Education Training Collective rated Ofsted ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features

High praise from Ofsted is another great result for the colleges, students and staff, that make up the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

In its first full inspection since the merger of Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College, the group, which also includes Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy (Billingham), has been rated ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features.

Ofsted principals 2022

The report, published today, describes a college group where students are “very proud to study” and they benefit from “a strong culture of positive respect”.

Group principal and chief executive, Phil Cook, said: “As a group our aim, above all else, is to provide high quality local colleges for local people. Gaining outstanding for leadership and management is a fantastic accolade for the group, but also and importantly for those stakeholders we work with; you do not achieve outstanding without excellent partnerships that have a direct impact on our students learning.”

The college group was also rated ‘Outstanding’ for behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and education programmes for young people, and rated ‘Good’ in all other areas. Phil added: “It is reasonable for parents, stakeholders and our communities to assume our provision for young people is now outstanding, as that’s what Ofsted has said and that is brilliant news. For other aspects of our provision such as our apprenticeships and our work with adults and high needs students, Ofsted has commended us and again our communities can be assured that such services are judged as being really really good.”

It also marks a milestone for Redcar and Cleveland College. The college had previously received an inadequate rating before merger, but in the view of Ofsted has been “transformed” and is now considered “the college of first choice” for many young people living in the borough.

Preparing to hand over the reins later this year, after nine years leading the college group, Phil said: “To deliver the service our communities deserve takes hard work and determination, from our staff, leaders, governing body and, of course, our amazing students, not least as we faced the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

“That’s why it is fantastic to now see our incredible teams, across the group, and our partners, receive external recognition.”

Inspectors also recognised the support that learners, of all ages and abilities, receive and the enrichment programme that “helps them to develop their wider employability skills, confidence, and resilience.”

There was further praise for the curriculum, which is shaped to meet local economy and skill demands while, working with specialist providers, the group is able to offer a “niche provision” giving people access to local jobs that would normally be out of reach.

The report said: “Students and apprentices benefit from useful and relevant training in their local communities which meets the needs of employers and the priorities of the local enterprise partnership.”

This has resulted in exciting projects in the pipeline, further supporting their local communities, such as the addition of Redcar’s Clean Energy Education Hub, plans to extend facilities at NETA Training and developments at Bede.

Chairman of the Etc. governing board, Mark White OBE DL, said: “As a board of governors we welcome this Ofsted result which is testament to the commitment of all our teams and the work they do to deliver for our communities.”

Retiring in the summer after 27 years on the boards of the colleges that make up the Etc., culminating in his current role as chair, Mark added: “I am extremely proud to have been a part of this incredible group of colleges, of everything it has achieved and everything it will go on to achieve in the future.”

Ofsted gets a virtual insight into life at Etc.

Staff and students at the Education Training Collective (Etc.) have been sharing an insight into college life with a virtual visit from Ofsted.

Phil Cook, Chief Executive and Group Principal

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.”

Offering students a fresh spark of inspiration

With his sights set on a career as a welder, Aaron knows where he is headed.

Determined to develop the core skills he needs, including English and maths, he said: “You have to realise when you need to shape up.”

He is one of 14 pupils currently accessing Northfield School & Sports College’s inclusion base. Part of his motivation has come from a new alternate training programme being delivered in partnership with the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

The scheme offers the students who, for a whole host of reasons, no longer follow the school’s mainstream curriculum, the chance to try their hand at different vocational skills in a college or training environment.

For Aaron and his classmates that has included the choice of having a go, one day a week, at some basic engineering skills at Stockton’s NETA Training or hair and beauty sessions at The Skills Academy.

It was during the NETA workshops that the 15-year-old first tried welding. He said: “It seemed okay and not too stressful.” And as it turns out, he was pretty good at it too.

“This is why we created the programme,” said Etc.’s 14 to 16 Manager, Tracey Laycock. “It’s about offering our skills, expertise and facilities to help motivate and re-engage these young people.”

The bespoke programme at Northfield, builds on the school’s existing provision which in itself is helping to reduce the need for permanent exclusions.

Deputy Head Teacher, Gary Ankers, said: “We have had an inclusion base here for many years which is pretty rare in a secondary school. While it is not all about those with challenging behaviour, there are students accessing the provision who would have otherwise been at risk of permanent exclusion.”

He explained by removing the pressure of working to a full mainstream curriculum, the students can focus on developing core skills such as English, maths, IT and science. The addition of the bespoke Etc. programme has opened up further vocational sessions in subjects they wouldn’t typically be able to access.

The college group also provides a year-long personal development programme through The Prince’s Trust, delivered one day a week at The Skills Academy.

Northfield student Jay, 15, recognises the difference it could make to his future. With ambitions to one day become an architect, he said: “Things like NETA and The Prince’s Trust are stepping stones for us. At NETA we get to learn practical skills and then the Prince’s Trust is about working in a team, communicating and helping you develop as a person.”

Future pipefitter Bailey, 15, said: “It gives you a starting point, trying something different.” While 14-year-old Chay added: “It’s getting us ready for a working environment.”

Aiming to equip all of their students with the best skill set to maximise their future life chances, Northfield’s Deputy Head Teacher Gary said: “While GCSE grades are very important, they will never be the be all and the end all for all students and this programme is designed to reflect that. There are other skills our students need to develop, including ‘softer’ skills such as resilience and teamwork, and that is what we are doing here.”

For more details about Etc.’s bespoke alternative 14 to 16 provision which can be delivered in schools email: