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Coulsdon Sixth Form College branded inadequate by Ofsted for second time in 14 months


COULSDON Sixth Form College has been branded "inadequate" by the education watchdog for the second time in 14 months.

Ofsted inspectors said results and teaching at the 1,289-student college, in Old Coulsdon, had not improved enough since their last damning verdict in December 2011.

The college's principal, David Goodlet, deemed the rating "unfairly harsh" but Del Attah, a governor at the college, said this week: "There have been a number of emergency meetings [since the 2011 report].

"They are running out of time and running out of excuses."

The latest report follows a Learning and Skills inspection carried out in January.

Lead inspector Alex Falconer said: "The proportion of learners successfully completing and gaining qualifications in 2012 was well below recent national averages."

Mr Goodlet defended his college, pointing out that the report acknowledged vocational courses fared well and progress had been made.

"The frustrating thing is they have said everything we have done since the last inspection is correct but they do not think it is enough," he added.

Mr Goodlet said the latest criticisms would spark even more dramatic changes than the last report, since when around a quarter of teaching staff has changed.

"Having a second 'inadequate' is absolutely fundamental," he said. "You have to show you are going to improve. It has to be root and branch change."

Mr Falconer and colleagues, who visited the college in Placehouse Lane from January 15 to 18, said pass rates at A level were "below national average" and "inadequate" at AS level.

He added that advanced vocational results were "better" and around the national average in 2012.

Mr Goodlet said the college had tried to improve A-level results by being more selective in September 2012, but that cohort's results were not yet known.

He said: "We made it more difficult for students to take A levels here. We lost 100 students through that and they say because we have not got that set of results they cannot look at that.

"We have a very careful process of matching students to courses and we said, 'Sorry, we are not allowing you to take this because unless you got a B [e.g. at GCSE] you cannot do it.'

"So we have done dramatic things. Yes, it is against my principles, but we are in a difficult place."

Mr Falconer said that "added-value" indicators were also poor, with some students doing worse in academic exams than predicted by their previous results.

He said teachers' expectations of students were still sometimes too low, and added no targets for students set by managers since the last inspection had been achieved. Attendance rates also remained a problem, at around 80 per cent during the inspection days.

Mr Goodlet said the college had introduced "a raft of measures" to boost attendance, which was normally around 83 per cent.

He said: "It has improved but just not enough. We work with bus companies to improve access to the college. We have two extra attendance mentors.

"National attendance is 88 per cent compared to 83 per cent for the college. It was three or four percentage points lower than that the last time we had an inspection."

Mr Goodlet's suggestion that the college has been dealt with 'harshly' by Ofsted echoes his response to the critical 2011 report. Back then. he told the Advertiser: "One of the things that really sticks in a lot of colleges' throats is the fact that schools and colleges are not judged by Ofsted fairly. "Schools are judged on achievement (who passes the exams) and we are judged on success (who finishes the course). Nowhere has a 100 per cent success rate. We are always looking to improve." Mr Goodlet also described aspects of Ofsted's approach as 'perverse', adding: "If a college takes on more challenged students, it is more likely to have trouble with Ofsted."

Coulsdon Sixth Form College branded inadequate by Ofsted for second time in 14 months

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