Much work still to be done to improve Sussex Downs College in Lewes

Sussex Downs College, poor ofsted report
Sussex Downs College, poor ofsted report
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Sussex Downs College, which has one of its main campuses in Lewes, has been criticised in its latest Ofsted report which says improvements are required.

The Learning and Skills inspection said that too many learners do not make the progress they are capable of. Teachers’ expectations of learners are not always sufficiently aspirational.

Improvement was also required because too many learners do not succeed on courses to develop their English and mathematics. The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is not consistently good enough and varies too much between subject areas. Teaching is often ineffective in helping learners achieve their maximum potential.

The take-up of additional support varies across the college and this provision is not always effective, said the report, while provision in humanities and social sciences is inadequate.

The Ofsted inspectors continued: “Curriculum management is not sufficiently effective in bringing about sustained improvement in all areas of the college.

“Collaboration across the college is underdeveloped and this limits the sharing of good practice. The promotion of equality and diversity in the curriculum is insufficient in a minority of areas of the college.”

Sussex Downs College Principal Melanie Hunt said she was pleased with the recognition that teaching staff and students had received from many quarters, but accepted that the Ofsted report demonstrated that there was “still much work to be done”. She said: “The Ofsted inspectors outlined seven areas for us to focus on, and we accept their findings. Indeed, we had already identified these key challenges in our annual Self-Assessment Report.

“Our work in these areas is a priority and will continue through the rest of the academic year and into 2013/14.” She added: “We must continue to equip our students with the tools they need for a successful and worthwhile career.”

The Ofsted report gives an overall Grade 3 – requires improvement – and follows a new inspection regime that is delivering lower grades around the country, said the college in a press release.

It said the education press has pointed out that in the past two years Ofsted had “moved the goalposts”; most general further education colleges have seen grades drop and only one college has achieved an outstanding grade for teaching and learning under the new inspection framework.

Inspectors sampled teaching across the curriculum and identified provision in visual and performing arts, sports and English for speakers of other languages as good. They recognised the enthusiasm and qualifications of teachers and their high expectations of students.