Staff and students at East Kent College are celebrating after receiving five ‘Outstanding’ gradings in their recent inspection by Government standards watchdog Ofsted.
The inspection took place between 24 January and 27 January 2017, and saw 10 Ofsted Inspectors investigating areas of the College which included its 16-19 provision, apprenticeships and the Technical School.
This was the first Ofsted inspection since the College amalgamated with the former K College campuses at Dover and Folkestone. They had previously been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, making the turnaround even more pronounced. It makes East Kent College one of the highest rated further education colleges in the country, and is the best inspection grading for an FE college so far this year.
The inspection highlighted a range of strengths at the College, with Inspectors stating the College boasted exceptional progress of apprentices, outstanding provision for work experience, very good levels of progression and exceptionally effective and productive community engagement and partnership working.
East Kent College’s Principal, Graham Razey, said: “This inspection has highlighted just how far the College has come since 2013. Our Dover and Folkestone campuses had previously been neglected as part of K College, and were considered inadequate. The fact they’re now thought of as ‘outstanding’ for five of the nine areas inspected by Ofsted, and good for the other four, is testament to just how hard all of our staff have worked and I’m really proud of the grading which reflects that.”
The College has also been congratulated by all of its local MPs, including South Thanet’s Craig Mackinlay.
Mr Mackinlay said: “This is fantastic news, not just for the College, but for our community. I know all the team at the College have been working immensely hard over the last few years to achieve these ratings, and they should be tremendously proud of what they have accomplished in such a short space of time.”
The journey for the College has been made easier by the work of many local partners, with Dover District Council pledging to develop the skills agenda in the district.
Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “Well done East Kent College on delivering such a strong offer for local people. We’re delighted to see the investment in their Dover campus and at Discovery Park in Sandwich, and have been impressed with the commitment we’ve seen from the management, staff and students.”
This becomes the first grading the College has received since amalgamating the Folkestone and Dover Campuses. Council leader for Shepway District Council, David Monk, said that it had been a great success and he was very proud of the work done to ensure a strong FE provision for his district.
Cllr Monk said: “A few years ago we helped avert the threat of closure of Folkestone’s further education campus for our local students, so I am obviously delighted that Ofsted recognises the great improvement in standards achieved by East Kent College.
“I have great faith in the management of Graham Razey and his staff team whose achievements are recognised by the Ofsted report and The Radnor Park Tea Room stands as a testament to what their students can achieve in partnership with us.”
It was a message echoed by Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins, who said: “It has been fantastic to watch the progress made by East Kent College. The recognition given by Ofsted to the improvements made by the College is a reflection of the hard work and commitment shown by both managing and teaching staff. Staff and students should be incredibly proud of their five ‘Outstanding’ ratings and their overall ‘Good’ grading.”
Dover and Deal MP, Charlie Elphicke also congratulated the College, saying that he was proud to have supported it and looked forward to watching it grow in the future.
Mr Elphicke said: “I’m delighted Ofsted has recognised the efforts of Graham Razey and the East Kent College team. Good teaching of subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths is vital for the future of the local and national economy. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or where you come from – if you want to learn new skills then you must be given the chance. That’s why I pushed to get a fair funding deal for the college. I’m proud to hear them say it has helped them focus on the things that really matter.”
Thanet District Council Leader, Chris Wells highlighted the importance of strong further education provision to develop the skills the local economy needed, saying he was proud his council could call East Kent College a strategic partner.
Cllrs Wells said: “Graham Razey and his team have successfully raised the status and value of East Kent College since becoming Principal in April 2010. He has moved Thanet from an area where further education was the preserve of the few to a viable option for many young people, providing them with the skills that are needed in a fast evolving job market. Ofsted has recognised these achievements which have been hard earned and Thanet District Council is proud to call itself a strategic partner.”