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Callywith College

2020 Full Inspection Report
What does the provider do well and what does it need to do better?

Governors, leaders and managers have a clear and ambitious vision for the college. They have developed a curriculum which raises the aspirations and achievements of its students and improves the life chances of young people living in one of the poorest regions in the UK. Since the opening of Callywith College in September 2017, leaders, managers and staff have worked tirelessly to create a culture of high expectations for all. Their dedicated focus on relentlessly providing a wide range of carefully designed academic and vocational learning programmes, and high-quality teaching, assessment and support is highly successful. As a result of everyone’s combined efforts, almost all students who join the college stay on their programmes. They go on to make good or outstanding progress towards their curriculum and personal goals and achieve their qualifications.

The curriculum is highly effective in enabling students to reach their long-term aspirations. In 2018/19, all students who left the college progressed to further learning. Three quarters went to higher education. Just under two thirds of these students were the first in their family to attend a university. The remaining students have gained employment, started an apprenticeship or continued with further study or training.

The curriculum offered is broad, purposeful and challenging. It meets local and regional needs well. Many students choose the college because of the wide range of academic and vocational programmes on offer. This means they can combine and study the subjects they need to progress successfully onto higher education or employment. For example, in science, business, art and design, and health and social care, the curriculum content meets the need of local employers and ensures that students develop new knowledge and practise workplace skills such as marketing, scientific research and laboratory skills.

Teachers understand well what the curriculum is preparing students to know and be able to do by the end of their subject or course. Nearly all teachers plan and design the curriculum carefully, and sequence it logically. They teach and consolidate foundation learning and key concepts, which build students’ knowledge over time. Curriculum planning includes a wide range of teaching and assessment methods and a broad tutorial programme. Students have access to relevant work experience, work-related opportunities and work with community groups. As a result, students extend their knowledge, skills and behaviours significantly from their starting points. For example, students studying A-level law benefit from taking part in ‘Bar mock trial’ competitions against other students in the county. A-level business students benefit considerably when studying the Eden Project business plan.

Teachers have a passion for the subjects they teach. They have excellent subject knowledge and vocational experience. For example, in art and design, many teachers are practising artists, which means students are learning current practice from industry specialists.

Most teachers present information in a way that students find interesting, easy to understand and enjoyable. Teachers use stimulating teaching and learning strategies, such as critiquing film footage, peer review of work, digital quizzes and card games. They use questioning frequently and effectively to repeat and check students’ learning.

Many teachers produce high-quality teaching materials, which they use very well in lessons to motivate students and stimulate their interest in the subject. They have developed a wide range of high-quality online learning resources. They provide links to podcasts, videos and online articles. Students find these extremely useful, because they can recap the learning which has taken place in lessons and develop their independent learning skills.

Assessment is mostly frequent and carefully ordered, which ensures that students can make excellent progress towards achieving their curricular goals. Most teachers provide students with high-quality feedback. This includes the use of specific technical or professional language and strategies to help them improve their work. However, a small minority of teachers do not set students challenging enough short-term targets or provide timely and detailed feedback to help them improve or increase their knowledge beyond the minimum expectations of the qualifications.

Most students attend additional academic academies, the study plus programmes and study the extended project qualification. They develop extensive new knowledge and are prepared very well for their next steps in employment or further study. For example, students attending the Medics academy learn to suture by first practising on a banana, which replicates the feeling of skin, before moving on to synthetic skin, and those studying computer games design develop extensive new knowledge by using new industry-standard software.

Most students take considerable pride in their work and produce written and practical work of a high standard. They produce comprehensive notes in lessons, which prepares them very well for examinations.

Students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, make significant progress in developing their personal and social skills. They participate in and benefit from meaningful work experience or work-related study. For example, in health and social care a few students interested in midwifery worked at a birthing unit in a local hospital. However, students do not routinely use this experience to identify strengths and areas for improvement, or to inform future career plans.

Many students are interested in wider issues such as current affairs and follow the news with interest. Students understand the fundamentals of British values. They know that the comparative lack of diversity in the region means they do not experience the full diversity of British society. However, they meet students from diverse backgrounds through external visits and attending national events. External speakers offer students insight into life beyond Cornwall. For example, a speaker shared the story of his life growing up in Uganda in a way that celebrated the things all young people, from different backgrounds, have in common.

Students are enthusiastic about their education and are keen to learn. They are always polite and exceptionally well behaved. Relationships between students and staff are extremely positive. Attendance rates are high. Student representatives make a significant contribution towards improving the college. For example, their feedback has helped make the college more environmentally sustainable.

Students benefit from high-quality individualised careers advice and guidance from staff. This helps them decide on which subjects to study and prepares them very well for their next steps.

Students with SEND and high needs and those from disadvantaged backgrounds receive highly effective additional support from staff and a range of external agencies. This enables them to continue with their studies, become more independent and make progress in line with their peers. For example, case studies show that vulnerable students such as refugees, who begin studying at level 2, are successful in gaining places at universities. However, a few teachers of the small cohort of students who have high needs do not always refine the teaching strategies used to ensure that students make significant progress in achieving their precise education, health and care plan targets.

Governors, leaders and managers clearly understand local needs, issues and aspirations. They have been highly effective in managing the establishment of a new college, its culture and the significant growth in student numbers. Governors have a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the college. They use their wide range of skills and specialist expertise well to support and hold leaders to account for the quality of the education provided.

Report Recommendations