Middlesbrough College has jumped from an Ofsted ‘requires improvement’ rating to ‘Good’ following a “huge” investment plan.
Inspectors have praised the further education college for a positive culture, high grades, employment outcomes and strong curriculum that meets the needs of Teesside.
Its quality of teaching and assessment had come under fire from the government department in 2016, with inspectors noting some of its young people – particularly A-level students – were not achieving the grades they were capable of.
The “effectiveness” of its management was also criticised.
In a turnaround for the college at Middlehaven , inspectors have highlighted well-qualified staff with industrial experience who deliver courses in well-equipped learning environments in their latest report, published on Monday.
It comes as the latest Department for Education statistics have shown Middlesbrough College was the highest performing Tees Valley college, with 97% of its students securing employment, an apprenticeship or moving on to university.
Principal and chief executive Zoe Lewis said: “There has been a huge investment plan, focusing not just on buildings and equipment but a lot of new staff.
“We brought in 100 people from apprentices to teachers and support people in areas of high skills shortages.
“From the moment of the last inspection, we were on a journey with teacher training, getting the staff trained.
“We’ve been building on that momentum.
“A lot of those building blocks were in place prior to the last inspection, but it was just too early to see the impact of that coming through.
“We were really pleased that Ofsted picked up our culture, they used phrases I’ve never seen in a report before such as ‘welcoming and harmonious environment’, ‘good behaviour’, ‘positive attitude’ – that’s what we see every day.”
Ofsted said students are “highly motivated” and enthusiastic with positive attitudes.
The report also emphasises Middlesbrough College’s culture and environment, describing it as caring and supportive with an ethos of raising aspirations.
Inspectors observed students were “eager to learn” and felt safe in college, valuing the support they received.
Students also benefit from a wide range of enrichment activities and compete successfully in regional and national skills competitions.
But they also said the College’s apprenticeship provision requires improvement.
Ms Lewis responded with: “Middlesbrough College remains in the top 30% of apprenticeship providers across the country and Ofsted has acknowledged the experienced and knowledgeable tutors we have.
“It points to the success of our apprentices in developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that meet the needs of their employers and most importantly, the fact that almost all apprentices remain in employment following their apprenticeship.
“However, we agree with Ofsted that nationally too few apprenticeships complete their programme due, often, to reasons associated with their employment.
“We are therefore committed to working with our employers to ensure our apprentices have the best possible chance of success of completing their programme in a timely manner and are committed to continually improving all of our provision including our apprenticeship provision. ”