Palmer’s College receives highly critical inspection report from Ofsted

EDUCATION watchdog, Ofsted has written a high critical report after inspecting Palmer’s College in Grays.

The report has graded the college as "Requires Improvement" and may mark a low point for the sixth form college that, just a few years ago, was rated as "Outstanding".

Ofsted inspected the college over four days from December 1st to December 4th 2015.

Among the main criticisms made are:

1. Although leaders and managers have arrested the  decline in the college’s performance noted at the previous inspection, and brought about some improvements, the quality of provision remains of too low a standard in too many subjects.

2. Standards are too low on level 2 vocational courses, and too many learners fail to complete their programmes successfully.

3. A significant proportion of lessons fail to inspire, challenge and motivate learners to achieve high standards, and not enough teachers have the highest expectations of what all learners can achieve.

4. On A-level courses, learners in most subjects do not make sufficiently rapid progress in comparison with their starting points, and too few achieve high grades.

Both the volume and the quality of learners’ independent work are too inconsistent between subjects.

5. Attendance at a significant minority of lessons is low.

6. Learners on most vocational courses do not benefit from external work experience in commercial environments.

Ofsted did state that Palmer’s College has the following strengths.

1. The proportion of learners who complete their qualifications successfully has risen and is high.

2. Gaps in achievement between male and female learners, and between those who need extra help with their studies and those who do not, have been closed successfully.

3. Learners’ awareness of, and understanding of how to keep themselves safe from, a broad range of potential risks to their well-being is good.

If you drill down into the report, many may be concerned at the references to behaviour.

For example: "In a significant number of lessons learners, although compliant, are largely passive recipients of learning materials, teachers’ explanations and questioning that do not demand enough of them. In many lessons, it is too easy for learners to be bystanders in their own learning because teachers do not do enough to make them think hard, explain ideas in depth or work at a rapid pace.

" Teachers do not always insist on high professional standards in their lessons. For example, in a minority of lessons some learners arrive late, wear their coats and are not equipped with organised note files. In a very small minority of lessons, some learners disrupt the learning of others. For example, in one lesson a small number of recalcitrant learners captured all of the teacher’s attention, with the consequence that the rest of the group made very little progress".

YT has requested a statement from the principal of Palmer’s College but has not received one at the time of publication.

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