29 Nov

St David’s Celebrates Inspection Success

St David's Sixth Form has been hailed a beacon of excellence and one of the top colleges in England and Wales.

In November 2010 education inspectorate Estyn has awarded the college the top marks possible following its recent inspection. It is the first college in Wales to achieve this standard under the new inspection framework introduced last year. The team of inspectors praised staff and pupils for ensuring overall success rates were higher than in other colleges in the country and has highlighted the college’s Welsh Baccalaureate programme as an example of good practice

Summing up St David’s academic success, the report concludes: “The success rates on most courses are above or well above those in other further education colleges in Wales. The college’s overall success rates are high at all levels of study. The college has sustained this high level of performance over the last three years. Its overall performance places it among the highest-performing colleges in Wales. The college also performs very well when compared with outcomes for sixth-form colleges in England.”

Among the reasons the inspection team gave for grading the college so highly included the fact that students often succeeded at a higher level than was predicted following their GCSE results.

Estyn has asked the college to provide training to staff from other Welsh colleges in areas in which it excels including the delivery of the Welsh Baccalaureate and the electronic individual learning plan (eILP) which provides students with IT based learning guidance and support. In both these areas it was deemed to be a sector leader. 

The college’s honours programme which assists the highest achieving students in applying to the top universities was also singled out for praise and inspectors pointed out that success at the college is not linked to socio-economic background. Students in receipt of the educational maintenance allowance as a group achieved an overall success rate above that achieved by those who do not receive the allowance.

The reported concluded that learning experiences were excellent overall as was the work of the senior leadership team and the care, support and guidance offered to students.

The behaviour and attitudes displayed by students were graded "very good" with many showing enthusiasm and a desire to learn. There was no evidence of problems with bullying or harassment.

Teaching was deemed to be good overall and teachers were praised for the way they plan lessons.

Commenting on the report Principal Mark Leighfield said: “Students, staff and governors are delighted that the report gives recognition to the efforts that the St David's Catholic College community makes in the pursuit of excellence and in seeking to ensure that all achieve their full potential. That the college has been judged "excellent" is a clear endorsement of the hard work undertaken by students, staff and governors. We are extremely pleased that so many sector leading features have been identified by the inspectorate. In particular, we are delighted that the report recognises not only the excellent academic outcomes but also the role of the high quality learner support, care and guidance in assisting our learners to perform to the best of the ability. This is very much related to our ethos as Wales' only Catholic sixth form college. The new system of inspection applied in Wales is widely recognised as an extremely rigorous one, that such an exceptional judgement has been secured by St David's Catholic College is a credit to our students and staff. It is they that are truly "sector leading".”