Quality and Standards in Post-16 Education and Training in Wales. A Report on the Quality of Further Education. St David's Catholic College

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1 Quality and Standards in Post-16 Education and Training in Wales A Report on the Quality of Further Education in St David's Catholic College November 2006 by Estyn, Her Majesty s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales

2 The purpose of Estyn is to inspect quality and standards in education and training in Wales. Estyn is responsible for inspecting: nursery schools and settings that are maintained by, or receive funding from, local education authorities (LEAs); primary schools; secondary schools; special schools; pupil referral units; independent schools; further education; adult community-based learning; youth support services; LEAs; teacher education and training; work-based learning; careers companies; and the education, guidance and training elements of Jobcentre plus. Estyn also: provides advice on quality and standards in education and training in Wales to the National Assembly for Wales and others; and makes public good practice based on inspection evidence. Every possible care has been taken to ensure that the information in this document is accurate at the time of going to press. Any enquiries or comments regarding this document/publication should be addressed to: Publication Section Estyn Anchor Court Keen Road Cardiff CF24 5JW or by to This and other Estyn publications are available on our website: Crown Copyright 2007: This report may be re-used free of charge in any format or medium provided that it is re-used accurately and not used in a misleading context. The material must be acknowledged as Crown copyright and the title of the document/publication specified.

3 Introduction St David's Catholic College was inspected as part of a six-year ( ) national programme of inspections of all post-16 providers in Wales. The purpose of the programme is to identify good features and shortcomings in order that the college may improve the quality of education and training offered and raise the standards achieved by learners. Inspection is also designed to give learners more information about the quality of providers of further education. All inspections conducted under the new arrangements apply the following principles: the use of a common framework which is common to all sectors of education and training in Wales; an emphasis on the college s evaluation of its work; the involvement of a provider nominee who worked with the inspection team; and the inspection of a sample of provision. The inspection took place from 13 to 23 November A team of Her Majesty s Inspectors from Estyn, a statutory body independent of, but funded by, the Welsh Assembly Government, undertook the inspection. The team included peer assessors released from other further education providers in Wales. The team was required to report on standards achieved by learners, the quality of education and training provided, the quality of leadership and management and to judge if the college provides value for money. Grade descriptions The five-point scale used to represent all inspection judgements in this report is as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 good with outstanding features good features and no important shortcomings good features outweigh shortcomings some good features, but shortcomings in important areas many important shortcomings The Learning and Skills Act 2000, requires the college to prepare a written statement of the action that they propose to take to address the recommendations in the inspection report and the timescales for completing the proposed actions.

4 Contents Page Context 1 Summary 2 Recommendations 5 Standards 6 Key Question 1: How well do learners achieve? 6 The quality of education and training 8 Key Question 2: How effective are teaching, training and assessment? 8 Key Question 3: How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? 8 Key Question 4: How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 11 Leadership and management 14 Key Question 5: How effective are leadership and strategic management? 14 Key Question 6: How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? Key Question 7: How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? Standards achieved by learners in learning areas inspected Science and mathematics Engineering and manufacturing technologies 20 9b. Performing arts 21 9c. Art and design Business, administration and law 23 Provider s response to the report findings 26 Appendix 1 The evidence base of the inspection Appendix 2 The inspection team

5 Context The nature of the provider 1 St David s Catholic College provides learning opportunities for about 1100 full-time learners. Most are aged 16 to 18 and follow academic or vocational programmes at level 3. The remainder follow level 2 programmes and there is a small amount of provision at level 1. 2 The college is located on one campus in the north-east of Cardiff. About half the learners come from four Catholic secondary schools in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. About 20% come from maintained secondary schools in the east of Cardiff. About 15% of learners are from ethnic minority groups. About 45% of learners come from areas judged to have socio-economic disadvantages. 3 The college mission is to be A Catholic college for the community, seeking to discover and realise the full potential of all, in an atmosphere of love, service and respect, inspired by Christ. 4 The college works closely with other providers both locally and nationally. It helped to establish the faith-based learning network in 2003 which now involves 13 denominational secondary schools in Wales. It plays an active role in the local area network for education and training. 5 The college has taken part in the pilot phase of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification since its introduction in This year, all level 3 and level 1 learners are taking part in the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification programme (about 1000 learners). 1

6 Summary 6 The profile of inspection grades awarded to the college is very good overall. All of the grades awarded for Key Questions 1 to 7 have improved or remained at the same high level compared to the last inspection in All learning areas inspected are either good or outstanding. Learners complete and attain qualifications at a high rate. Learners make very good progress compared to their starting points on entry to the college. They receive very good support and guidance. The systems for improving standards and quality are working well. The college has strong, effective leadership. It provides good value for money. Table of grades awarded 7 The inspection team judged the college s work as follows: Key Question Inspection grade 1 How well do learners achieve? 1 2 How effective are teaching, training and assessment? 2 3 How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? 4 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 1 5 How effective are leadership and strategic management? 2 6 How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? 7 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? 8 The standards achieved in each of the learning areas inspected are as follows: Learning Area Inspection Grade 02. Science and mathematics Engineering and manufacturing technologies 2 9b. Performing arts 2 9c. Art and design Business, administration and law 1 2

7 Standards 9 Learners achieve high standards. Overall, they are very successful in attaining the qualifications they set out to achieve. 10 The rates at which learners attain academic and vocational qualifications at level 2 and level 3 are often very good. Learners often make very good progress in relation to their starting points on entry to the college. At the end of their courses, many learners move successfully from level 2 to level 3 courses or from level 3 to higher education institutions. Learners are attaining key skills awards at a good rate. 11 Those learners who took part in the pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate from 2004 to 2006 achieved the Advanced Diploma at a rate just above the national average. However, too many in the cohort did not complete the qualification. Overall, the current cohort is making good progress towards achieving the qualification both at level 1 and level 3, mainly as a result of improvements in the planning of the course at the start of In the learning areas inspected, nearly all learners are enthusiastic about learning and develop a good knowledge and understanding of the subjects they study. Many seek out help and put in the extra work required when they do not understand a topic straightaway. They have clear targets to aim at and they review these well with their tutors. Many have good communication skills and their practical work is often of high quality. They work well together. Most are punctual and attend regularly. The quality of education and training 13 The quality of teaching, training and assessment is usually good or very good. Teachers generally plan courses and lessons well. They often set high expectations for learners, who receive regular and effective assessment of their progress. Teachers are very good at setting targets for individuals to sustain and to encourage their learning. 14 The college offers a suitably wide range of courses from level 1 to level 3. Just over a quarter of learners at level 3 study an appropriate mix of vocational and academic courses. The number of learners on level 1 and 2 courses has increased by about 20% since the last inspection. Level 1 provision offers very good opportunities for learners to develop their key skills and to progress to higher-level courses. 15 The planning for the pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification is sound in most respects. All learners at level 1 and level 3 now take part in the Welsh Baccalaureate programme from the outset. Learners can take up to four A levels plus the Welsh Baccalaureate. The college has a very effective programme to support able and gifted learners at level 3. There is very good planning of key skills. This has led to a large increase in the attainment of key skills awards over the last two years. 16 The college leads the development of the faith-based learning network, which includes 13 denominational schools across Wales. It has used the Knowledge Exploitation Fund well to enhance the work-related curriculum, but only 37% of level 3 learners undertook a work placement last year. The college has developed the 3

8 Welsh dimension well within the curriculum and around the college, but the support for the small number of Welsh speakers in the college is limited. 17 All learners receive outstanding care, guidance and support from their teachers and the specialist pastoral team. The Honours Programme and the Tracker system (explained in the Key Question 4 section of the report) are outstanding features. They are working very effectively to improve standards. The quality of leadership and management 18 The principal and senior managers provide positive leadership. Together with the governors, they provide a strong strategic direction. The college s new mission statement is good. Managers work well as a team. They analyse data well and make good use of use target-setting at all levels. The new arrangements for staff appraisal are rigorous and fair. The governing body carries out its work effectively. 19 The college s quality assurance systems help to improve outcomes for learners very well. The college analyses data systematically on the distance learners have travelled in A level courses. The Results Improvement Strategy has tackled underperformance robustly. Divisional and course reviews are of high quality. The self-assessment report produced for the inspection is evaluative, analytical and accurate in most respects. 20 Overall, staff are experienced and well-qualified. However, there are not enough staff with a qualification in basic skills at level 3 or above and technician support is limited in a few learning areas. The quality of the accommodation is good overall and staff and learners make good use of it. Learning resources are appropriate and the quality of the learning resource centre is good. The virtual learning environment is developing well and, in the areas inspected, many staff and learners use it effectively. Overall, the college is providing good value for money. 4

9 Recommendations A Report on the Quality of Further Education in 21 In order to improve, the staff and governing body need to: R1 improve the rate at which learners complete the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification programme; R2 make sure the degree of challenge in Welsh Baccalaureate sessions is suitably high for level 3 learners, especially for more able learners; R3 use the information on learners preferred learning styles to set more differentiated tasks in lessons; R4 improve the capacity of the college to respond to the Welsh language needs of learners; R5 increase the take-up of work-related education opportunities by level 3 learners; R6 make sure relevant staff hold qualifications in basic skills at level 3 or above; R7 clarify the roles, responsibilities and reporting lines of staff with management functions; R8 strengthen the quality assurance arrangements within the pastoral programme; and R9 make sure the annual operating statement of the strategic plan includes the resource cost implications of the planned developments. 5

10 Standards Key Question 1: How well do learners achieve? Grade 1: Good with outstanding features 22 The findings of the inspection team are close to the judgements made by the college in its self-evaluation report. The inspection grades awarded to three of the five learning areas inspected are the same as those in the self-evaluation report. The two grade 1s awarded to learning areas are one grade higher than those in the self-evaluation report. 23 Overall, in over 90% of the classes observed, learners achievement and attainment are good or very good. Learners standards of achievement Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 40% 53% 6% 0% 0% 24 The standards achieved in each of the learning areas inspected are as follows: Learning Area Inspection Grade 02. Science and mathematics Engineering and manufacturing technologies 2 9b. Performing arts 2 9c. Art and design Business, administration and law 1 25 Learners achieve outstanding standards overall in science and mathematics and in business, administration and law. They achieve good standards overall in engineering and manufacturing technologies, art and design and performing arts. 26 Many learners in the areas inspected attain results in vocational and academic courses that are well above national comparators. Many learners are making very good progress in relation to their starting points on entry to the college, especially on level 3 courses. Overall, learners from ethnic minorities and from economically disadvantaged areas do as well as their peers. 27 The rates at which learners progress from level 2 to level 3 courses and from level 3 courses to higher education are high. 6

11 28 Learners high attainment is very well supported by the college s Honours Programme, which aims to support and challenge able level 3 learners, and the Tracker programme, which encourages learners to monitor their own progress towards meeting predicted and aspirational targets. 29 The development of learners key skills is good overall. The attainment of key skills awards has increased a great deal in recent years, especially at level 3 and in the wider key skills, such as working with others and improving own learning and performance. The number of key skills awards attained by learners increased by 35% last year. About 85 learners achieved at least three key skills at level 3 and just over half of those achieved four or more key skills at level 3. Only 2% of learners speak Welsh fluently, but they use these skills rarely in their work. 30 In the learning areas inspected, nearly all learners are enthusiastic about learning and develop a good knowledge and understanding of the subjects they study. Many put in the extra effort required when they face difficulties in understanding aspects of the course. Many seek out extra help from staff and receive good support. They have a very good idea of the targets they are aiming for and review these regularly with tutors. 31 Many learners have good communication skills. Practical work, for example in science, drama and music, is often of high quality. They work well with others and show maturity in organising and managing their own work. They use information and communication technology well. Learners behave well and respect staff, each other and the environment of the college. Most learners are punctual and attend regularly. 32 Those learners who took part in the pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate from 2004 to 2006 achieved the Advanced Diploma at a rate just above the national average. Nearly all the learners who completed the elements of the qualification achieved the Diploma. However, too many in the cohort did not complete all the elements, mainly because participation was voluntary at that time and more able learners opted out of the programme to concentrate on their A level subjects. The current cohort is making good progress towards achieving the qualification both at level 1 and level 3, mainly as a result of improvements in the planning of the course at the start of 2006, increased challenges in the course for more able learners on the Honours Programme, and because it is now a compulsory component for all level 1 and level 3 learners at the college. 7

12 The quality of education and training Key Question 2: How effective are teaching, training and assessment? Grade 2: Good features and no important shortcomings 33 The findings of the inspection team match the judgements made by the college in its self-evaluation report. Most of the lessons observed during the inspection were judged to be good or outstanding. The quality of teaching in the learning areas inspected Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 26% 60% 14% 0% 0% 34 Teachers plan courses and lessons well and they have clear objectives for all learning activities. Teachers plan lessons well to make sure learners are fully engaged by the work. Schemes of work identify links to key skills clearly, but teachers do not always exploit fully the good opportunities that arise within many sessions to record evidence of attainment in key skills. Teachers generally have high expectations of their learners and set them suitably challenging work. They set their learners realistic, but challenging targets for individual assignments and overall attainment. Most teachers prompt learners to think for themselves and teachers classroom management skills are often good. 35 The degree of challenge in a few Welsh Baccalaureate sessions is too low, especially for the more able learners following the Honours Programme. Teachers have a lot of information on learners preferred style of learning, but this has yet to have much impact on the design of lessons or on the production of more differentiated tasks. In a few classes, teachers spend too much time explaining topics and do not give learners enough opportunities to develop their independent learning skills. 36 Teachers set and mark assignments regularly and effectively. Teachers involve learners well in self-assessment, discussion of formal assignment assessment and negotiation of personal targets. Assignments meet the needs of learners and awarding bodies. Teachers mark written work carefully and the quality of teachers feedback on completed assessments is often very good. Teachers give learners clear guidance on what learners have achieved and how to improve. In practical sessions, learners receive very constructive feedback on their performance, for example in drama and music. Teachers keep good records of learners attainment. Key Question 3: How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? Grade 2: Good features and no important shortcomings 37 Overall, the college offers a suitable range of courses from level 1 to level 3 to meet the needs of its learners. The main provision is at level 3. Twenty-six per cent of 8

13 learners on level 3 courses undertake an appropriate mix of academic and vocational qualifications. Courses at levels 1 and 2 make up 10% of college enrolments. The number of learners on level 1 and 2 courses has increased by about 20% since the last inspection in Level 1 provision is based on the Foundation Welsh Baccalaureate pilot. Although this provision is small, it provides learners with very good opportunities to broaden their understanding of Welsh culture, to develop key skills and to gain relevant qualifications in order to progress. Overall, the college has responded appropriately to local and national priorities in developing its provision. 39 Learners progress well from one level of provision to another. Half the level 1 learners progress to level 2 courses at the college and the other half progress to other further education providers in the locality. Sixty per cent of level 2 learners progress to level 3 courses at the college and 70% of level 3 learners progress to courses in higher education institutions. 40 The college has participated in the pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification since During the pilot, the college has changed a number of aspects of its programme appropriately to improve the delivery of the qualification. From September 2006, it is compulsory for all learners on level 1 and level 3 programmes to enrol and to take part in the Welsh Baccalaureate programme. The arrangements for the Welsh Baccalaureate at level 3 allow learners to take a suitable number of A levels plus the Welsh Baccalaureate. More academic learners can retain the breadth of their study at A level while also following the Welsh Baccalaureate. While most level 3 learners study three A levels plus the Welsh Baccalaureate, about 34% in the lower sixth and 12% in the upper sixth study four A levels plus the Welsh Baccalaureate. 41 The college is in the process of making the Welsh Baccalaureate lessons more challenging for more able learners. There is some unnecessary duplication in the core content of the Welsh Baccalaureate programme for learners who cover similar areas in more depth through their A level studies. Learners benefit from studying core assignments which engage them effectively in topics such as the history and development of the Welsh language, cultural diversity and environmental issues. 42 Many learners who achieved the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma in 2006 used the UCAS points they received to help them gain places at higher education institutions. For those learners, the Welsh Baccalaureate provided, on average, about a third of all the UCAS points they achieved at the end of their level 3 courses. For a few, the qualification contributed up to half of all their UCAS points. Many received offers from universities in England and Wales which took the Welsh Baccalaureate into account to varying degrees, either by reducing the usual offer by one grade at A level or by considering the Welsh Baccalaureate as an equivalent to an entire A level subject. Overall, two-thirds of learners who achieved the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma went on to study at higher education institutions in Wales. 43 The college participates well in a number of local and regional networks. It is leading curriculum developments within the faith-based learning network. The faith-based 9

14 learning network includes 13 Roman Catholic and Church-in-Wales secondary schools. Over 100 learners receive direct tuition from St David s staff. Learners attend St David s for courses or St David s staff travel to their school. Subjects include hairdressing, hospitality and catering, and travel and tourism. Up to 500 learners in faith-based partner schools benefit from using materials on the college s virtual learning environment. The college developed this initiative with support from the Welsh Assembly Government s Common Investment Fund. As part of developments, the college offers AS courses in statistics and critical thinking, providing extra breadth and challenge for learners in the area. The critical thinking course is delivered in partnership with Bishop Hedley High School in Merthyr Tydfil, using the virtual learning environment. The college uses the Common Investment Fund well to work with six other faith-based secondary schools across south-east Wales, producing materials of high quality for media and film courses. 44 There is very good planning and delivery of key skills. They are well integrated into main qualifications and the pastoral programme. Detailed mapping sheets show learners how they can develop these skills as part of everyday learning. Individual courses have identified assessment opportunities in their work and how best to get relevant evidence for key skills attainment. Occasionally, for example, in engineering and manufacturing technology and in performing arts, teachers miss useful opportunities to assess key skills. 45 The Honours Programme successfully challenges more able learners to reach their full potential. Teachers deliver the programme alongside the Welsh Baccalaureate. About 10% of level 3 learners take part in this programme. It makes a significant contribution to learners overall attainment. 46 The college uses the Knowledge Exploitation Fund well to enhance the work-related curriculum. A good range of guest speakers and role models support the development of enterprise activities. An enterprise club provides a lively forum for students to discuss issues relating to citizenship and sustainability. Overall, learners are developing sound entrepreneurial skills. There are particularly good examples of enterprise activities within the BTEC course in business administration. There are good arrangements for work experience on the CACHE Health and Social Care course and BTEC National Sport programmes. There are work placements of good quality for learners interested in careers in teaching, medicine, and nursing. However, while the number of learners undertaking work placements increased a little last year, too few overall (37%) undertook a work placement. 47 Welsh-speaking learners make up just under 2% of all learners. The college's Welsh Language Scheme is near completion and the college is implementing improvements in this area of its work. The website and prospectus are bilingual, as are all signs in the college. A bilingual receptionist assists the Welsh language co-ordinator with the translation of learning materials and other documents. Learners may submit assignments in Welsh, but very few do. At present, there is no tutorial support in Welsh and the extent of support for the small number of Welsh language speakers is limited. 48 The recently-appointed marketing manager is beginning to make an impact on promoting the college to partners and other stakeholders. However, the post-holder 10

15 and other relevant staff, for example those in the pastoral team who liaise with schools, do not plan together in order to make the best of marketing opportunities. Key Question 4: How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? Grade 1: Good with outstanding features 49 The quality of care, support and guidance is outstanding. The college commits a significant amount of resources to provide learners with three hours of support and guidance in pastoral and general religious education sessions each week. Learners also have two further hours each week in tutor groups to receive sessions on the Welsh Baccalaureate programme. 50 A specialist pastoral team with either no or very few teaching commitments supports the needs of learners very well. This team works in a close partnership with all class teachers and learning-support staff. This partnership has underpinned the overall trend of improvement in examination results, the good progress learners make from their starting points, their progression to higher education and employment, and in their overall personal, social and moral development. 51 The college provides information to all its feeder comprehensive schools from year 9 and to all other schools in year 11. The college provides very good advice and guidance to prospective learners at schools option and careers information events and at open evenings at the college in order to help them to choose the correct course. The induction programme is effective. All new and returning learners can attend a specified induction day. This provides opportunities for learners to meet pastoral tutors, teachers and support staff. All learners undertake very good additional induction activities in pastoral and subject lessons. 52 All learners undertake diagnostic testing as part of their induction. Those who have additional learning needs or require help with basic and key skills receive appropriate support. Staff co-ordinate basic and key skills support very effectively. However, in a very few cases, learners do not receive the support quickly enough at the start of the year. 53 All learners receive very good careers advice and guidance throughout the year. It integrates very well into their individual tutorial programme. Learners make informed choices about future learning and careers. Learners receive very good advice and support to complete their applications for university. 11

16 Outstanding practice More able and gifted learners often apply to join the college s Honours Programme. This is a group of about 60 learners each year that the college considers might benefit from further challenge and support in order to make the most of their potential and to achieve high grades in level 3 courses. There is careful evaluation of learners prior and current attainment before the college invites them to join the programme. The college places these learners in tutor groups with each other and this creates a strong peer effect with learners supporting each other s high achievement. These learners receive specific support to help them gain places on courses at universities which tend to ask for higher grades, such as medical and dental courses, and Oxford and Cambridge colleges. About 10% of learners join or leave the programme during each year depending on their progress and level of commitment. The Honours Programme has underpinned the increased attainment of the higher grades in A level courses. Last year, 32 learners from the programme achieved three or more A grades at A level. Outstanding practice The college s Tracker system has outstanding features. It allows staff and learners to bring together many aspects of learners performance in one system. Learners receive target grades based on prior attainment in GCSEs as well as aspirational targets. The system also includes information on punctuality and attendance, successful completion of assignments, including key skills, and indications of the effort that learners are putting into their studies. Tutors and learners monitor these indicators on a regular basis through individual interviews. There is very close monitoring of learners progress against these targets and measures by pastoral, academic, support staff and parents. The Tracker system provides the detail to support discussion at well-planned pastoral sessions. The Tracker system encourages learners to meet their personal targets and to improve their performance. Key skills support and development, and completion of Welsh Baccalaureate components are also important features of the Tracker sessions. Specific tutorial sessions help learners to become expert in the Tracker process and they received detailed training in how to assess their own performance, often by reflecting on the Tracker history of previous learners at the college. The Tracker system underpins effectively the improved learner outcomes across the college. 54 The college uses a computer-based register system well and this has led to improved attendance and punctuality. However, learners attendance and punctuality in a few courses vary too much and attendance drops below 90% overall. The college has effective systems to deal with poor behaviour. 55 The college has procedures in place for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. All new members of staff are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the college continuously updates its records for other staff. All learners who undertake work experience with children also receive CRB checks. 12

17 56 The college has a very strong commitment to providing programmes that are accessible to a wide range of learners. It has a comprehensive equal opportunities policy and has an effective race equality action plan. All learners discuss equal opportunities well during induction and pastoral sessions. Disabled learners receive good support. 13

18 Leadership and management A Report on the Quality of Further Education in Key Question 5: How effective are leadership and strategic management? Grade 2: Good features and no important shortcomings 57 The principal and senior managers provide effective leadership. Together with the governors, they provide a strong strategic direction. The senior managers and staff are committed to promoting a Catholic ethos within an inclusive college community. The senior management team is self-critical and eager to make any changes that can raise standards and improve learners experiences. Senior managers are not afraid to tackle difficult issues robustly where the learners interests are in jeopardy, for example where standards are not good enough. 58 The college has an appropriate mission statement which reflects the vision and values of the college in a concise way. The senior managers consulted staff effectively about the new mission statement. The college has four strategic aims, supported by clear strategic objectives. The roles and responsibilities of the senior management team relate well to these aims and objectives. 59 The senior management team work together well as a team. The assistant senior managers with curriculum responsibilities are responsible for line managing the teaching staff and they report to the associate principal for strategic development and quality. These reporting lines are clear and well understood. However, many staff have a more limited understanding of the responsibilities and reporting lines of other staff, particularly those with more than one management function. 60 Internal communication is generally good. Staff use the virtual learning environment well to share information on policies, practices and the minutes of meetings. However, there is too much duplication in the membership and work of various management meetings where many staff consider the same papers up to three times and the extent and levels of delegated leadership are not clear enough. 61 The recently-revised arrangements for staff appraisal are rigorous and fair. The new scheme directly relates performance to the specific responsibilities in new job descriptions. The targets for improvement for individual staff are based on their performance and development. The action plans for improvement have good, specific targets. However, it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the new system. The arrangements for the appraisal of the principal by the governors are appropriate. They set the principal challenging targets in relation to learners performance, finance and college development. 62 Leaders and managers are responding well to local and national priorities for development. They have played a very effective role in starting and supporting the faith-based learning network for learning pathways. They chose to take part in the pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification from the outset and have extended it to include all level 1 and level 3 learners. The college has excellent links with its partner schools as well as primary and junior schools within the diocese. 14

19 63 The arrangements for strategic and operational planning are good. Senior managers consult staff well in relation to the plans. They base the plans effectively on a very good analysis of issues and use a wide range of appropriate data. 64 The governing body of the college carries out its work effectively. The board and its committees have members with an appropriate range of skills and experience. There are good arrangements for the training and induction of new governors. Attendance at meetings is good. The principal and senior managers provide the board with detailed information which enables board members to challenge the performance of the college. The board evaluates its own performance well through a system of risk assessment as well as using evaluative questionnaires. The clerk supports the board and its sub-committees very well. Key Question 6: How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? Grade 1: Good with outstanding features 65 The college's quality assurance system is very effective at improving outcomes for learners. Staff across the college implement quality assurance systems consistently well. 66 All staff use target-setting very effectively. Teachers regularly discuss targets with individual learners. They consistently challenge learners to achieve above their target minimum grades. Learners' targets inform those at course and divisional level. Staff at all levels link targets to appropriate benchmarks to evaluate the achievements of learners and the college as a whole. 67 Data on the performance of learners is set out in a clear and accessible format and teachers use the information confidently when measuring the success of their courses. Course teams play a strong role in the quality assurance process and this contributes to an effective team ethos throughout the college. There is excellent use of value-added analyses to measure how well learners achieve in A level courses compared to their starting points. Staff use data rigorously to drive improvements forward. 68 Divisional and course reviews are highly detailed, evaluative and self-critical. The reviews benefit from analysis of a wide range of first-hand evidence. All course teams regularly use this evidence as part of their monitoring of course action plans and course performance at regular team meetings. Action plans are specific and measurable. Team meetings regularly involve discussion of learners' individual progress and the progress of groups against course team targets and action plans. 69 The work of the governors quality and curriculum sub-committee is very effective in monitoring learners' outcomes. The committee receives a good level of detailed information on learners outcomes and the overall performance of divisions. Assistant Senior Managers now present their divisional reviews to this sub-committee and there is a good level of challenge. 15

20 70 Leaders and managers quickly identify any courses that are underperforming and they take effective and robust action to address shortcomings. Outstanding practice The college s Results Improvement Strategy is proving highly effective in improving results where learner outcomes have been declining for a number of years. The strategy requires relevant course teams to submit lesson plans, assessment schedules and samples of assessed work to senior staff. Divisional assistant senior managers also observe teaching sessions. Student course representatives are consulted once every half term and student course evaluations are administered every half term. Course teams review attendance figures every three weeks and course co-ordinators evaluate progress against the course team action plan every term. Teachers report that the process is rigorous, but supportive. The outcomes learners achieve are significantly improved as a result of staff involvement in the improvement strategy. In all the courses that have taken part in the strategy, learners have achieved significantly better outcomes at A level and they also make much better than predicted progress given their prior attainments at GCSE. 71 There are very good arrangements for the collection and analysis of feedback from learners. Staff use this information systematically at all levels to inform quality and planning activities. They use questionnaires, annual student focus groups and have student representatives for each course. These representatives meet regularly with course co-ordinators, and course teams discuss the feedback from students regularly in team meetings. Course teams report back to learners and these responses feed into course action plans where appropriate. The college uses data from student questionnaires at divisional and whole-college levels to look at relevant trends and issues. 72 The recently-developed questionnaire for parents and guardians provides relevant and detailed feedback on courses and the college in general. The associate principal for quality and the curriculum follows up personally all critical comments signed by a parent or guardian. This information also strengthens the evidence base for evaluating the pastoral support programme. 73 The college functional areas and the pastoral support programme are now fully integrated into college quality assurance procedures. There is too much variation in the quality of functional area reviews. Observations of pastoral activities are not always detailed or evaluative enough and the use of performance indicators to evaluate the pastoral programme is limited overall. 74 There are clear procedures for recording and dealing with complaints. The number of complaints is very small. However, the complaints and the college s response to them are not formally reported to governors. 75 All staff undertake peer observations. Observers do not award grades, but they must record no more than seven strengths and identify at least three areas for 16

21 improvement. Observations are evaluative and provide constructive feedback. Assistant senior managers monitor the quality of these observations and agree with course co-ordinators the actions needed for improvement. This often leads to staff development sessions where staff share good practice. 76 Overall, the self-assessment report prepared by the college is evaluative and provides a good, accurate summary of strengths and weaknesses in learning areas and across the college as a whole. The evaluations lead effectively to detailed quality development plans. The self-assessment of learning areas tends to use data on performance more effectively to support the evaluations than the sections on Key Questions 3 to 7, even though the relevant data is readily available in other college documents. 77 The college has addressed all but one of the recommendations from the last inspection in It has yet to address fully the previous recommendation to set out the cost implications within its annual operating statement. Overall, there is a very close match between the findings of the inspection team and the grades awarded in the college self-assessment report. Where grades differ, the inspection team awarded a higher grade than the college. Key Question 7: How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? Grade 2: Good features and no important shortcomings 78 Staff are generally well-qualified and experienced. A high proportion are graduates and many are teacher-trained. However, no member of staff currently holds a qualification in basic skills at level 3 or above. Technician support is limited in a number of learning areas. All staff have appropriate job descriptions. Just under 10% of staff have some fluency in Welsh and a further 10% undertook training in Welsh last year, but there is no bilingual teaching in the college. 79 The management and delivery of functional areas have improved significantly over the last year due to the recruitment of specialist staff. There are very positive relations with employees and high levels of consultation with all staff. 80 Staff development links well to strategic priorities, for example in relation to the development of the virtual learning environment, the management of resources and the renewal of the college mission. The college uses staff expertise effectively to provide in-house training and to share good practice. New teachers receive excellent induction and support during their probationary period. 81 The quality of the accommodation is good overall and significant improvements have taken place since the last inspection, for example the new chapel, hairdressing salon, film studio and conference room facilities. The college uses its accommodation in very cost-effective ways. Most teaching rooms are in regular use and the average size of teaching groups is high. 82 The college has a compact teaching day with learners beginning at 9.25am and finishing at 3.30pm. The management of teaching time is efficient and effective. 17

22 83 The quality of learning resources is generally good, especially the handouts and other materials prepared by staff to support learning. Learners have access to a suitable range of books, journals and other centrally-based learning resources. The quality of the learning resource centre is good and learners use it well throughout the day. 84 The development of the virtual learning environment is a good feature. Learners and staff use it well both in-house and through the faith-based learning network. Learners generally have good access to computers and the ratio of computers to learners is high. Staff use the ICT equipment in classrooms well, including projectors and interactive whiteboards. 85 A sustainable development policy is in place and the college is beginning to reduce its energy costs and to recycle materials in a systematic way. 86 The college had a surplus last year and is forecasting a smaller surplus this year. Financial management of curriculum provision has improved significantly although financial reporting arrangements do not allow for timely monitoring of expenditure against budgets by budget holders. The resource cost implications within the annual operating statement of the strategic plan are not clear enough. The college has identified how best to develop its estate, but the plans for funding the proposed developments are unclear. 87 The college depends heavily on funds from the Welsh Assembly Government. There are few opportunities for the college to generate substantial further income, but it has received significant funding (about 500k) for special projects and activities linked to national priorities, for example through its involvement in the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification pilot, for which it receives about 200k. The college has used these funds well to support the development of the Welsh Baccalaureate alongside its well-established pastoral and general religious education programme. 88 Many learners complete and attain qualifications at all levels at a good or outstanding rate. Overall, learners attain qualifications at a rate far higher than that predicted by their previous attainments. The profile of grades from the inspection of learning areas is good. All learners enrolled in the areas inspected are in good or outstanding provision. The college uses its resources in very cost-effective ways. It responds robustly and effectively to any under-performance in courses. Its heavy investment in the pastoral programme is bearing fruit in terms of improved attainment by learners. Overall, the college is providing good value for money. 18

23 Standards achieved by learners in learning areas inspected 02. Science and mathematics Grade 1: Good with outstanding features 89 The college provides a wide range of courses in science and mathematics at level 3. These include mathematics, statistics, further mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and psychology at AS and A2 as well as the BTEC national award in applied science. There are also courses in GCSE mathematics and science at level 2. Learners not yet ready to do GCSE mathematics can study the Free-Standing Mathematics Qualification (FSMQ). 90 Standards are very good in nearly all classes in mathematics and statistics. Nearly all learners gain good mathematical and statistical skills as they progress through their courses. Learners use graphical calculators very well, particularly in A level statistics. When challenged, most learners demonstrate a good understanding of mathematical principles. 91 Learners in chemistry, physics and biology achieve very good standards. They gain very good practical skills. They can use apparatus confidently and they can relate experimental results to underlying theory well. They demonstrate very good research and analytical skills. In A level chemistry, for instance, learners in one session carried out a detailed scientific investigation using a very good range of experimental techniques. In a few lessons across the learning area, learners do not always discuss the relevance and validity of their experimental findings enough. 92 In psychology, learners have very good knowledge and understanding of different theories of behaviour. They discuss the significance of different theories and learn to relate these to the results of tests they carry out in lessons. Outstanding outcomes The grades that learners achieve on A level courses are frequently outstanding. In 2006, the percentage of learners achieving a grade A in A2 was 10 percentage points or more above the average in schools and colleges in Wales in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. The percentage of learners achieving A-C grades was also very high in all science and mathematics subjects. The percentage achieving A-E pass grades was higher in all subjects than the average across Wales. The results were much better in 2006 than in The rates at which learners complete courses are also very good. Learners results are much better than predicted from their GCSE scores.in nearly all subjects, the grades that most learners attain at AS and A2 level are much better than those that would have been predicted from their previous attainment at GCSE. Learners with poorer GCSE scores do particularly well. 19

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