With a clean sweep across the board, Tyne Metropolitan College and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College achieved a rating of ‘Good’, Grade 2, for all four key areas of their recent Ofsted inspection, including: overall effectiveness; outcomes for learners; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; and effectiveness of leadership and management.

Matching the best in the region with its rising academic standards, TyneMet College wowed inspectors with a tireless focus on improving the student experience, raising students aspirations and delivering consistently good teaching, learning and assessment.

The four-day visit saw inspectors rigorously scrutinise many aspects of college life, observing lessons and talking to students, parents, employers, teachers, managers and support staff.

Inspectors, who conducted the Colleges’ inspection from13-16 May 2014, were specifically impressed with the increase in students’ success rates, which are particularly high on the large majority of programmes of study, and praised the organisation’s ongoing commitment and drive to improve the quality of teaching, not least through outstanding partnerships helping to drive the College forward.

Ofsted were extremely impressed with the outstanding range of partnerships forged by the College, enabling the development and delivery of a wide range of programmes that meet local business and community needs well. Good examples of some well-established partnership working include high profile engineering companies such as Siemens and Rolls-Royce North East Training, whose partnership with the College have successfully opened up excellent work experience and employment opportunities for TyneMet students. These successful collaborations are further endorsed by the College’s array of accreditations, including STEM Assured status gained in 2012, cementing TyneMet’s lead in local STEM activities and expertise.

Ofsted officials commented that the College is continuing its journey towards ‘Outstanding’, with clear improvements in teaching and learning since the last inspection.

They stated that the College has been successful in ensuring students make good progress with their learning whilst improving vocational, personal, social and employability skills well.

Inspectors commented that all students benefit from very effective support in and out of lessons and could clearly see the promotion of high ambition and aspiration for all staff and students.

As a result of very good initial advice and guidance, students and apprentices are placed on the most appropriate learning programmes, helping them to achieve their personal and career aspirations.

The main findings include:

  • Students’ success rates have increased and are high on the large majority of programmes of study at both TyneMet College and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form
  • Students and apprentices improve their vocational, personal, social and employability skills well
  • All students benefit from very effective support in and out of lessons
  • Students and apprentices apply themselves well and enjoy their learning
  • A good proportion of students on foundation and intermediate study programmes progress to higher-level programmes at the college
  • A high proportion that complete A Level and advanced vocational study programmes move on to university, higher education or employment
  • Teachers have high expectations of their students, providing very good care and support in and out of the classroom
  • Students receive very good advice and guidance before they enrol, and during their study programme
  • Students and parents value the comprehensive range of additional help
  • Teachers are dual professionals and good role models for students, using their occupational experience and skills well to relate theory to practice
  • Students receive good support when transferring from school at the start of their study programme and onto higher education, apprenticeships and employment after college

The report also identified exceptional elements of the College’s dynamic range of qualifications, benefitting students, the local community and employers alike:

  • An outstanding range of partnerships enables the college to develop and deliver programmes that meet local business and community needs well
  • The college has a broad and appropriate range of learning programmes that meet the diverse needs and interests of students, local employers and the wider community
  • Well-qualified and experienced trainers communicate high expectations to apprentices, which motivates them to produce good standards of work. Trainers plan learning activities appropriately to meet the needs of individual apprentices
  • Trainers provide effective support to ensure that apprentices stay and succeed
  • Employers are increasingly positive about their relationship with the college and its responsiveness to their requirements
  • Managers have aligned the strategic plan very well to local, regional and national priorities with Governors playing a key role in the direction of the college by bringing a depth of understanding about the region, its emerging economy and local community need to the board
  • The college provides particularly strong leadership in the development of STEM in the region resulting in extremely productive relationships with a number of local and national companies
  • The college’s curriculum is increasingly being shaped by STEM, enabling students to acquire excellent employability skills to work in the emerging local economy

This report follows an exceptional few years for the College, during which they achieved national status as one of the first colleges in the North of England to have achieved STEM Assured accreditation recognising their excellence in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, alongside the Better Health at Work Continuing Excellence award, Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society and IIP Silver status from Investors In People.

In addition, TyneMet was very proud to gain a number of unrivalled sporting accolades such as gaining the top spot as the region’s best sport college from British College Sport for the second year running.

The College’s sporting prowess was also noted by Ofsted inspectors who highlighted teachers’ good subject knowledge and expertise, which they use with great enthusiasm to motivate and engage students both inside and outside of the classroom with a valued enrichment programme. They also commented that students enjoy studying at college, work well independently and in teams, developing good levels of concentration, engagement and application.

Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College in North Shields was also highlighted as a significant area of success with particularly high success rates for students aged 16-18  across a wide range of AS and A Level subjects. Also praised was Queen Alexandra’s outstanding collaboration with three local schools, John Spence, Marden and Norham High Schools, resulting in increasing numbers of students choosing STEM subjects.

Principal and Chief Executive, Jon Vincent, proudly comments:

“This report is a fitting end to a year of awards and accolades for our students and staff. Among an array of very positive comments in the report, we were particularly delighted that the inspectors recognised the high quality of guidance and support that is provided to our students and that they recognised the wide range of activities and programmes designed to meet the needs of local business and the community.

“This is testament to the efforts of the team across the College to continuously improve and create for our students and local community a centre of excellence to support the local economy and their aspirations.”

Chair of Governors, Bill Midgley OBE, adds:

“In awarding this grade, Ofsted are confirming that not only are TyneMet students performing exceptionally well, but that our teachers and staff are delivering excellent learning and support that propels our students in their careers, into jobs or onto higher education courses such as degrees.

“We want to give Tyneside’s people and employers access to an exceptional college experience, improving the aspirations, better skills provision, opportunities and economic prospects for all.”

To read the full Ofsted report, visit our website at www.tynemet.ac.uk/ofsted