STANDARDS at South Tyneside College are continuing to rise, according to its latest Ofsted report.
The education watchdog found the college has made “rapid” improvements and is continuing a four-year upward trend of success and has a “clear mission to drive forward standards”.
It has now been graded as “good”, and improvement on the last inspection in 2009, when it was deemed “satisfactory”.
Although the new report identifies some weak areas, particularly in science and mathematics, the general tone is upbeat.
Chief executive and principal Lindsey Whiterod says the report is vindication of a new focus on teaching, learning and student assessment.
Inspectors found staff feeling part of a “culture change” rooted in ensuring the best possible learning experience.
Mrs Whiterod said: “Ofsted’s report is very satisfying. We have talented and dedicated staff who have worked extremely hard to ensure our learners get the best possible education and the greatest opportunity to succeed.
“The college has taken giant steps forward in many areas in recent years.
“Our students’ individual needs and expectations are at the centre of all that we do. To gain a standard rating of good is clear evidence that our strategies are working, but I am determined that we will keep working hard to improve still further.”
In eight core inspection areas, six achieved ‘good’ ratings, with the report stating: “The pace of improvement since the last inspection has been rapid.
“In the majority of subjects there has been a consistent improvement in both retention and achievement.”
Listening to students and acting on their views, which had been an area for improvement, is now a “strength”.
Ofsted also found arrangements to improve teaching and learning and to manage the performance of staff have improved “significantly”, and is now “comprehensive and robust”.
The college was also judged as providing a good range of vocational courses across most of the subjects it offered. Foundation level provision had significantly expanded to meet the different needs and abilities of learners, including those with learning difficulties or disabilities.
Workplace training was also highly praised, with students benefiting from frequent, well-planned assessments.
The report adds: “Teachers have high expectations of learners and challenge them to develop functional skills at higher levels. This encourages higher-level achievement.”
Chairman of governors Les Watson said: “Tremendous progress is being made across the college, and that is reflected in this very positive Ofsted report.
“Our staff are to be congratulated for being so committed to raising standards, and the students have also shown how much they want to succeed.
“We can rightly put ourselves among the very best colleges in the North East, which is something to be extremely proud of.”