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Riverside College

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

Leaders have exceptional links with local employers and regional business groups, including the local enterprise partnership and regional mayoral authorities. They collaborate with them to create a challenging curriculum designed to help learners and apprentices achieve their ambitious career goals.

Managers have reviewed the curriculum to ensure that there are clear progression routes for learners and apprentices. For example, a pre-apprenticeship course prepares learners well by developing the employability skills and confidence they need to apply for a job with apprenticeship training. Managers have ensured that the vast majority of learners have access to an ambitious curriculum. For example, the science and technology curriculums are planned in collaboration with SciTech.

Managers have built very strong and highly effective relationships with subcontractors. They make sure that all subcontractors deliver a curriculum that meets local needs exceptionally well. For example, the curriculum delivered by subcontractors has reduced the number of young people and adults who are not in education, employment or training in Widnes and Runcorn. The curriculum ensures that disadvantaged learners develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. A very high proportion progress into further study, volunteering or employment.

Teachers and trainers are well qualified and benefit from high-quality professional development that develops their subject knowledge and expertise. For example, in catering, teachers have had training in chocolatiering and cake modelling. Teachers in engineering receive regular updates from specialist German engineers on renewable energy and solar systems. Senior leaders ensure that learners and apprentices benefit from high-quality up-to-date equipment and resources. For example, painting and decorating apprentices skilfully use specialist airless spray equipment while safely working on scaffolding.

Learners and apprentices enjoy an extremely well planned curriculum, which means they gain significant new knowledge and skills quickly. They gain the attitudes and behaviours they need to progress to higher levels of study or work. For example, A-level science learners gain an insight into working in medicine through meaningful work experience in the NHS. Apprentices in engineering skilfully use a milling machine to create threads and screws.

Leaders, managers and teachers have developed a high-quality curriculum that widens learners’ and apprentices’ experiences and life skills. Learners and apprentices plan and support charity events and projects and take part in fundraising appeals. For example, engineering apprentices designed and built equipment for the Invictus Games so that athletes with physical disabilities could take part in throwing events. Many learners compete in vocational competitions and visit local and national employers and other organisations, including universities. For example, construction learners take part in the national Skill Build competitions. As a result, learners extend their technical, practical and life skills so that they can live productive lives and make very good progress towards their ambitious career goals.

Teachers and assessors use especially effective teaching and assessment strategies. They use learners’ and apprentices’ starting points very well to plan a demanding curriculum. They identify what learners and apprentices understand and can do and plan very well to address any misconceptions they may have. They teach the curriculum in a logical order, building very well on previous learning. They provide frequent opportunities for learners and apprentices to practise their skills and to recall and develop their knowledge. For example, health and social care learners gain knowledge of safeguarding and dealing with challenging behaviour before they start their work placements. Biology learners can explain the theory behind the swelling caused by sports injuries.

Assessors, in conjunction with employers, ensure that apprentices benefit from excellent and well-planned on- and off-the-job training. Apprentices receive high levels of support from their employers. For example, business administration apprentices can hone their skills in event management so that they are able to lead events independently.

Teachers and assessors place a great emphasis on the development of literacy and numeracy skills. As a result, learners and apprentices use the correct technical language fluently. For example, catering learners use the correct terms for vegetable cuts such as batons, julienne and mirepoix. They can calculate accurately the amount of ingredients needed and cooking times. Adults on beauty courses can pronounce and spell correctly the names of the muscles in the body.

Teachers and assessors make sure that learners and apprentices develop the skills they need for future study or work, such as problem-solving and communication skills. For example, learners in catering attend external commercial events, where they develop teamworking skills and better understand the pressures of the industry.

Learners who have high needs receive very effective specialist support. Managers and teachers coordinate their transition into college and specialist support very well. They use learners’ education, health and care plans to identify accurately the individual support necessary. Learners who have high needs and study on vocational or academic courses make exceptional progress. Most learners on foundation learning courses make good progress. However, in a few instances, the planned curriculum does not allow the more confident learners to make progress quickly enough.

Managers, teachers and staff provide learners and apprentices with excellent and impartial careers information, advice and guidance before and during their programmes. They make well-informed and aspirational choices about their course and future career options, with only a few learners opting to change their course or leave the college.

Learners on Advanced-level programmes greatly benefit from the ‘prestigious universities’ programme that facilitates successful applications to universities. Consequently, most progress into higher education, with a significant number going to the best universities. There are especially high levels of achievement for learners and apprentices. A high proportion of Advanced-level learners achieve high grades on their course.

Leadership and management are outstanding. Senior leaders and governors are very ambitious for their learners and apprentices. They are committed to providing a highquality education, which means that learners and apprentices achieve their full potential. Staff at all levels have high aspirations for their learners and apprentices. Consequently, learners and apprentices who study here do exceptionally well.

Senior leaders and governors promote especially high standards in all aspects of the college. A culture of relentless self-improvement and continuous improvement permeates the college. Senior leaders accurately identify good practice and quickly address any areas requiring improvement. Consequently, learners and apprentices benefit from very high quality teaching and learning.

Governors have high aspirations for their learners, apprentices and staff. Governors are rightly very proud of what the college provides for the local community and employers in the region. Governors consistently hold senior leaders to account to sustain and further improve the quality of provision for all learners and apprentices. They act swiftly and incisively to eradicate the very few areas of underperformance.

2010 Full Inspection Report
What does Riverside College Halton need to do to improve further?
  • Sustain and improve pass rates and the progress that learners make in the small number of underperforming courses. Increase the use of data to evaluate the progress that GCE A-level learners make in their learning and achievement compared to their prior attainment and ability.
  • Improve the small number of lessons where learners are not sufficiently challenged by their work. Use questioning in lessons that develops learners’ understanding more fully. Ensure that more able learners achieve the high grades of which they are capable.
  • Increase the participation of full-time learners in enrichment programmes to widen their broader learning experience at the college.
  • Build upon existing work to ensure that the level and type of programmes offered will more closely match the needs and interests of learners. Consistently use learners’ and employers’ views more effectively to review the range and quality of programmes in all areas, so that their perspective informs the future direction of the college.

2008 Full Inspection Report
Areas for improvement

The college should address:

  • the pace of actions to improve learners’ chances of success
  • inadequate provision in six of the areas inspected and most GCE provision
  • the quality of teaching and learning
  • ineffective one-to-one reviews and tracking of students’ progress
  • the rigour of advice and guidance
  • the accuracy and clarity of self-assessment and quality improvement
  • the rigour of performance monitoring and target setting to bring about improvement.

2004 Re-Inspection Report


2002 Full Inspection Report
What should be improved
  • pre-course counselling to ensure the appropriate placing of students on courses
  • students' timekeeping and attendance
  • low retention rates on many courses
  • low levels of attainment on some courses
  • poor provision in basic skills
  • commercial experience of teachers in some vocational areas
  • use of IT as an integral part of lessons
  • dissemination of good practice across the college
  • effectiveness of some teaching to meet individual needs.

Report Recommendations