7th December 2017

A report published following a recent Ofsted inspection grades South Devon College as a “good” provider of further education and training.

The inspectors positively recognised the locally focussed mission of South Devon College and particularly praised the “very effective partnerships with stakeholders including employers” which “prepare learners well for employment in the local area”. The College has a long and successful track record of developing curricula in partnership with local employers. In South Devon and Torbay, there is a growing hi-tech sector with a cluster of businesses employing more than 1,000 people. The College was recognised at the national Times Educational Supplement FE awards for this continued work and was announced the winner of the ‘Employer Engagement’ award earlier in 2017. Construction work on the College’s new Hi Tech and Digital Skills Centre will start at the Paignton campus in March 2018.

In the report, inspectors commented on the “extensive programme of activities which enriches learners’ time at the College by providing them with opportunities to pursue interests, take part in competitions and work-related activities locally, nationally and internationally”. South Devon College is delighted to celebrate student success across its wide curriculum offer. Recently, students have accomplished high levels of success in both international and national competitions. Ben Baber-Hale, Nikita Coombes and Joel Stoddard-Turvey won Fujitsu’s Operation Innovation and were flown as VIPs to Munich to present their innovative project to a worldwide audience at the Fujitsu Forum. The College is proud to support Health and Social care student Emily Bonner, who during the closing ceremony of The Skills Show 2017 was named as part of Team UK’s official WorldSkills squad training for the International finals in Kazan, 2019.

The College is further praised for the “strong and successful focus on progressing learners into higher education” and how “employers and College staff work together very effectively to coach and develop apprentices’ skills”.

The report states that the 14-16 provision ‘requires improvement’ following the Ofsted inspection. A spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed that Ofsted were unable to recognise the innovative curriculum that we offer, the exceptional feedback we receive from parents, and the excellent GCSE results which our pupils achieve. The Government’s new Progress 8 score measures the overall progress of pupils between the end of Primary School at age 11 and the end of Year 11 at age 16. Unfortunately, the report does not recognise either the fantastic progress which our pupils make in the 2-year period with us from 14-16 or their progress to excellent destinations in A Levels, vocational courses, and grammar school sixth forms.  The College continues to support the full time 14-16 provision, which is highly personalised with vocational options beyond what is traditionally offered in many schools.” Feedback from parents relating to pupils’ progression include; “Her confidence and grades have grown in huge amounts since joining”, “… never did I imagine she could have increased her scores this much, “progress is being made in all subjects” and “he has made fabulous progress, without a doubt the best decision ever made!”.

The report commends “the high proportion of learners who progress to higher education as a result of the work by managers to raise learners’ aspirations” to continue with their studies. The “wide range of higher education courses” delivered at University Centre South Devon for those learners who wish to study locally supports this.

Teaching and learning staff at South Devon College continue to share best practice on a national and international scale, with staff members presenting at conferences and workshops. Lynn Squire Section Head for Sport, Fitness and Adventure was recently invited to an event at the Palace of Westminster to share her expertise with MPs and stakeholders in the sport and fitness industry and Dr Andrea Gaion features in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine for his current research project on blue shark conservation.  In the summer of 2017, South Devon College received the prestigious Investors in People (IIP) Platinum accreditation, the highest level awarded by the people management standard, and was recognised as a finalist in the ‘Platinum Employer of the Year’ category at the recent Investors in People Awards. South Devon College is the only College in England to have achieved Platinum status and this prominent distinction confirms the College’s status as not just a leading further education college, but also as a top employer in the country, as it joins the top 7% of accredited organisations across the UK.

We look forward to sharing more good news in the New Year as the College’s work and ambitions for its students of all ages continues to inspire the local community.

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