Following an Ofsted inspection that was carried out in May, governors, staff and students at Northumberland College are celebrating Ofsted's official findings, which praise the college for its clear vision to deliver high quality learning and its findings confirm the college as one of the best in the region.
The College was judged to be good by Ofsted in 2013, so this latest review by the government's Office for Standards in Education was a short inspection.
Ofsted's inspection feedback states:
Leaders and governors have a clear vision, underpinned by clearly defined strategies for Northumberland Collee to deliver high-quality learning programmes that meet the diverse needs of Northumberland's communities and employers.
Leaders and staff at Northumberland College reinforce effectively the importance to learners of developing good work-related skills and attitudes. As well as carrying out work experience placements, learners on 16 to 19 study programmes benefit from many good realistic working environments at the college.
Leaders and governors are ambitious for Northumberland College to provide high-quality education and training that enables learners, to achieve and progress to further learning or employment.
Governors, the principal and other leaders have successfully established a culture of high expectations for staff and for what learners can achieve.
The quality of provision and outcomes for learners on programmes in arts, media and publishing are outstanding
Art - A very high proportion of learners join higher education courses, many at prestigious universities.
Learners receive good advice about the learning and course options available to them based on their planned next steps in learning and their career ambition.
The feedback also praises progress at the College to support those 16 to 19 year-olds who have not already achieved GCSEs at grades A* to C in English and/or maths to improve their grades in those subjects.
Northumberland College has two main campus sites; Ashington provides a wide range of vocational courses from construction and engineering to arts, the creative industries and hair and beauty, while Kirkley Hall is the college's land-based campus where students have access to two commercially run farms, an equine centre and zoological gardens with over 200 species. The College also has centres at Berwick and Hexham.
Jacqui Henderson, Chair of Governors, said: "Northumberland College has much to be proud of and this result is testament to staff commitment and the hard work of our students.
"We have established many partnerships with leading employers so that we continue to ensure training is wholly relevant today."
Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive, said: "Colleges need to be responsive to remain current. With increased expectation from all of our stakeholders, we continue to develop methods that ensure our quality training courses are relevant to the needs of today. This positive Ofsted result recognises the work of all our teams and our student successes.
Marcus continues: "In recognising student's employability and ambitions, we have developed the Passport to Employment scheme. This aims to support student's to develop skills that help them to be work-ready. We continue to invest in industry standard training environments and support students with communication, teamwork and other work related skills. We also align our provision with local economic needs."
Northumberland College has undergone investment of over £10million since 2013 to provide modern and realistic training environments within hair and beauty, hospitality, construction, engineering, renewables and technology.
In addition a £2.5m state-of-the-art centre for science, engineering and digital creative industries will open this September. This aims to address the government's STEM agenda and support the North East Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP) Strategic Economic Plan that aims to deliver over one million jobs by 2024, with STEM qualification take-up amongst young people being a key priority. The North East has growth opportunities and research assets within life science, combined with opportunities within data, software and cyber security, plus engineering and manufacturing.
Further improvement plans at the College include an all new £1.2m equestrian centre at Kirkley Hall that will modernise the existing and popular facility.
The College now offers over 30 higher education qualifications ranging from HNC to Degree level, working in partnership with leading universities.
The College secured a £4.9m ESF contract to help North East businesses identify future skills needs and address current skills gaps within SME organisations earlier in the year.
The College offers a broad range of provision including FE full-time courses for 16 to 18s, Apprenticeships, Northumberland Career College for 14 to 19s, full and part-time courses for 19+ students, five day supported provision for those with additional learning needs through its Foundation Academy, a range of HE courses and bespoke training for employers.
Anyone wishing to find out more about Northumberland College should visit www.northumberland.ac.uk