Summary of Ofsted Inspections of Further Education Colleges

What we have learnt so far from Ofsted Inspection of Further Education Colleges

 Source: College Ofsted reports published between February to April 2016

We have taken a quick look at the grades and some key findings from FE College Ofsted reports published between February 2016 to April 2016.

In total there were 31 inspection reports published.

What type of inspections?

61% (19) were full inspections with only 23% (7) being short.

Have grades declined?

  • 37% (7) declined
  • 26% (5) improved
  • 26% (5) improved
  • 11% (2) not inspected before

 What is the overall grade profile?

48% (9) of the college full inspections were deemed good or better and when added to the college short inspections the overall result shows that 62% (16) of colleges inspected between February and April 2016 were deemed to be good or better.

Truro and Penwith College who had not been inspected before are worth a particular mention as they were judged ‘Outstanding’ overall.

What have we learnt about the importance of self-assessment and improvement planning ?

On review of the Ofsted reports with an overall effectiveness outcome of good.  Nearly all (71%) contain judgements linked to colleges having a good self-assessment and improvement planning process.  Some key ingredients being:

  • leaders, managers and staff had a good understanding of their provision, reports are detailed and accurate.
  • the process is inclusive.
  • most importantly improvement plans lead to improved provision for learners.

Alternatively, you are more likely to see inspectors highlighting a need to improve these processes in college reports where an overall effectiveness outcome of requiring improvement or inadequate has been given. Nearly all (90%) of the selected reports sampled raised some concerns.  In some cases:

  • leaders and managers had not ensured that all planned actions to secure improvement were implemented quickly.
  • not all staff in all areas were involved or self-assessment is insufficiently evaluative and did not identify accurately all areas for improvement.

While the Common Inspection Framework might have gone through its latest reincarnation, fundamentally, the key aspects of what is defined as good education have not really changed. We know that self-assessment reports:

  • are used by lead inspectors.
  • inspectors will draw on a provider’s assessment and quality improvement report for their pre-inspection analysis and during inspection.
  • inspectors will compare their findings with the provider’s self assessment.

This analysis indicates that an essential feature of ‘Good or better’ provision, is for colleges to have in place a robust model of self-assessment and improvement planning which is accurate, well structured, evidence rich and ultimately challenges staff to continuously improve.

You can download the full report here

For more information on the Mesma quality assurance platform go to


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