Following an inspection in November 2023, Ofsted has published its findings and graded St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College good with outstanding features.
Personal development and provision for learners with high needs were both graded outstanding, while good grades were received for quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, leadership and management and education programmes for young people.
The inspectors recognised that ‘staff and students respect the college’s core values and religious ethos.’ These are reinforced through ‘interesting ethical and religious discussions in their weekly religion and philosophy lessons.’ The students’ tutorial programme was also ‘exceptionally high quality’ and it was noted how positively students speak of the ‘welcoming nature of the college.’
The report states that ‘students enjoy their lessons and recognise the value of their studies’ and ‘staff swiftly and robustly challenge students when their behaviour occasionally falls short of the high expectations leaders and staff set.’ The students also ‘make a positive contribution to the local community through the chaplaincy and well-organised house system’ and most ‘would recommend the college to their friends.’
Alongside their studies, students ‘enjoy the wide range of enrichment activities on offer…such as football, netball and theatre trips.’ They also ‘make use of the gym facilities to support their physical and mental well-being…helping students, including those with high needs to become more resilient, confident and independent.’
Inspectors were also impressed by the college’s safeguarding management and procedures, noting that ‘students are clear on safeguarding procedures and when students raise issues about safeguarding or safety…staff respond quickly and effectively. Students feel safe at college.’
The college’s understanding of local and regional skills needs was recognised as very effective. Leaders, managers and teachers ‘work closely with stakeholders…to identify priority skills accurately’ and ‘use this knowledge to plan their curriculums so they meet skills shortages.’ Governors and leaders ‘have a clear and ambitious vision for the college and this is reflected in the curriculums they offer.’ This vision is reinforced by leaders and managers who ‘rigorously monitor the quality of education they provide.’
The inspectors observed lessons across a wide range of subjects and the report states that ‘well-qualified teachers with strong subject knowledge use effective teaching methods to help students understand and apply what they learn.’ Teachers have ‘high expectations of students’ work’ and ‘give students useful written and verbal feedback that helps them improve their work over time.’ Teaching methods include utilising ‘a range of stimulating activities…that make students think hard’ and ‘adapting their teaching to make sure that all students benefit from the lessons.’
High needs students are ‘very successfully integrated into academic and vocational programmes.’ Inspectors noted that ‘teachers and support staff jointly and very effectively adapt and tailor their teaching, ensuring that students with high needs achieve well or better than their peers.’
The report also states that careers guidance is comprehensive and delivered via ‘weekly tutorials and high-quality advice from impartial careers staff’, ensuring that ‘students are clear on their progression routes from and early stage in their studies.’ Students receive ‘excellent guidance about university, employment and apprenticeship options throughout their time at college.’
College Principal Graham Thompson said ‘We are delighted that Ofsted have recognised the high quality of teaching, support, advice and opportunities we strive to provide students at St Francis Xavier Catholic Sixth Form College. We work very hard to ensure our students succeed in their studies and develop the skills needed to succeed in their future education and careers. The report findings have clearly shown that our students receive high quality, skills-focused education and careers support from well-qualified staff in a supportive and safe environment.’