College sector overview report 2022 to 2023: Strengths

Sixteen colleges have made satisfactory progress towards their targets for improvement.

Eleven colleges need to make further improvement to the quality of provision and/or outcomes for learners.

All colleges prioritised the needs of local, national and regional stakeholders in planning and updating their curriculum offer. Overall, curriculum teams worked well with partners to design programmes that meet the various needs of prospective learners.

Most curriculum teams worked well together to plan their curriculum to provide engaging experiences for learners from the start of programmes.

Almost all colleges had invested in their learning facilities to ensure that learners have access to vocationally relevant resources and are therefore well prepared to progress to further study or employment. These significant vocational resources provide learners with hands-on experience in current workplace environments.

Almost all college managers made good use of performance dashboards to analyse performance data and identify what they need to do to improve learner outcomes.

All college and curriculum managers worked well with industry partners to enhance and widen progression pathways to employment. Curriculum teams worked flexibly and swiftly, internally and with educational partners, to adapt provision to ease progression to the next level of study.

Most colleges responded well to the recent decline in learner demand for full-time programmes and worked quickly to adapt programmes to design and provide more short, part-time provision.

All colleges took good account of the effect of the pandemic on new and potential learners. They recognised that many applicants, particularly school leavers, were underconfident about learning in a new environment and took action to alleviate anxieties.

All colleges experienced a significant increase in the number of learners seeking support for mental health and wellbeing, and almost all support teams enabled learners and staff to access support services online or face-to-face.

In most colleges, staff implemented a range of helpful approaches and interventions to support learners at risk of withdrawing early from their programme. However, it is too early to assess the impact of these on learner retention.