Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 15.06.56Employers and North East business leaders have applauded news that Gateshead College has won the coveted ‘outstanding’ status in an Ofsted inspection.

The report praised the college’s dynamic principal and championed the vision to develop strong partnerships with regional employers such as Vantec and Nissan UK and organisations like the NHS. Ofsted cited outstanding employability skills among learners, giving them the ‘employment edge’ in a difficult North East jobs market.

Gateshead College is one of only two FE colleges to be recognised as outstanding this academic year. The college is exceeding national targets for its performance, with a success rate cited as ‘exceptionally high for all learners’ at 8.2% above the national average.

James Rams Botham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “Gateshead College is an important strategic asset within Tyne and Wear and is at the forefront of working with business, developing flexible ways to address the skills needs of local employers. Not only do its students leave with qualifications, they leave with the life skills needed to embark on the world of work.

“We’re delighted to see the college get this outstanding status. Gateshead College not only delivers outstanding academic skills, but the skills our members need in everyday business and in years to come its students may well be North East business leaders of the future. Our partnership with Gateshead College means we’re able to work closely with them alongside regional businesses, meeting emerging skill gaps and encouraging young people to meet their full potential.”

Chris Lamb, head of Vantec’s Logistics Centre of Excellence, Sunderland, added: “We’re committed to developing our workforce and Gateshead College has become an invaluable partner in our recruitment and training programme. The college has been innovative and highly flexible in its approach and completely focused on aligning training with our needs.”

Gateshead College is currently putting Vantec’s permanent staff through training programmes that are tailored to the company’s specific business needs, with 800 employees set to embark on training by 2018. Eligible staff will complete a 12-month adult apprenticeship in warehousing. Vantec staff will also work towards a qualification in managing the supply chain, which is recognised by the Institute of Supply Chain Management.

Ofsted praised the outstanding feedback learners receive from a very wide range of employers. Learners are impressing those in industry with their English and mathematics skills, confidence, highly positive attitude to work, attendance and punctuality.

Learners, who are exceeding national achievement targets, go into highly sought after careers and with prestigious employers, says the report, including the Royal Marines and The Ritz, London. Gateshead College was also praised for the high proportion of its learners achieving places at Russell Group universities.

Robin Mackie, chairman of Gateshead College and business leader, said: “This Ofsted report places Gateshead College at the forefront of FE in the country. It is the result of a fantastic team effort led by Judith and I am thankful to every single partner and colleague that has worked very hard to achieve such a great result.

“I am delighted that Ofsted acknowledged the outstanding partnerships the college has with employers and business organisations like the CBI and NECC to ensure the curriculum is relevant to the local area and regional priorities.”

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive, said: “I am very proud of this outstanding achievement. It reflects both the efforts of teaching staff but also the strong partnership work with local business organisations and employers. Our outstanding results have been made possible because we have shaped the curriculum to meet the needs of the local market.

“Businesses have told us they want a strong mix of soft skills along with specific industry relevant qualifications. Employers have provided great work experience opportunities for our learners to ensure they’re both motivated and equipped to enter the world of work.”

Ofsted inspectors complemented college staff for developing outstanding links with a high number of local employers providing training, apprenticeships, bespoke training and work experience opportunities.

The Ofsted announcement follows recent recognition from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) that Gateshead College was the top performing college in the North East of England and the 3rd best in the country (out of 218 colleges) for success rates and the number of Level 2 courses. The positions are based on FE tables for success rates based on the numbers of students staying on at college and successfully gaining qualifications.

For full Ofsted report – http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/130551