Lowestoft College principal defends its vocational record after critical Ofsted report

Lowestoft College, apprenticeship provision rates 13% above national average.College principal Jo Pr

Lowestoft College, apprenticeship provision rates 13% above national average.College principal Jo Pretty - Credit: Archant

A college principal has defended its record after it was criticised by Ofsted inspectors for its lack of progress.

Ofsted rated Lowestoft College as 'requires improvement' for the second time in a row. However principal Jo Pretty said that while its academic record needs to be strengthened, it is a 'highly practical further education college' with high vocational standards.

Ofsted said after an inspection of Lowestoft College that: 'The proportion of teaching, learning and assessment that is good or better has increased since the previous inspection.'

It also praised how the college had strengthened its leadership and management team with a restructure shortly after Mrs Pretty took on the role, where three senior leaders had resigned in quick succession.

But inspectors said: 'Too many teachers do not set and monitor targets that challenge their learners' and that attendance was low, requiring 'urgent improvement'.

However Mrs Pretty said the college's apprenticeship achievement rate remains above the national average, with the college ranked 16th out of 215 in the country.

'Ofsted's new framework has now been developed to fit schools, further education colleges and sixth form colleges,' she said.

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'As a result highly practical further education colleges like ours are now judged on aspects of academic standards, alongside the vocational standards. We are pleased the inspectors found that the College delivers a very high vocational standard but recognised we now need to strengthen our academic outcomes.

'The college recognises that further work is required to enhance academia to complement student's vocational skills, this and key areas for improvement, such as English and Maths are already being addressed.'

Ofsted also said: 'Too many learners on study programmes do not have the opportunity to develop their industry-specific skills through planned work experience.'

But Mrs Pretty said: 'We have found 710 work experience opportunities for the 1,020 eligible 16-18 year olds with us.

'With such a high number, this is a challenge and we are continuing to seek work experience opportunities for all our young people.'

What do you think? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk