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John Dallison from Newcastle College on Inspections, Leadership and FE Excellence

Tribal Technology have a significant role to play in the FE sector, and amongst the colleges that they work with is Newcastle College. We at FE News are very grateful to John Dallison, Principal, Planning and Strategy, for agreeing to answer some questions.

Q: What does the Ofsted Inspection involve?

A: “Ofsted assess colleges and other providers against the common inspection framework which focuses on seven key questions. The first question is “how well do learners achieve?” Good data and clear understanding of data is essential in addressing this question, and more importantly, it is essential in tracking historic performance and putting in place measures and interventions for improvement.”

Q: How has the inspection helped to achieve the college’s objectives?

A: “More learners than ever now enrol at the college. We have local national and regional standing. We are able to influence policy locally and we have been able to capitalise on our reputation through securing additional funding. We have successfully bid for significant Prison Education contracts starting this August.”

Q: How have students/staff benefited from the report/data?

A: “Students benefit by through sharper focus placed on performance in the classroom that contributes to learner success. Staff benefit from the general feel good and positive aurora that being part of a high performing college brings.”

Q: How has John Dallison, Vice Principal, Planning and Strategy, contributed to the improvements at the college?

A: “I have been instrumental in setting up systems and processes to collect and manage data through student record systems and in my role as Vice Principal I am responsible for the business planning and performance monitoring process that have made the difference in terms of the management and provision.”

Q: What impact has the inspection had on the college as a whole and how effective do you think these inspections are?

A: “Achieving an excellent inspection is a long term objective and we have set out to achieve Beacon status 4 years prior to the event. The positive was a positive learning experience and all who took part were glad to have been involved. It made a real difference to the college, staff and students grew taller as a result.

“We were looking for a system to bring together all of data processes associated with students and learning. After a thorough review of available systems, Tribal Technology’s (formerly FD Learning’s) ebs including e-financials was purchased and rolled out during the hectic summer of 2000. It was installed on two substantial Compaq Alpha Servers and the network was upgraded to all key sites and buildings. A high speed robust infrastructure was essential in bringing management information systems to the desk-top. Managers need up-to-date readily available data to manage their business.”

Q: Tell us a bit about the inspection award you received in May 2004 (Leadership/Management)

A: “Leadership and Management is effective if learners are achieving and the organisation is improving. The award acknowledged the progress made over the last few years. In addition, Jackie Fisher our principal and CEO has recently received a CBE in recognition of her services to education.”

Q: Do you think the Ofsted inspection can help other colleges achieve the same results as Newcastle College?

A: “Yes-all colleges can learn from our experience, but it is mostly down to common sense, hard work and determination. Know your business, define where you want to be, measure how well you are doing, find out what is not working, and put in place changes for improvement. Chip away at the worst and standards will rise.”

Q: What are the college’s plans/goals for the future?

A: “We are not content. We have the new prison contracts and we are introducing Business Excellence as our own internal quality standards.”

Once again, we would like to thank Tribal Technology for cooperating with us in this article, and wish them all the best for the future.

Kavita Trivedi

What value do you find in Ofsted? Tell us in the FE Blog

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