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Re – Inspection Declares Things Looking Up, But Room for Improvement Remains

The Queen Alexandra College was inspected in April 2004 and its re-inspection report was recently released.

Inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) carried out the inspection under Section 62 of the Learning and Skills Act. Overall, the quality of provision was found to be satisfactory or better in all areas inspected, except in Information and Communication Technology (ICT); literacy and numeracy and leadership and management which were found to be less than satisfactory.

Responsible for the Future

Ofsted is responsible for re-inspecting all provision that is less than satisfactory within two years of the original inspection. So, should inadequate areas of learning or aspects of provision remain inadequate following re-inspection, inspectors will continue to monitor progress at annual assessment visits. However, the areas will not be re-graded. They will be re-inspected during the full college inspection. The main features that emerge from the report are provided below.

Firstly, all students receive literacy and numeracy skills provision as part of their course. Students are entered for adult literacy and numeracy qualifications, key skills and a range of English Speaking Board qualifications. However, not all students attempt the qualifications. Secondly, there has been a reduction in the numbers of students taking literacy and numeracy qualifications, although the number taking English Speaking Board qualifications has increased.

Thirdly, the following strengths were found in delivering literacy and numeracy teaching: very good development of oral skills; good teaching of literacy for students with dyslexia; good use of learners” vocational programmes to develop literacy skills. Next, the following areas for improvement were found: under-developed links with the residential and extended curriculum; insufficient analysis of qualification data. There has been significant improvement in teaching and learning since the last inspection.

Contextual Learning

Literacy lessons focus on skills to be developed by using the context of the students” vocational programmes, which is increasingly being introduced in numeracy lessons too. In the good lessons, course assignments are well used to develop understanding of vocational language. In effective lessons the teaching is lively and students are engaged in their learning. Information technology (IT) is used well in many lessons, but the inspectors found there is scope to increase the IT resource base to support this area of learning.

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While the quality of teaching in numeracy has improved, it is not as consistently effective as seen in the literacy provision. Managers have set clear direction for the development of literacy and numeracy supported by a realignment of staff responsibilities. The iTQ programme has had high success rates for two years. The foundation level course also enjoys good success rates, with three quarters of learners gaining a distinction. College learners who took additional qualifications in ICT were all successful last year. Learners make good progress in lessons and participate well in group-work.

A Small Improvement

The re-inspection grade is 3, for ICT, while it was previously at grade 4. In terms of leadership and management, the re-inspection grade is also 3, while previously it was at grade 4. All teaching is now satisfactory or better. Lessons are well planned with clear methods and tasks to support learners” needs and develop skills. Learners are well motivated and work diligently in lessons. Teachers use an appropriate variety of learning methods with activities that engage the learners. Learning support assistants are used effectively in lessons.

The college has delivered training to support learners with autism as part of its wide ranging staff development programme. However, the college does not comply fully with its obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 or the Children Act (2004) and some staff require further training on these aspects.

In conclusion, the inspectors found that there was sound financial management and the college provides satisfactory value for money.

Sudakshina Mukherjee

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