News, views & analysis blogs by: Alistair Pulling


Alistair Pulling :
Farnborough College of Technology; home of the Aerospace and Automotive Academy, rated ´Outstanding´ by OFSTED


Alistair Pulling :
‘Outstanding’ Farnborough College of Technology joins country’s leading colleges
(10th January, Surrey): Farnborough College of Technology(FCT) has rounded off a highly successful year by winning the most sought after accolade in education, putting it among the best in the country. It has just been awarded an ‘outstanding’ grade in a recent Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) inspection – one of only four further education colleges in the whole South East region to score so highly. The college was judged to be ‘outstanding’ across all areas of its work.
The news follows the college’s other 2011 triumph: the launch of its new Aerospace and Automotive Academy in March. The facility, officially opened by the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, is the most modern of its kind in the UK and now provides a high quality skills-based education for hundreds of young students.
Referring to his visit to FCT in a speech at the UK Universities Conference recently, Dr Cable said: “I also see a lot of encouraging work, often to degree standard, going on during visits to FE colleges. HE in FE is very much part of this country´s educational future. At Farnborough, the quality of training for students of aerospace engineering is first class.”
Commenting on their latest success Christine Slaymaker, the college principal, said: “This stunning result is truly a testament to the dedication of staff, students and local employers, all of whom have played their part in our success. We have demonstrated that as a college we believe in what we do and can deliver it to the highest standard.
“We were greatly encouraged by the result as the college has consistently out-performed in league tables over the past four years.”
A team of nine Ofsted inspectors spent a week at the college in November; observing lessons, interviewing key staff, students and examining all aspects of their work from student learning and security to financial management.
Mr John Palfreyman, the college’s chair of governors, commented: “I would like to pay tribute to the Principal and her team. The board of governors has fully supported the determination the college has shown in achieving this magnificent result. The whole board are delighted to join the college in celebrating this outstanding achievement”

Inspection highlights

Among the inspector’s highlights were the high success rates for students and the wide range of courses offered; the excellent support students received and how well it prepared them for further study and the world of work. The inspectors were impressed too by the quality of buildings and the equipment available – and by the very favourable response from employers.
In terms of overall effectiveness, they commented on the college’s record of “sustained and very significant increases in success rates” for all students, irrespective of their abilities. They noted too that students felt very secure in this environment, thanks to the efforts of the college with regard to safety and welfare.
Lessons were well planned, learners were kept interested and inspectors observed some outstanding lessons, noting that “there are very high standards in teaching and learning to be shared”.
Praise was given for “outstanding” leadership and management, exemplified by rigorous quality assurance and self-assessment procedures, which had “driven up results and improved the quality of teaching and learning”.
At the same time a financial audit required by the Skills Funding Agency took place, FCT was found to be “outstanding” in all areas. Ofsted noted the outstanding value for money and pointed to the college’s financial health and the outstanding outcomes for learners.

Students’ impressions
The learners themselves gave a very positive impression to inspectors when probed for what they liked. Features rated highly by the students included:
• Learning in a professional and supportive atmosphere
• Support and motivation provided by approachable tutors
• Provision of a “student organiser” which helps them to reflect on their achievements and focus on personal targets for improvement
• FCT’s responsiveness to their suggestions for improvements
• Work experience and the promotion of employability skills
• Feeling safe in the college
• The high quality of the resources
• Working in groups
• Being treated as adults
• One-to-one information technology support offered by the learning centre.

Favoured by employers
A very positive response from employers revealed a range of features favoured by them:

• The efforts the college makes to ensure that training meets employers’ needs
• The flexibility of progress reviews and assessments to meet the working patterns of businesses
• The quality of the support the college provides to apprentices in the workplace
• The speed of the reporting of learners’ absences and the high quality of communication with the college
• The friendly and open atmosphere
• The high standard of work produced by the learners they employ.


Notes for Editors
Farnborough College of Technology
Established in 1957, Farnborough College of Technology offers exceptional teaching and learning facilities, providing first class courses with a strong vocational orientation.
An accredited college of the University of Surrey, the College offers a wide range of further and higher education programmes. Students can choose from full and part-time courses including AS/A2 level, Diplomas, Access, Degree and some postgraduate options. Additionally the College offers a broad portfolio of professional and management courses that can be customised to meet the specific requirements of employers.
Students have access to a vast range of facilities to support them at all stages of their studies, including a state-of-the-art Learning Resource Centre, offering books, journals, audio-visual materials, and electronic information services. Study facilities include quiet research areas, Wi-Fi hotspots, audio visual area and open access computers.
A new Aerospace and Automotive Academy was opened in March 2011. The most modern of its kind in the UK, it provides a high quality skills-based education for hundreds of young students.

The College has built its reputation by carefully considering the needs of industry and students, and by energetically pursuing a policy of achievement.
Further information about OFSTED -
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