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Rapid and significant progress for college group after Ofsted visit

Ofsted has judged that East Sussex College has made significant progress in improving teaching standards and practices over the past 12 months.

Inspectors visited the college on Wednesday 12th December to evaluate the progress that the Eastbourne and Lewes campuses had made since the last inspection in November 2017, when the, then Sussex Downs College, was judged as ‘requires improvement’.

Ofsted inspectors were impressed with the processes that the college leadership and management team had put in place to implement the recommendations from the last report.

The findings from the latest report highlighted that the college has made ‘significant progress’ in raising aspirations and ambition of its students. The report said:

“High aspirations and ambitions permeate every aspect of college life, from governors to students. Staff have a renewed sense of urgency and importance about improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and students’ and apprentices’ outcomes.”

Teaching practices have also rapidly improved and were judged to have made significant progress:

“Leaders observed all teaching staff in the first three weeks of the autumn term. Managers used the information they gained from this activity to help teachers to improve their practice rapidly. Teachers valued managers reviewing their teaching and spoke with enthusiasm to inspectors about the improvements they have made to their practice”.

Along with improvements in the quality of the teaching, students were encouraged to aspire to improve their grades and also benefiting from increased and more meaningful work experience opportunities outside the classroom:

“A very high proportion of students have completed a meaningful work experience placement or have firm plans in place to complete one before the end of the academic year. Students recognise and value the benefits they gain in developing their skills during work experience. They appreciate the links between their skills development at work and their learning back at college. This helps raise their aspirations and ambitions further.”

The management team have also led a positive cultural change at each campus, helping students gain confidence in, and understand the importance of improving their skills and achieving qualifications in English and maths:

“Vocational teachers and curriculum managers share the responsibility with the English and mathematics teams for making sure that their students and apprentices attend lessons for these subjects. Students can identify how the skills they have developed in English and/or mathematics lessons help them improve in their main programme of study.”

Inspectors also commented on the significant progress that the merged colleges have made to ensure students receive high-quality education and training:

“Governors, leaders and managers have worked highly effectively since the merger of the colleges to establish the identity of each campus and place each one at the heart of its local community. This has enabled each campus leader to develop a curriculum that meets local skills needs.”

Clive Cooke, CEO of East Sussex College said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the outcome of our latest monitoring visit and the findings show a fantastic amount of progress over a very short period of time.”

“We have invested a lot of effort in ensuring our students receive high-quality education, training, and work experience, and the results have shown that we have made significant progress in a number of areas, which could be expressed as ‘outstanding’ progress.”

“Despite facing significant funding cuts, we have improved and will continue to ensure our progress continues as we work towards achieving our vision of becoming the college of choice for the communities that we serve.”

“I’d like to give my personal thanks to all my colleagues who have worked so hard to enable us to make these measurable and rapid improvements and look forward to continuing this improvement in the months and years to come.”

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