Andover College has been given a huge endorsement by Ofsted, which has commended its high standards and overall effectiveness as ‘good’ with all areas inspected given a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating and governance being acknowledged as ‘Outstanding’.
The inspection report was published this week following a no notice inspection of the college in February, which saw a team of nine inspectors scrutinising the College’s performance in a real life assessment process.
The rigorous inspection focused on three curriculum areas and found the College has very high standards in all aspects of its operations and in particular provides “Outstanding” teaching and learning in Creative and Performing Arts covering all courses in the following areas – art, design, performing arts, music and music technology. The inspectors noted how students “benefit from the wide ranging sector experience of teachers” commenting on how staff “use their professional contacts well to set live project briefs in music and drama” The report also identified that students were performing at an advanced level using “industry-specific, technical language in their work.”
The other two areas in scope were Health and Social Care (including Childcare and Development) and Foundation English which were also awarded ‘Good’. Inspectors commended the quality of teaching and the role of preparing students to reach the highest professional standards through their own professional practice and links with industry.
Inspectors also commented on how the College supports students and provides a focus on their general happiness and well-being saying: “Students enjoy their time in college and standards of behaviour are very high.”
College Principal Tim Jackson felt the report was a resounding endorsement of the College’s commitment to excellence and said: “Inspectors saw the College operating in a normal way and validates our everyday commitment to exceptionally high standards and support for students. I am so pleased the skills, knowledge and expertise of our teachers was so clearly acknowledged in the report.”
Tim went on to highlight the College’s important links with business, industry and universities and said: “We provide multiple pathways for our students so they are completely prepared for the next step in life, whether that is university, which is the preferred route of the majority of our level 3 students, or employment through our strong links with employers.”
Vice Principal Martin Simmons, who worked directly with inspectors during the inspection, said: “I am proud that the very high standards we strive to achieve were recognised in this report, particularly in the creative and performing arts, but also the strong result achieved by all of our colleagues who were in scope of the inspection. We set the bar very high at Andover and work on balancing all of the elements that lead to good teaching and learning. Support for students, individualised learning plans, talented teachers who are creative and resourceful, and industry relevant practice all lead to students who are ready for university or roles in industry.”
Martin reflected on the areas for development also included in the report and said: “We’re clearly close to the point of being acknowledged as an ’Outstanding’ college and our focus as always needs to remain on sharing the best practice evidenced in the majority of our curriculum areas across the board so the high standards we expect are embedded across all areas and at all levels.”
The report also rated the governance of the college as ’Outstanding’ with governors providing appropriate support and challenge to the college’s Senior Leadership Team in order to facilitate meeting its “ambitious and challenging three-year strategic and operational plan”.
Performing arts and crafts, creative arts and design
16-19 study programmes
19+ Learning programmes
A sustained focus on developing and improving the quality of teaching and learning has secured significant improvement to the area’s performance. Current retention and achievement rates are higher than previous years. Students make excellent progress in developing their knowledge, skills and understanding of arts and design. Teaching, learning and assessment are often outstanding. Teachers effectively challenge students to ensure that they aspire to, and achieve, higher grades and they frequently exceed expectations.
Students benefit from the wide-ranging sector experience of teachers who are very knowledgeable about their subject. Teachers use their professional contacts well to set live project briefs in music and drama. A very good affinity exists between teachers and students, with high levels of mutual respect and trust.
In a very large majority of lessons, students participate fully and achieve the required learning results. Students are well motivated, enthusiastic and produce highly creative and innovative work, which is either at, and often above, the expected standard for the level and stage of their course. Students regularly use industry-specific, technical language in their work.
Students in photography, art and design, product design, music, and dance and drama have access to high-quality industry-standard software, equipment and classrooms. A suite of interlinked art and design studios enables students to gain and develop a wide range of skills such as printmaking, sculpture and life drawing in a realistic working environment. Teachers use these high-quality resources very effectively. Students further improve their skills for future employment through regular access to professional standard facilities within the local community, such as with the Lights Theatre and The Junction project.
A minority of teachers do not consistently use questioning well to develop students’ understanding or to check learning in lessons. In these lessons, students do not develop rigorous self-evaluation skills and do not complete their work quickly enough.
Teachers and students agree and frequently review online personal learning plans and individual targets, resulting in many students reaching and often exceeding their planned learning goals and achieving higher grades.
Most teachers provide clear, high-quality written feedback on marked work that informs students how to progress and extend their learning. However, a minority of teachers do not provide enough detail to help students understand what they need to do to improve further.
Teachers offer a range of contextualised opportunities for students to develop their English skills, with the result that many students are more confident and articulate as a result.
Drama students have taken their adaptation of the play Denial on tour to local schools as part of a Theatre in Education project. This work is exemplary. Students on music courses work as peer mentors in the local community to help re-engage young people to help them get their lives back on track.
Attendance is high which helps ensure that students maximise their opportunity to learn and achieve. Progression to further study including higher education is high.
The staff team promotes equality and diversity very thoroughly. Teachers actively encourage the understanding of different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles within assignment briefs and by the artefacts chosen for students to study.