Leaders, staff and governors at Sunderland College are celebrating after education watchdog Ofsted confirmed the college’s provision as ‘Good’ and ’Outstanding’.
Sunderland College merged with Hartlepool Sixth Form College (2017) and Northumberland College (2019) to create Education Partnership North East (EPNE). As a consequence, Ofsted carried out a full inspection last month (May) across all of its campuses in Sunderland and across the region.
During their latest visit, inspectors met with governors, college leaders, staff, students, employers and community partners and judged ‘Personal Development’ – the way the college’s curriculum supports students to develop their knowledge and skills beyond the purely academic, technical or vocational as “outstanding” – with all other areas rated as ‘Good’.
Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Sunderland College and Education Partnership North East, said: “We’re on a journey to outstanding at Sunderland and this great report is a further step toward that ambition. The report reflects the tremendous work and determination of our staff, students and governors to work together to provide the best possible learning experience, despite the considerable challenges we faced during the Covid pandemic.
“It was great to be able to share with inspectors how we align our curriculum to socio-economic need and that as an outcome 94% of our students progress into higher level study or employment.”
In response Ofsted reported that the college’s “programmes respond effectively to national, regional and local priorities and that enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they need for employment, further training and progression to higher education”.
Sunderland College Principal, Toni Rhodes, said: “While we’re delighted at the overall grade, and in particular with what the inspectors said about teaching and student behaviours, we’re thrilled about the outstanding grade for the personal development of our students.”
Ofsted reported “Students benefit from a calm and focussed environment in which they are encouraged to contribute their ideas and know that they will be listened to”. They “demonstrate positive attitudes to learning. They enjoy their lessons and take pride in their work. Students experience a culture of high expectations and are supported well to develop appropriate attitudes and behaviours that prepares them well for their next steps”.
And it praised the role the college plays within the Wearside community: “The College have established very effective working partnerships with the local enterprise partnership, local authorities and combined mayoral authorities. They play key and prominent roles as leaders in driving forward the skills agendas of Sunderland, Hartlepool and Northumberland. “
James Stuart, Chair of the Board of Corporation at Education Partnership North East, said: “I’m delighted with the report and very proud of our talented and dedicated team who’ve worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances to deliver great teaching and support. Our governors share the ambition of our senior leadership team – to create outstanding learning environments for our students and to give them every opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Sunderland College has three campuses – Bede Campus and City Campus in Sunderland, and Washington Campus – and teaches more than 11,000 students a year (full and part-time).
*Last month, Sunderland College’s innovative 360-degree Immersive Space won a prestigious international award. The state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment – developed by leading, shared immersive spaces company Igloo Vision – overcame tough competition from Burnley College and Tartu University Hospital in Estonia to be named the winner of the Education Project of the Year at the International Audio Visual News Awards 2022 at a ceremony in Barcelona.
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Our achievement rates are well above the national average.
We are the College of the Year.
(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)
100% of our HND and HNC students progressed to employment or further study.
(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17, HNC 19+)
We have recently invested £50 million in our facilities.