Ofsted inspectors say Sussex Downs College ‘requires improvement’

MP Caroline Ansell with principal Mike Hopkins SUS-150510-120615001
MP Caroline Ansell with principal Mike Hopkins SUS-150510-120615001

Sussex Downs College has been told it ‘requires improvement’ in its latest Ofsted report released today (December 8).

Inspectors have criticised leaders and managers at the college, saying they have not sufficiently improved since the last report, and said the quality of the teaching does not meet all learners’ needs or provide the highest standards – especially in English and maths.

Sussex Downs College ENGSUS00120130213174417

Sussex Downs College ENGSUS00120130213174417

Four out of the nine categories the college is judged on required improvement – effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for learners and 16 to 19 study programmes – while the other five – personal development, behaviour and welfare, adult learning programmes, apprenticeships, provision for learners with high needs and overall effectiveness of previous inspection – were thought ‘good’.

Inspectors thought the college was strong in creating an inclusive culture where learners feel safe, looking after learners with high needs, giving careers information and craft-based and apprenticeship programmes.

Principal Mike Hopkins, who took up the post in September, said he was disappointed with the report but accepted the inspectors’ findings that improvements had to be made.

However, he said he was pleased with the positive recognition that staff and students had received in many areas, including apprenticeships, high needs and adult learning.

He added, “I fully accept the Ofsted findings and respect their judgement.

“All of the areas they identified feature prominently in our own self-assessment report. As principal, I take full responsibility for both the strengths and weaknesses presented in the report.

“I want to reassure my colleagues, students, parents, employers and stakeholders that our ambitions are to produce consistently great teaching and learning that the students deserve.

“Our aim is to become a sustainably excellent college over a period of time. We are not going to mechanistically prepare for Ofsted. With a combination of management focus and organisation, combined with staff flair, creativity and imagination, we are going to begin to redesign and reshape the College so that we meet our ambitions.

“The governors, staff and I are absolutely determined to ensure Sussex Downs College becomes the excellent college we know it can be. We are preparing to be great and will do our utmost to ensure that Ofsted is able to recognise that.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said she was ‘hopeful that the situation will improve at the college in the near future’.

She added, “I have met with Mr Hopkins, who is an experienced principal and full of energy and ideas to improve Sussex Downs.”

The college, which has campuses in Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven, will be inspected again in 12 to 24 months’ time.

The report has suggested that the college needs to clearly define the high standards it expects for teaching, learning and assessment, set targets which challenge students, improve teaching for GCSE maths and English, ensure consistently effective management practice and review and revise self-assessment arrangements for staff.

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