By Andy Hirst
Greenhead College has been rated outstanding by Ofsted in its first full inspection for 15 years.
It’s unusual for schools and colleges to go so long between inspections and the last one for Greenhead back in 2007 was also outstanding. Normally an outstanding rating means they are exempt from a further inspection for 10 years.
The latest inspection was carried out in mid-March at the sixth-form college next to Huddersfield town centre which now has 2,767 students.
The college is rated the top performing sixth form college in the north of England and in the top 10 sixth form colleges nationally, according to The Times’ Parent Power School Guide.
Ofsted has just rated the college outstanding in all criteria which are: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, education programmes for young people and provision for learners with high needs.
College principal Simon Lett said parents had given a very high positive response to Ofsted’s parent survey which was part of the process.
He added: “What comes through in this report is that our students are an absolute credit to themselves and to Greenhead College.
“At the end of the inspection the lead inspector told me the overriding impression he and his team had been left with was just how amazing our students are.
“Given everything our students have been through over the last two years I think this report is a real demonstration of their resilience, hard work and continued high aspirations.”
The report reveals that the college governors are vital to its success.
It states: “Governance is very strong. Governors are highly experienced and come from a wide range of disciplines including universities, the civil service, human resources and senior education positions. They have a deep knowledge of the college and how it functions and they work closely with staff and students. Governors hold senior leaders to account successfully in making improvements and maintaining the high standards set at the college.”
Ofsted said the college reacted quickly to sort out any problems when teaching returned to the classroom after Covid lockdowns.
It states: “Leaders and managers provide highly effective training that helps teachers to improve their teaching skills. Following students’ return to college after the Covid 19 restrictions, leaders and managers identified that students could not recall their earlier learning as well as they needed to.
“They introduced staff training that included methods of retrieval based on recent research that teachers now use in their teaching. As a result, students’ long-term memory and retrieval of specific knowledge have improved.
“Leaders and managers support staff very well with their workloads and well-being. They provide staff with time to complete actions in their performance plans and do not overload staff with tasks at busy times in the academic year.”
The report also praises the quality of the teaching, stating: “Staff across the college set very high expectations for what they expect of students in terms of their attitudes to learning and their behaviour.
“Students respond to these exceptionally well and their behaviour is exemplary. They are highly respectful of each other and staff. Attendance is consistently high and students arrive to lessons promptly, focused and ready to learn. Students are encouraged to do their best and are treated as mature adults.
“Teachers take care not to overload students. They enable them to master knowledge, technical language and terminology, techniques and procedures before moving on to more complex work.”
The report states that caring for students’ mental health is a priority.
It adds: “Through a range of carefully coordinated activities and support arrangements, staff work highly effectively together to build students’ confidence and resilience and help them to stay physically and mentally healthy.
“Students appreciate being able to participate in mindfulness programmes in which support staff apply techniques in supporting positive mental health effectively. This has helped to improve students’ mental health and reduce the need to refer students to external support services.”
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.