Staff and students at the Education Training Collective (Etc.) have been sharing an insight into college life with a virtual visit from Ofsted.
With routine Ofsted inspections suspended due to the pandemic, inspectors have been carrying out interim visits to help learners, parents, employers and government understand how providers are currently meeting the needs of learners and apprentices.
During the two-day Etc. visit, inspectors heard how the group, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, has found ways to adapt to the changing circumstances, while ensuring welfare and safety remain a priority.
In a report published today, inspectors said: “Employers and other partner organisations are positive about senior leaders’ response to the challenges of the pandemic. They believe that relationships with college staff are at least as strong now as they were at the start of COVID 19 restrictions. Many partner organisations are optimistic about future collaboration to address local skills gaps.”
Inspectors met with Etc. leaders, managers, staff and learners from across the group in a series of online meetings. They heard how college leaders believed they had been able to “respond successfully to the challenges posed” and that the colleges had been “able to move swiftly into alternative ways of working, including online meetings and remote learning”.
As a result of those moves, student attendance and engagement has been positive, with staff feeding back that learners’ attendance at online sessions during the pandemic did not decline. Staff have gone on to develop their teaching practice to enable them to deliver remote learning sessions and identify when and where face-to-face learning is most essential.
Continuing to build on this new way of working, the report stated: “Teachers have adapted their timetables in response to the different demands of learners’ programmes.”
Chief Executive and Group Principal Phil Cook said: “We were happy to share with Ofsted our experiences of what has undoubtedly been an unprecedented period of challenge for all education providers.
“It is testament to the hard work and dedication of our whole team, including our students, to have inspectors recognise the enormous effort that has gone into ensuring learning has been disrupted as little as possible across the Etc. We have been amazed by the resilience and adaptability shown by all.”
Chairman of the Etc. Governing Board Mark White said: “The response of our leaders, staff and learners to the challenges COVID 19 has posed has been phenomenal. We are proud to see that the Ofsted report released today reflects this.”