College group rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors

Worthing College has received ‘outstanding’ grades in every area of Ofsted’s recently reformed inspection framework.

Worthing college students at work
Worthing college students at work

The report was a glowing endorsement of the Chichester College Group (CCG) – which includes Brinsbury College, Chichester College, Crawley College and Worthing College – which stated ‘learners are rightly very proud of their college’. It is only the second general further education provider in England to achieve unanimous top grades since the new framework was introduced and is the largest college group to achieve ‘outstanding’ in every area.

Paul Riley, principal of Worthing College and Haywards Heath College, said: “To be rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in every area is a great testimony of our hard-working staff and students.

“The fantastic experience students enjoy at Worthing College, and all of the colleges within CCG, is thanks to the determination and professionalism of our staff.

Worthing college students at work

“They work extremely hard to support our students and to help them continually excel in their studies.

“We continue to invest our attention into ensuring our students receive the very best education that we can deliver, and we look forward to demonstrating this when we open Haywards Heath College in September.”

Shelagh Legrave OBE, chief executive of CCG, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with our ‘outstanding’ Ofsted result. Our ambition has been to ensure our colleges provide students with the best education and training possible. Now, less than three years after our first merger, Ofsted has recognised us as an ‘outstanding’ group of colleges in all graded areas, which is a phenomenal achievement and a true testament to the hard work, dedication and talent of all of our staff and students. We hope everyone connected with all of our colleges will join us in celebrating this success.”

This was the first full Ofsted inspection since CCG formed in 2017 and inspectors commended the way in which the leadership team managed the two mergers with Crawley College in 2017 and Worthing College in 2019, highlighting the ‘strong collaborative culture between the campuses.’

It means that both Crawley College and Worthing College have improved upon their previous inspections, which were prior to the respective mergers. Crawley – inspected as Central Sussex College in October, 2016 – had been judged as ‘requires improvement’, while Worthing received a ‘good’ grade in February, 2016.

Dr James Sarmecanic, chair of the corporation at CCG, said: “This report is the result of a fantastic team effort, led by Shelagh, Andrew Green [Executive Principal] and our college principals – Vicki Illingworth, Paul Riley and Sally Challis-Manning.

“It places CCG’s standing at the forefront of the further education sector, particularly among college groups.

“I am proud of the entire team of CCG staff across all four – soon to be five – colleges. They work extremely hard and demonstrate great dedication to give our students the best opportunities possible.”

Inspectors particularly highlighted the group’s apprenticeship programmes, noting the collaborative relationship between the group and employers to ‘research and design appropriate courses’ to ensure apprentices and students are learning industry best practice.

They also paid tribute to the ‘positive impact apprentices’ news skills and knowledge have on their workplace’, while celebrating the excellent outcomes for apprentices, who ‘frequently use their improved knowledge and skills to secure promotion’.

Ofsted praised the dedication shown by lecturers, saying students ‘cherish the passion and subject expertise of their teachers’ and made special mention of the group’s provision for learners with additional needs. Career advice and guidance at the group’s colleges also received equally glowing praise from inspectors, who visited the four sites from March 3 to 6.

Exexutive principal Mr Green said: “Our report is full of praise for our staff, students, apprentices and employers. I am incredibly proud of the team – this is a phenomenal achievement by each and every one of them.

“Six years ago, Chichester and Brinsbury were both rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – we always knew maintaining that standard would be one of our biggest challenges, but it was one I was always confident we would achieve.

“We’ve seen a period of great change and expansion, joining first with Crawley College and, more recently, Worthing College. Through it all our mission statement, to ‘Change Lives Through Learning’, has stood strong, embodied every day by our staff.

“They are outstanding and because of them, we – as a college group – have been officially rated as ‘outstanding’. It is an incredible feeling and something our community as a whole should be proud of.”

In a joint statement, student presidents Sophie Sargent, Ria Voice and Philip Pasby added: “We’re so proud of our Ofsted result. Students are the heart of all of our colleges and the leadership of the group prioritises the student voice. It really is central to everything the group does.

“It’s why we’re so passionate about our colleges and we’re really happy to see Ofsted confirm what we – as student presidents – have always felt. We are ‘outstanding’!”

The Chichester College Group (CCG) is the largest college group in Sussex. Through its colleges, it educates and trains more than 20,000 full and part-time students every year.

CCG covers four main sites, Chichester College, Crawley College, Brinsbury College and Worthing College, with a fifth – Haywards Heath College – opening in September 2020.

It also has an extensive portfolio of commercial businesses which operate alongside the colleges, including a chain of childcare nurseries (First Steps Childcare), Anglia Examinations and Chichester English Language School, as well as sports and conferencing facilities.

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