London South East Colleges has been praised by Ofsted, with inspectors judging it to be a ‘Good’ College with outstanding features.
The inspection comes two and a half years after the College was formed, following the country’s first three-way merger of Bromley College with Bexley College and Greenwich Community College in August 2016.
Greenwich Community College was rated Inadequate and at risk of closure at this time, so Bromley College was invited by the Department for Education to take over its running. With invaluable support from the local authorities in Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich, London South East Colleges was created, strengthening educational provision across the entire region.
The inspectors stated that ‘senior leaders and governors have managed the merger successfully, and raised standards across the college.’ They added: ‘As a result of receiving good quality education and training, learners improve their chances of progressing to the next level of their education, or into the world of work.'
Each College campus was inspected, with each receiving praise for teaching, learning, safeguarding and effective leadership. Inspectors were particularly impressed with the College’s Nido Volans Centre, awarding an outstanding judgement to this Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision area.
Inspectors noted the students’ ‘good behaviour and high levels of respect’ across every campus. The wide range of enrichment opportunities on offer, including the College’s Career Advantage programme, was highlighted, as was the wide range of relevant work-related activities that ‘help learners to develop good employment skills.’
Teachers in all subject areas were praised for ‘having high expectations’ of students and ‘motivating them to make good progress’ - leading to a high proportion of learners achieving their qualifications. ‘Highly effective’ careers advice was also highlighted by the inspectors, noting that learners receive ‘good preparation for their next steps and move on to further levels of study or employment.’
The College’s strong links with employers were praised and inspectors agreed that ‘leaders and managers make very good use of their employer and community links to help shape the curriculum and benefit learners.’
Principal and CEO of London South East Colleges, Sam Parrett OBE, says: “We are absolutely delighted that the hard work and dedication of our staff and students has been recognised by Ofsted.
“In 2016 we undertook the mammoth task of merging three colleges together to create London South East Colleges – one of which was a failing college and had never achieved a good Ofsted rating in its entire history. We have raised standards across the board at all our campuses, ensuring that all students are supported to achieve to their full potential.
“We have worked closely with our extremely supportive Local Authorities - which has led to a very strong union and enabled us to improve educational provision across the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich.
“Our team has worked tirelessly to support each college and bring them together as one successful organisation. By sharing best practice and putting a focus on improved teaching and learning, we have improved the learning outcomes of all our students.
“Strong financial planning has also enabled us to expand the courses we run, upgrade our industry-standard facilities and strengthen our relationship with employers across the region and beyond. Our strategy going forward includes a number of exciting development including a new Aerospace and Technology College at London Biggin Hill Airport. The report highlights these pioneering projects, noting our clear emphasis on job progression and career opportunities for learners.
“We are proud of how far we have come but will continue to on our journey to become an outstanding college – providing career pathways for people of all ages, interests and abilities while helping employers to meet their skills needs.”
Stephen Howlett CBE, DL, Chair of London South East Colleges, adds: “Ofsted’s Good judgement of London South East Colleges is testament to the incredible hard work, vision and expertise of the senior leadership team and all our staff. Taking one college from a grade 4 to Good is a huge achievement in itself – but to take on two colleges and support them to become Good providers in less than three years is remarkable.
“As a result, we are now offering more qualifications and courses across the region - ensuring that people have better access to education and the opportunity to improve their skills. Good education provision is interwoven with social mobility and London South East Colleges is working at the heart of all its communities to support this.
“Our students are ambitious, hardworking and enthusiastic - which is exactly what you need to be in order to succeed. I am delighted to be part of such a successful and forward-thinking organisation and I look forward to seeing the College continue on this trajectory of success.”
Cllr Denise Hyland, Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills & Apprenticeships, Royal Borough of Greenwich, says: "This is fantastic news for London South East Colleges and I am delighted with the inspection outcome. The council has been on the journey with the College since its merger in 2016 and seen at first-hand the energy, drive and commitment that has gone in to turning around the fortunes of FE in the borough.
"Our residents now have access to good to outstanding education thanks to the leadership and management of the Principal, her senior teams, governors, staff and partners. We are proud to see this recognised and look forward to continuing our partnership, building on this success."
The team of inspectors visited the College from Tuesday19 to Friday 22 March. Please click here to read the full report.