College based at a stately home wins lavish praise from Ofsted

A RESIDENTIAL college which provides training to adults looking to get back into education has been given an Ofsted report which not only rates it as outstanding in all areas but also takes the unusual step of saying “no improvements are required”.

Northern College
Northern College

The glowing report praises Northern College, in Barnsley, for all aspects of its work from the quality of its teaching, the support it provides to residents and the impact it has on the lives of people who study there.

The college provides education to adults who do not have any formal qualifications and are looking to take their first steps back into education.

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It also offers training for people in community and voluntary groups as well as in trade unions.

Its students range from 19 to 90 and it offers both short courses and a year long access diploma programme which aims to help people to get into higher education.

Students can live at the college at Wentworth Castle for a few days or up to a year.

The college, which is run by a charity, is one of four adult residential colleges in the country.

It has more than 6,000 students a year, the majority of which come from across Yorkshire.

The Ofsted report says: “Students’ starting point are exceptionally diverse.

“Almost all have multiple and complex barriers to learning as a result of financial difficulties, family problems, medical and mental health difficulties or a history of offending behaviour or substance misuse. Despite this almost all make good progress.

It adds: “The development of students’ personal, social and employability skills is outstanding. The rapid acquisition and further development of academic skills essential to their prospect of success at university for access diploma students is impressive. Diploma students quickly develop writing, research and independent learning skills.”

The report says that the vast majority of students who take part in an access diploma course do go on to earn a place at university and complete their degree.

It also highlights the support provided in the evening for residential students which it says provides “an informal environment which helps students to settle and make progress”.

The report also praises the college for its partnerships with trade unions and local authorities and says this ensures “learning programmes successfully meet the needs of students and transforms communities”.

College principal Jill Westerman said: “We are thrilled that Ofsted has recognised the excellence of the Northern College. It is a tribute to the work of all college staff that the inspectors did not identify a single area for improvement.

“Everyone at the college works hard to achieve the college missions – to support the transformation of lives and communities through outstanding adult education, and the inspection result celebrates our success in doing this.”