Briefing Paper 2

First Impressions

First impressions are key to creating the right start of a successful inspection.

From the first point of contact with the college, which begins with viewing our website, through to the initial notification phone call and the first day at college, inspectors begin to form a view of:

1) Our focus on developing and improving our core business of teaching, learning and assessment.

2) How we are meeting the needs of all members of the local community including employers.

3) Our level of organisation and planning to ensure students receive a high quality learning experience.

4) Our professionalism and customer service

As an inspector when you arrive at a college I want to experience a vibrant learning community in which students thrive and achieve their full potential. At the heart of the inspection framework is the question 'how well do colleges raise the ambitions and aspirations of their students?' The whole college environment should reflect high expectations and standards, inspire our students and extend their learning.

There are key themes which the inspection team will be looking to see displayed throughout the college in departments and central areas, these are:

1) Celebrations of our students' success stories

2) Displays of high standard student work

3) Developing our students' English and maths skills

4) Listening to our students and involving them in shaping and improving their learning experience

5) Developing our students' employability skills through links with local employers

6) Promoting progession opportunities in dfferent curriculum areas

7) Promoting equality and celebrating diversity

8) Developing our students' personal and social skills

9) Use of technology to engage and extend students' learning

10) Raising our students' awareness and providing opportunities for them to get involved in sustainability projects

Inspectors will be looking for high levels of consistency, so no matter where a student is studying in the college, their learning should be enhanced through these themes.

Have a review of your own classrooms, workshops, laboratories, corridors, learning areas, is there evidence of these themes being promoted?

First Impressions of Reading College

When inspectors arrive at the college, their first impressions will be of Reception. It is important they are made to feel welcome when they arrive, they are met promptly and shown to their base room, B2.

Inspiring Learning Environments

Once inspectors enter the college, they will get an immediate sense of the behaviour of our students, professional standards and to what extent college staff model positive attitudes and behaviour.

Inspectors will want to see consistently well organised learning environments which promote the themes outlined in this introduction. Learning environments such as these below are well organised, extend students learning and celebrate diversity.

Learning Environments in need of Improvement

Currently however, not all parts of the college are well decorated, organised and inspiring. When inspectors visit these parts of the college they will experience a very different learning environment and this will provide evidence of inconsistent practice. Inspectors will consider the quality of learning experience our students are receiving in these departments and this will contribute to a lower grade overall.

If you have areas like these in your department, can you and your team quickly improve them?