MID Cheshire College has gone from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’ in seven years, according to education watchdogs Ofsted.

The college achieved the top rating of outstanding in all areas following an inspection in November 2008.

However that rating has fallen to inadequate, the lowest of the four ratings, in all but one of the areas looked at by Ofsted, following an inspection in January.

Mid Cheshire College has sites at Hartford and Winsford, and caters for about 2,600 students, two-thirds of who are full-time 16 to 19-year-olds.

The areas Ofsted focused on in January were the effectiveness of the leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare, outcomes for learners, 16 to 19 and study programmes and adult learning programmes.

They were all classed as inadequate, with the college earning a rating of good for the other area looked at, apprenticeships.

College principal Richard Hollywood said: “Nearly 90 per cent of our students progress on to further learning, go on to an apprenticeship or into work after leaving Mid Cheshire College, and 94 per cent of our learners say they would recommend us to their friends.

“Prior to inspection we were already bringing about positive change through an Improvement Plan and Ofsted recognised this during their visit.

“Ofsted also recognised the excellent work we do with employers, especially through the apprenticeship delivery, with the report stating ‘Apprenticeship provision is extensive and meets learner and employer needs well.’

“We now look forward to working with Ofsted to bring about further improvements and are confident that Mid Cheshire College will continue on the journey to be one of the very best specialist vocational colleges in the region.”

The Ofsted report said the overall effectiveness of the college was inadequate, and Ofsted has outlined a series of measures it says the college needs to implement to improve.

The report identifies nine key areas where it says the college is inadequate.

It says too many students leave their courses before completing their qualifications, and senior leaders have allowed the quality of provision to fall to ‘unacceptably low standards’.

“Success rates in English and mathematics for 16 to 19-year-olds, and the development of learners’ English and mathematics skills are poor,” said the report.

“Learners’ progress on 16 to 19 study programmes and adult learning programmes is poor, and many do not achieve the high grades they are capable of.

“Leaders do not have an accurate overview of the quality of teaching and learning and the extent of weak teaching across the college.

“Reports to governors do not provide sufficient detail about learners’ performance, progress or success rates in order for governors to challenge senior leaders effectively.”

The planning, co-ordination and vetting of external work experience placements was inadequate, it said, and safeguarding was ineffective.

The report praised the college’s well-managed apprenticeship programmes and the progress of students with high needs and those who need specialist support.

“Senior leaders and governors have identified many key areas where the college needs to improve, but have not acted quickly enough to raise the quality of provision so that all learners make good progress and achieve positive outcomes,” said the report.

“A new senior leadership team has started to make changes, but so far has had insufficient impact on raising standards.

“Teachers’ expectations of what learners can achieve are too low, and consequently only a minority of learners meet or exceed their minimum targets.

“Teachers do not challenge learners well enough, which results in low-level disruption and poor behaviour in a minority of lessons. Attendance during the inspection was low in a significant proportion of lessons.”

It added that punctuality was poor in a significant minority of lessons, teachers were overly reliant on a narrow range of teaching methods, and careers education, information, advice and guidance were ineffective.