Since its last inspection just over 15 years ago, Hills Road has worked tirelessly to maintain excellence as standard and to deliver an exceptional sixth form experience.
The new Ofsted framework focuses on student experience rather than simply on results and data. The College is extremely proud of the recognition in this report for the strength, breadth and quality of the educational experience provided at the College. And, most of all, we are incredibly proud of our students.
The report reflects on the value students place on the College's ‘highly ambitious and inclusive college community’ and that 'students consider it a privilege to study at Hills Road Sixth Form College'. In particular, the report found that students ‘enjoy studying alongside other like-minded students who challenge and inspire them’ and that they have a ‘strong work ethic and dedicated focus to achieve the very top grades of which they are capable'. Students are ‘proud to take ownership of their learning’ and 'make the very best use of high-quality resources, study spaces and lunchtime workshops to achieve high grades.’
Congratulated for its ‘highly ambitious, inspirational and effective curriculum’, Ofsted recognises that learning extends ‘well beyond... academic expectations’ at Hills Road. Inspectors link this to Hills Road placing students at the heart of its planning by creating a 'wealth of enrichment opportunities that are highly effective in building students' character in preparation for their next steps'. The inspection team found that a key part of this preparation comes through the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which they praised ‘as a vehicle to develop students' ambitions and wider skills'.
The College's ‘extensive investment in specialist tutors, whose role is to support students to cope with such a demanding curriculum,’ is a key feature of the report and references the ‘decisive and highly effective action the College has taken to support students' wellbeing to enable them to excel academically.’ Similarly, highly regarded were the College’s arrangements for safeguarding which were reported as extremely well resourced and well managed.
Hills Road teaching staff are described as 'enthusiastic, skilled and highly qualified in their subjects'. ‘Teachers' use their knowledge and skills to successfully inspire and motivate students’ and ‘have developed a curriculum that is coherent and well-sequenced, and that prepares students thoroughly for higher education and employment.’
The College is also extremely proud that Ofsted could see the superb ownership that students are encouraged to take of their learning. Students were able to share how they extend their studies outside the classroom and ‘make effective use of the wide variety of academic resources that teachers provide.’ Due to the ‘extremely calm, harmonious and orderly learning environment created by teaching staff,’ students 'listen diligently to one another and are able to challenge different viewpoints appropriately.’
Communication with parents was also emphasised, with senior staff seen to ‘encourage and achieve extremely high levels of collaboration with parents and carers.’ Senior staff ‘recognise the considerable benefits of involving and informing parents in their decision-making and student progress monitoring.’ Parents of students with high needs were identified as being ‘rightly positive about the support provided by the college, not only academically but also for the well-being of their young person.’
Within the College's provision for students with high needs, 'staff are highly proficient and extremely proactive in planning the curriculum for students with SEND. Staff use assessment information and education, health and care plans very effectively to devise strategies and coordinate specialist support. Students with high needs are supported exceptionally well to integrate with their group and gain confidence in their ability.'
Principal Jo Trump said: "I am thrilled that Ofsted has continued to rate the College as Outstanding, which reflects the exceptional achievements of our college community over the past 15 years. Delivery of educational excellence is about enduring habits and values that have students at the heart of everything. And we do that so well: Ofsted or no Ofsted.
“Throughout every aspect of our work with young people, we strive for excellence, and it's wonderful to see the hard work of our staff and students recognised in this way. Later this year, we welcome the development of our new £2 million study centre that will further enhance our SEND provision and add to the high-quality learning environment our students enjoy. We look forward to maintaining and improving on these standards at Hills Road for many years to come.”
I am thrilled that Ofsted has continued to rate the College as Outstanding, which reflects the exceptional achievements of our college community over the past 15 years.Jo Trump, Principal