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LIPA Sixth Form College achieves best possible Ofsted

LIPA Sixth Form College (LSFC) has been rated as ‘outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted, just two-and-a-half years after it opened.

The inspection, LSFC’s first, took place over three days at the end of February. It achieved the highest possible rating for effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; outcomes for students; 16 to 19 study programmes and overall effectiveness.

The inspection judgements observe that there is “a culture in which staff model high industry expectations and standards within a very caring and supportive environment. Students work diligently and collaboratively to achieve the high standards their tutors set. They make excellent progress and achieve their qualifications. As a result, the large majority move on to prestigious higher education institutions.”

LSFC is a specialist college for 16-19-year olds, focusing exclusively on the creative and performing arts. Sponsored and managed by the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), it opened in September 2016 to its first intake of 190 students who studied acting, dance, music, sound technology and technical theatre.

Director of LIPA Sixth Form College, Charles Bartholomew, said:

“We are thrilled with the result of our inspection, especially given that it’s our first inspection. The college has an amazing team of staff, who demonstrate a passion for performing arts education and a deep commitment to support our students to achieve. The college also embodies the unique ethos of LIPA, with a focus on professionalism and project-based learning. Our students impressed the inspection team not only with their high standards, but also with their engagement with the local community.”

LIPA Sixth Form College is one of just a handful of further education providers in England that specialises in the performing and creative arts and the only one of its kind in the North West.

Parent Governor Ree Hopkinson McNay commented:

“Over the past 18 months as a parent and Parent Governor, I have witnessed the hard work, commitment and dedication of both students and staff at LSFC and it is awe-inspiring! Liverpool has a rich heritage in the arts and LSFC is the perfect educational home for nurturing future generations of performing artists and technicians in the city. LSFC is an amazing place to study – it is the passport to a great future for everyone who studies there. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that your child is studying at one of the highest graded sixth form colleges in England.”

LSFC continues to expand and has just launched a Musical Theatre course, which will have its first intake of students in September.

Mark Featherstone-Witty, Founder of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Learning Group, commented:

“We were determined to provide a learning legacy for our city. The college, following LIPA HE and our primary school, is the third of what we want to be a joined-up journey from four to 24, so we have high hopes for our current High School bid.”

The summary of key findings from the report include the following:

  • Governors have created a culture in which staff have very high expectations. Consequently, students aspire to reach exceptionally high standards in their written work and practical skills.
  • Leaders and managers have developed a well-planned project-based study programme in which students develop excellent creative skills. Students strongly develop their resilience, which prepares them exceptionally well for work within the performing arts industry.
  • Students benefit from consistently high-quality teaching from dedicated, inspirational and experienced tutors.
  • Tutors are highly adept at helping students improve their English and mathematics skills.
  • Students benefit significantly from an extensive range of additional activities, including masterclasses with high-profile professional musicians, actors, directors and dancers. They frequently participate in live performances across the city and in national competitions.
  • Staff have created an exceptionally positive and inclusive learning environment in which all students thrive and grow in confidence and ability.
  • Almost all students achieve their qualifications, and many achieve merit and distinction grades.
  • Students receive outstanding impartial careers advice and guidance which help them make aspirational but well-informed choices about their next steps.
  • The large majority of students who complete their study programme move on to higher education courses in conservatoires, prestigious dance and drama colleges and elite universities.

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