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By YouPR | Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 12:02

Weston College is celebrating this week after being awarded an overall 'Outstanding' grade by OFSTED, placing it among the highest-performing colleges in the country.

The grade one result in all four key areas of inspection means that Weston College is the first General FE College in the West of England to achieve such results under the new Common Framework Inspection (CIF).

And a further five 'Outstandings' in curriculum areas inspected have put the College among the top five highest-achieving Colleges in the UK.

A week-long visit just before the Christmas break saw inspectors rigorously scrutinise many aspects of College life, observing lessons and talking to managers, teaching and administration staff and students.

In their final report, published this Wednesday (Jan 22) they judged the College to be Outstanding in:

* Overall effectiveness

* Outcomes for learners

* Quality of teaching, learning and assessment

* Effectiveness of leadership and management

These relate to every area of the College's education programme, including 14-16 part-time and full-time provision, 16-19 study programmes, 19+ learning programmes and Apprenticeships.

OFSTED praised many curriculum areas, commenting particularly on the Outstanding provision in:

* Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy

* Sport

* Public Services

* Independent Living and Leisure

* Foundation English

Inspectors praised the College's teaching and learning, saying that students "benefit greatly from the culture of respect, hard work and enjoyment that permeates the College."

The report states: "The vast majority of learners successfully complete their courses, often achieving higher grades than expected when they started their courses."

Inspectors also singled out the College's management, saying: "The Principal, governors and leaders have provided outstanding strategic direction and vision, immensely improving the involvement of the College in the local community and with employers."

Particular praise was given to the College's support for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. "For many of them, attending college is a life-changing experience," the report said.

Weston's Foundation English course is the first such curriculum area in the UK to gain an 'Outstanding' under the new CIF, with Hairdressing and Beauty only the second.

The result in Foundation English was particularly impressive in the context of the Government's agenda to raise skills nationally in this subject.

Dr Paul Phillips, Principal and Chief Executive, said: "An Outstanding college is not created overnight. It is a major journey that involves a significant team of people, not only restricted to managers and governors but including the whole College, partnerships and communities.

"In my view we cannot have an Outstanding college without a leadership theory based on putting the learner first, and zero tolerance of under-performance."

John Penrose, Weston's MP, said: "As a long-term Governor and Associate Governor of the College, I'm totally thrilled by this amazing result. They just keep going from strength to strength. And now Ofsted have made it official by rating them as Outstanding, which makes them one of the best in the South West.

"Weston can be genuinely proud of its College. Congratulations to Paul Phillips, his dedicated staff and, most important of all, the students!"

Mike Jackson, Chief Executive of North Somerset Council, said: "The college is one of the council's key partners and has a big part to play in North Somerset's future. I would like to congratulate them on their outstanding achievement which is great news for anyone studying in the area."

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: "On behalf of all of us at North Somerset Council who work with Paul Phillips and his team, we are immensely proud of this excellent achievement that yet again underlines Weston College as an inspiration and a leader in its field."

Schools Minister David Laws, who visited Weston College last year, said: "I am delighted that Weston College been rated Outstanding by Ofsted. This is testament not only to the hard work and dedication of the staff but to the students' achievements.

"I saw first-hand the work they do to support students with learning difficulties last year so it's particularly pleasing to see that recognised as well.

"We are setting education providers challenging targets and Weston is showing that those challenges can be met."

Lord Baker, the former Education Secretary in Margaret Thatcher's government of the 1980s, was visiting the College this week. He said: "I was delighted to hear that Weston College's hard work has been rated by OFSTED as outstanding. This is good news not just for the College and its students, but for many parts of the West Country."

Heather Haliburton's son Daniel attended Weston College, studying Public Services, and last year won a Principal's Award for his outstanding contribution to College life. Heather, of Portishead, said: "Weston College fully deserves to be graded Outstanding. Daniel is dyslexic and the support he received from College staff was second to none. It was the best place he could have attended and he did very well."

Fabiola Mimba, 19, of Weston-super-Mare, is currently studying Health and Social Care (Level 3) at Weston College. She said: "I can't speak highly enough of Weston College. I didn't achieve good GCSEs but, since coming to the College, my grades and prospects have improved so much. Thanks to the amazing support and guidance I've receive from tutors, I have been able to get a part-time job related to my course and secure a place at university."

Dr Phillips concluded: "I was told by one of the OFSTED inspectors that if what we do here at Weston College could be bottled up and sold, every College in the UK would get an Outstanding. I'd like to take the opportunity of thanking everyone who took us to where we always knew we should be."

Weston College Chair of Governors Jude Ferguson commented that the College had had a dynamic transformation over the last 10 years under the leadership of Dr. Paul Phillips. She wanted to thank everyone who had contributed to this massive achievement.



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