Ofsted sends Sunderland College to the top of the class

Sunderland College is celebrating after a positive Ofsted inspection confirmed it as ‘Good’ and ’Outstanding’.

Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:55 am

In 2017, the college merged with Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Northumberland College in 2019 to create Education Partnership North East (EPNE).

The education watchdog carried out a full inspection in May across all EPNE campuses in Sunderland and across the region.

Inspectors met with governors, college leaders, staff, students, employers and community partners.

Sunderland College's City Campus. picture by Stu Norton.

‘Personal Development’ – the way the college’s curriculum helps students develop knowledge and skills beyond the purely academic, technical or vocational – was found to be ‘outstanding,’ with all other areas rated ‘good’.

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Ofsted reported the college’s “programmes respond effectively to national, regional and local priorities and enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they need for employment, further training and progression to higher education.”

The report stated that students benefit from a calm and focused environment, show positive attitudes to learning, enjoy their lessons and take pride in their work. It also praised the role the college plays in the communities of Sunderland, Hartlepool and Northumberland.

EPNE Chief Executive Ellen Thinnesen.

The college has three Wearside campuses: Bede Campus, City Campus and Washington Campus. It teaches more than 11,000 students a year, full and part-time.

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Sunderland College and EPNE, said: “We’re on a journey to outstanding at Sunderland and this great report is a further step toward that ambition.

“The report reflects the tremendous work and determination of our staff, students and governors to work together to provide the best possible learning experience, despite the considerable challenges we faced during the covid pandemic.

“It was great to be able to share with inspectors how we align our curriculum to socio-economic need and that, as an outcome, 94% of our students progress into higher level study or employment.”

Sunderland College principal Toni Rhodes said: “While we’re delighted at the overall grade, and in particular with what the inspectors said about teaching and student behaviours, we’re thrilled about the outstanding grade for the personal development of our students.”

James Stuart, chair of the board of corporation for EPNE, said: “I’m delighted with the report and very proud of our talented and dedicated team who’ve worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances to deliver great teaching and support."