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“Outstanding” – Ofsted verdict on provision for high needs learners

“Outstanding” – Ofsted verdict on provision for high needs learners

Learners with high needs at Hereward College receive ‘outstanding’ provision from highly ambitious staff focused on ensuring they achieve their very best.

That’s the hugely positive verdict of Ofsted inspectors in a report published today, which follows a four-day inspection in April.

The team of eight inspectors gave the highest possible grade for provision for learners with high needs, which make up the majority of the college’s 450 student cohort and all studying full-time, and its skills provision was rated ‘strong’ – also the top grade.

They praised the focus on meeting local skills needs with strong employer partnerships, supported internships and comprehensive support for learners which prepared them for sustained long-term employment.

The report said: “Leaders are highly ambitious for all their learners. They have a clear strategic vision to ensure that learners are supported to achieve their very best. Leaders place a particularly strong focus on life after college including meaningful and sustainable employment for learners.

“Leaders and managers work very closely and effectively with a broad range of stakeholders…to understand the skills and employment needs of their learners and the local and regional economies. They have tailored their curriculums specifically to meet those areas of skills need in which the college can make the most impact.

“Leaders actively partner with a significant number of employers in the development of curriculums across the college. They have built strong links with employers such as Premier Inn, Warwick Conferences, EVTEC, and a range of third sector organisations.

“They use these relationships effectively to tailor the curriculum to ensure that learners at all levels are given opportunities to engage in useful and meaningful skills development. As a result, learners develop work-ready skills…”

The college’s supported internship scheme drew specific praise: “Learners on supported internships participate in a highly ambitious programme. Teachers and job coaches structure internships to teach learners the knowledge and skills required to enable them to achieve employment opportunities and gain qualifications. Subsequently, interns become valued employees and progress to permanent roles with the employer at the end of their internship.”

The inspectors also praised the wrap-around support for high needs learners, including counsellors, therapists and coaches, bespoke curriculum and transition activities for independent or supported living and employment, adding: “Subsequently, a high proportion of learners who are able, progress into sustainable employment.”

The report also said that learners with high needs “participate enthusiastically in a wide range of work experience opportunities” and “develop high levels of confidence during their time in college and use this to great effect to support their peers”.

Governance was another area highlighted in the report, with governors described as “highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals in the education and finance sectors” with “a clear and in-depth understanding of the…curriculum and of the college”, while safeguarding was deemed effective.

Paul Cook MBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Hereward College (pictured), said he was delighted with the report:

“It is hugely rewarding that the dedication of staff and the determination of learners to achieve their very best has been recognised by the Ofsted inspection team.

“As the report says, the representation of learners with high needs in local, regional and national skills agendas is not yet sufficient and with the support of our regional employer and local government partners we are achieving superb outcomes – in particular through our supported internship programme.

“We will continue to work both regionally and nationally with employers and government to improve the education and employment prospects for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties.”

Hereward College, which has been supporting young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties for more than 50 years at its campus in Tile Hill, Coventry, has 313 high needs full-time learners aged 16 to 25 and also provides a range of online courses to 136 adult learners, who work in or aspire to work in the health and social care sector.

Each full-time learner has a bespoke curriculum with a dual goal of developing independence and employability skills. Subject areas include art & design, business, construction, horticulture, hospitality, ICT, media, music, performing arts and sport, as well as English and maths.

Facilities on the campus include a sports centre, performing arts studio, music centre, media centre, Premier Inn hotel training facility, the student run Well Bean Cafe, art studios and a horticulture area.

The inspection took place between April 25 and 28 and the report graded ‘provision for learners with high needs’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’ as outstanding and ‘skills’ as strong. All other categories including ‘overall effectiveness’ were graded good.

The full report can be found here.

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