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Hills Road Sixth Form College judged outstanding in all areas by Ofsted inspectors

Hills Road Sixth Form College – a place where students say it is a “privilege to study” – continues to be ‘outstanding’ in all areas, say inspectors.

A report published after an Ofsted inspection last month found the college’s community to be “highly ambitious and inclusive”.

Hills Road Sixth Form student council members and others celebrate the Ofsted grading. Picture: Keith Heppell
Hills Road Sixth Form student council members and others celebrate the Ofsted grading. Picture: Keith Heppell

The college was awarded the top grade some 15 years after its last inspection during which it was also graded outstanding. The new Ofsted framework, which was introduced at the end of last year, focuses on student experience rather than simply on results and data.

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.”

Inspectors 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 said to be “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”.

The college is also praised for its “highly ambitious, inspirational and effective curriculum”.

Inspectors note that Hills Road places 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 Ofsted team found that a key part of this preparation comes through the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which they praise “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, which references the “decisive and highly effective action the college has taken to support students’ wellbeing to enable them to excel academically”.

Teaching staff are described as “enthusiastic, skilled and highly qualified in their subjects”.

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”, the report says.

Communication with parents is also emphasised, with senior staff seen to “encourage and achieve extremely high levels of collaboration with parents and carers”.

Parents of students with high needs are 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”.

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