Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus where young people can develop their unique perspective, meet like-minded people and gain the sought-after skills and UCAS points necessary to progress onto university study or roles within international creative industries. Palace Court and Palace Studios campus, situated between Plymouth Barbican and seafront and the Barcode, are home to nearly 400 students specialising in A-Level-equivalent UAL Level 3 Extended Diplomas across a range of pathways and the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. 

Ofsted inspectors praised Arts University Plymouth for the way that “Students enjoy their courses. They are supported well by staff who help them to build their confidence and resilience.”

The benefits of joining a sixth-form campus attached to the city’s arts university were highlighted in the Ofsted report, which says that “Teachers give students opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge by accessing the university’s higher education art and design resources. For example, students strengthen their model-making skills by using three-dimensional printing technologies and more advanced computer-aided design software.”

Inclusivity and acceptance levels at Arts University Plymouth were singled out by inspectors, who stated that “Students’ behaviour is excellent. They are respectful towards staff and each other… Students feel safe at Arts University Plymouth. They value the calm and friendly community that staff have created.”

It was also noted in the report that “Leaders ensure a safe environment where students are supported to explore their identities as part of the respectful and kind university community. Students are positive about the inclusive community of the university. They value how staff and other students celebrate differences and individuality… students comment positively about how the university takes diversity seriously.”

Achievement levels for Pre-Degree & Sixth Form students at Arts University Plymouth are high, with inspectors noting that “Leaders ensure that well-planned curriculums result in the large majority of students achieving their qualifications. Nearly all of those who apply to higher education achieve their first-choice destination.”

Last year 36% of Arts University Plymouth UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma students obtained a Distinction, which is equivalent to 3 A*s at A-level or 168 UCAS points. This is significantly higher than the national benchmark of 16%.

The inspection team paid particular attention to the achievements of students with high needs in the Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus, stating that “Teachers ensure that curriculums are planned well for those students with high needs. They collaborate effectively with special educational needs staff to agree on adjustments to, and strategies for, their teaching. Consequently, students with high needs reach their potential.”

Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth, said:

“I’m delighted to see Arts University Plymouth once again recognised for the high quality provision offered in our Pre-Degree & Sixth Form Campus. The Ofsted report will help parents in the region to see the unique value that our Pre-Degree and Sixth Form offers and the inspectors have also given us valuable feedback to continue enhancing our Pre-Degree provision. Thanks to all of my colleagues who have contributed to this major process, for everything that you’ve done between our last inspection in 2017 and now.”

Steven Forsyth, Head of Pre-Degree at Arts University Plymouth, said:

“I’m proud of the hard work, commitment and dedication of all of our staff and students in helping us to achieve this outcome. Arts University Plymouth’s Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus is unique within the region and a rare example of dedicated creative sixth form attached to an arts university in the UK.

“Given the differences between us and the majority of sixth forms that Ofsted visit, I’m thrilled that the inspectors were so clearly able to see what’s special about the way that we teach, the value for sixth students of working closely with a university, and the extra effort that we’ve put in since the pandemic to ensure that students feel safe, welcome and able to achieve their goals.”

There are still a limited number of spaces available to study in Arts University Plymouth’s Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus starting in September 2023 for school leavers who are waiting to receive their GCSE results. Courses include UAL Level 3 Extended Diplomas in Art & Design, Photography, Fashion & Textiles, Filmmaking & Media Production, and Graphic, Illustration & Game Arts, as well as the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, which is ideal for applicants who want to discover, experiment and explore across a wide range of disciplines, as well as maximising their chances of gaining a First if they decide to progress on to degree-level study.

Related Articles