Great Yarmouth College celebrates turnaround

A Norfolk college is today celebrating a remarkable turnaround in fortunes only seven months after a damning Ofsted report led to the resignation of its long-serving principal.

Inspectors then found the fortunes of Great Yarmouth College had sunk so far from a 'good' Ofsted rating in 2007 that it became the only college nationally to be given three notices to improve, covering its financial systems, financial health and quality of provision.

However, following their return to the Suffolk Road campus last month for a monitoring visit, they judged the college had made reasonable progress in every area except one.

Delighted by the verdict, new principal Penny Wycherley said: 'What we have is the maximum grades we could have got, given the monitoring visit came only six months after the inspection and there have been few new achievements because of the time of the year.

'There is a real buzz in the college again and our renaissance is clearly visible.' Mrs Wycherley, 60, who took over at the end of January, said the only area still rated below par was progress made in improving outcomes for learners.

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'That was inevitable because we had no new data available to show progress because of the short time span since the last visit,' she said.

However, inspectors had picked up on renewed confidence for the future and remarked in their report: 'Managers and teachers have monitored each learner's progress towards achieving their qualification carefully and are confident that success rates will be increased in the current year.'

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Inspectors note the college had completed a successful restructure to improve management, increase the focus on teaching and learning, improve learners' experiences and reduce costs by about �1m.

Managers had improved recruitment and selection arrangements to determine the most appropriate course for learners.

Inspectors report: 'Close attention to ensuring learners achieve their qualifications is proving successful.'

They found all staff consider the profiles of individual learners carefully and do all they can to overcome barriers to achievement.

Mrs Wycherley said: 'Since January we have seen a significant improvement in retention of learners and we rate better than the national average over that period.' She was confident of further improvement ahead of the next Ofsted visit.

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