School etc

Alton College

Alton College
Old Odiham Road

phone: 01420 592200

principal: Ms Jane Machell

school holidays: via Hampshire council

16 Plus — Further Education

Education phase
16 Plus
Establishment type
Further Education
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 471726, Northing: 140156
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 51.156, Longitude: -0.97577
Accepting pupils
16—99 years old
Ofsted last inspection
Sept. 29, 2009
Region › Const. › Ward
South East › East Hampshire › Alton Eastbrooke
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Investor in People
Committed IiP Status
Further education type
Sixth Form College (General)
Learning provider ref #
Further & higher education #

rooms to rent in Alton

Schools nearby

  1. 0.2 miles Anstey Junior School GU342DR (229 pupils)
  2. 0.2 miles Bushy Leaze Early Years Centre GU342DR (61 pupils)
  3. 0.3 miles Saint Lawrence Church of England Primary School GU342BY (167 pupils)
  4. 0.3 miles Amery Hill School GU342BZ
  5. 0.3 miles Amery Hill School GU342BZ (849 pupils)
  6. 0.4 miles Alton Infant School GU341DH (176 pupils)
  7. 0.4 miles Wootey Infant School GU342JA (133 pupils)
  8. 0.4 miles Wootey Junior School GU342JA (177 pupils)
  9. 0.4 miles Three Counties Primary School GU342BT
  10. 0.5 miles Alton Convent School GU342NG (543 pupils)
  11. 0.6 miles Mayfield School GU342RN
  12. 0.8 miles Eggar's School GU344EQ
  13. 0.8 miles Eggar's School GU344EQ (790 pupils)
  14. 0.9 miles Whitedown School GU341LP
  15. 0.9 miles Treloar School GU344GL (89 pupils)
  16. 0.9 miles Eastbrook Education Trust GU342SL
  17. 1 mile The Butts Primary School GU341PW (234 pupils)
  18. 1 mile Andrews' Endowed Church of England Primary School GU344EL (202 pupils)
  19. 1 mile Treloar College GU344EN
  20. 1.2 mile Chawton Park Pupil Referral Unit GU341RQ
  21. 1.3 mile Lord Mayor Treloar Hospital School GU341RJ
  22. 1.8 mile Chawton Church of England Primary School GU341SG (140 pupils)
  23. 3.2 miles St Mary's Bentworth Church of England Primary School GU345RE (86 pupils)
  24. 3.4 miles Binsted Church of England Primary School GU344NX (85 pupils)

List of schools in Alton

Published date 4 November 2009
Inspection Number 342292

Unique reference number: 130691
Name of lead inspector: Alex Falconer HMI
Last day of inspection: 2 October 2009

Type of provider:

Sixth Form College


Old Odiham Road
Alton, Hampshire
GU34 2LX

Telephone number: 01420 592 200

Alton College

Inspection report

Information about the college

1. Alton College is a large sixth form college and is the only post-16 college in

rural east Hampshire. The nearest further education colleges are between 10
and 20 miles away in Guildford, Basingstoke and Farnborough. There is
considerable competition for post-16 places among the Hampshire colleges. The
college provides a subsidised bus service for students travelling to the college
across a largely rural setting.

2. Courses at all levels, both full- and part-time, are provided by the college in 11

of the 15 subject areas. The recruitment of full-time 16 to 18-year-old learners
has continued to grow over the past few years and is now above 2000. Over
85% of these students are on Level 3 courses such as GCE A, AS level and
Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) programmes. Student
numbers are highest in science and mathematics; arts, media and publishing;
languages, literature and culture and preparation for life and work. The college
works closely with Treloar College to provide education and training for around
30 students who have a range of severe disabilities. A further 800 adult
learners, mainly part-time on vocational courses, are recruited each year. The
college has a Train to Gain contract for about 500 learners in the local
community, including learners at army and RAF bases. In addition, some 170
pupils aged 14 to 16 from local schools attend the college on part-time
vocational courses.

3. There are no maintained secondary schools with sixth form provision within 20

miles of the college. In 2008, 75% of pupils in east Hampshire achieved at least
five A* to C grades at GCSE compared with 65% for England as a whole. In
November 2008 3.6% of the 16–18 population were recorded as not in
education, employment or training and Bordon and Whitehill wards are areas of
some deprivation. Around 3% of young people and 9% of the adult students
are from minority ethnic backgrounds, which is a higher proportion than in the
local population.

4. The college mission is to provide high-quality education and training in an

inclusive, supportive and challenging environment.

Type of provision Number of enrolled learners in


Provision for young learners:

14 to16
Further education (16 to18)
Foundation learning

173 part-time learners

1958 full-time learners

84 full-time learners

Provision for adult learners:

Further education (19+)

497 part-time learners
31 full-time equivalent learners

Employer provision:

Train to Gain

357 learners

Informal adult learning

529 learners

Summary report

Grades: 1 is outstanding; 2 is good; 3 is satisfactory; 4 is inadequate

Overall effectiveness of provision Grade 1

Capacity to improve Grade 1


Outcomes for learners 1
Quality of provision 1
Leadership and management 1

Equality and diversity


Subject areas Grade

Science and mathematics


Visual arts and media


Social sciences


Business, administration and law


Overall effectiveness

5. Alton College is outstanding. College managers and governors demonstrate

outstanding capacity to make improvements in outcomes for students and the
quality of provision. Students’ achievement of qualifications has improved and
in 2009 was excellent. It is clear that the students feel safe at the college and
make excellent progress. Many, including disabled students and those on
maintenance grants, successfully progress to undergraduate study. Students
also enjoy taking part in a wide range of cultural and sporting activities and
achieve considerable successes. The college successfully promotes equality and
diversity and has robust safeguarding procedures in place. Excellent progress
has been made in addressing the areas for improvement that were identifed at
the previous inspection. Teaching and learning are good overall, but a minority
of lessons do not always have sufficient challenge for all students. The
accommodation, learning and specialist resources and access to information
technology are outstanding. Students are very well supported and guided
through their studies. The views of students, parents and partner organisations
are effectively sought and acted upon. The college actively collaborates with a
wide range of partners to develop its provision and that of east Hampshire.
Leadership and management of the college are very strong and systems to
review and evaluate provision are well organised and effective. Development
plans are sensible and lead to improvements. The college represents
outstanding value for money.

Main findings

  • Students thoroughly enjoy their studies and achieve outstanding outcomes.
    Pass rates are consistently above national averages for both academic and
    vocational programmes. Disabled students from Treloar College achieve high
    standards and enjoy studying at the college.
  • Students’ attainments are above that predicted by their previous results and
    disabled students make very good progress.
  • The development of students’ economic and social well-being is outstanding
    and students also show success in a variety of sporting and cultural contexts. A
    high proportion of students go on from Alton College to university.
  • Teaching and learning are good. Most lessons were graded good, some
    outstanding and a small number satisfactory. Students develop confidence and
    very good subject knowledge during their studies.
  • However, a minority of lessons fail to challenge and fully develop the skills of all
    the students.
  • Teachers and students work very well together to develop and maintain
    individual learning plans. Students understand the importance of realistic
    targets and value their learning plans.
  • The advanced curriculum is very broad and offers a wide range of academic and
    vocational qualifications. The range of courses at intermediate and foundation
    level has increased since the last inspection.
  • The college collaborates with an extensive range of partners, which contributes
    to improving outcomes for the students and the local community.
  • Care, guidance and support for students are outstanding. Students settle into
    college very quickly and appreciate the exceptional support of their tutors.
    Additional learning support needs are quickly identified and the support
    provided is highly effective.
  • The college is outstandingly led and managed. Governors effectively review and
    monitor all aspects of the college performance.
  • The college places a strong emphasis on students’ health, safety and well-
    being. Students are clear about actions to take should they feel bullied or
    discriminated against. Vulnerable students are well protected.
  • The college promotes equality and diversity very well. The individual needs of
    students are well met. However, college managers recognise that there is
    inconsistency in the promotion of equality and diversity at curriculum level. The
    college listens carefully to students, parents and its partners. Opinions are
    actively sought and responded to promptly.
  • The college is meticulous in evaluating its strengths and weaknesses and
    identifying areas for improvement. The self-assessment report is accurate and
    review at curriculum level is very effective in bringing about improvements.

What does Alton College need to do to improve further?

  • To explore and develop approaches to teaching and learning that unlock
    students’ maximum potential and ensure that they are fully challenged.
  • To build on the college’s commitment to equality and inclusion by identifying
    innovative ways of promoting cultural diversity through the taught curriculum.

Summary of the views of users as confirmed by inspectors
What learners like:

  • the ease with which they are able to make the transition into college life, and
    the community ethos of the college
  • good physical access for disabled students
  • approachable teachers who provide detailed feedback on their work and
    progress, and the opportunity to review their progress through electronic
    individual learning plans (ILPs)
  • the importance the college places on gathering and acting on students’ views
  • the wide range of additional activities, both of general interest and specifically
    related to their courses
  • access through the college intranet to online learning resources and the
    information about health, welfare and finance
  • the very high quality accommodation and resources
  • the strong emphasis on and support for students applying to higher education.

What learners would like to see improved:

  • the punctuality of buses
  • prices in the college shop and refectory.

Main inspection report

Capacity to make and sustain improvement Grade 1

6. The college continues to make outstanding progress in improving outcomes for

students and in developing the quality of its provision. Students’ successes in
achieving qualifications have improved and are well above national averages.
Teaching and learning have improved. Support for students has continued to be
oustanding and recent changes have improved students’ ownership of their
targets and progress. Significant investment in resources has continued to
ensure that students have very high-quality accommodation. The college has
made very good progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified at
the previous inspection. Additional learning support is effectively evaluated and
pass rates on intermediate courses have improved. The college’s self-
assessment and quality assurance systems continue to bring about sharp
evaluation of the provision and well-constructed development plans.

Outcomes for learners Grade 1

7. Students thoroughly enjoy their studies at Alton College and achieve very high

outcomes. Success and retention rates at all levels are high and have improved
over three years. Pass rates for GCE A and AS programmes are well above sixth
form college averages. High-grade passes (A and B grades) were well above
national averages in 2009. Students’ outcomes for vocational programmes at
advanced and intermediate levels are also very good.

8. Progress of students on BTEC National courses is very good. Students on GCE A

and AS courses make progress in line with that predicted from their prior
attainment. Disabled students and those with maintenance grants make very
good progress and successfully go on to higher education and further study. In
addition, students from minority ethnic backgrounds achieved outstanding
outcomes in 2009. Pupils from local secondary schools following vocational or
extension studies also show high levels of achievement.

9. The development of students’ economic and social well-being is outstanding.

Over 80% of those taking GCE A level in 2009 progressed to higher education.
Progression to further study or employment is equally good on vocational
programmes and for those progressing within the college from foundation and
intermediate courses. Attendance is very high and has been 95% for the past
three years.

10. Students also succeed in a variety of cultural and sporting contexts. Notable

recent successes include a gold medal paralympian, a place on the England
under-19 cricket tour of South Africa and a range of highly successful musical
attainments. The students say they feel safe in the college and safe working
practices were observed during the inspection week. Through a good variety of
workshops and activities, the students are able to make informed choices about
adopting healthy lifestyles. In addition, students successfully make positive
contributions to the local community through fundraising for charities and other

The quality of provision Grade 1

11. Inspectors judge teaching and learning to be good. This judgement agrees with

the college’s view in their self-assessment report. Most lessons were graded as
good, some outstanding, and a small number satisfactory. College managers
have developed a cross-college learning model which is successfully being used
to raise standards.

12. Lesson planning is effective and teachers set clear objectives that are

successfully shared with students. In the best lessons, teachers and students
together reflect on objectives achieved. Most teachers motivate and engage
their students, and make appropriate demands according to ability. However, a
significant minority of lessons fail to challenge and develop the skills of the
more able students.

13. Standards of work are good overall and outstanding in some curriculum areas.

Practical and performance work in performing arts and in art and design lessons
are outstanding. Most students develop significantly increased levels of
confidence and enhanced subject knowledge during their studies. Levels of
enjoyment and engagement in classroom activities are high.

14. Teachers work particularly effectively with students to develop and maintain

individual learning plans. These provide students with clearly recorded,
meaningful targets which are updated regularly during individual tutorials.
Initial and diagnostic assessments provide a reliable basis on which the college
can provide specialist support for students who have specific learning
difficulties. Good levels of staffing enable students to receive prompt and well-
targeted support from specialist and other support personnel. Good links exist
between tutorial target setting and initial assessment outcomes.

15. Learning resources are good and specialist resources are widely available for

students who have physical and learning disabilities. Most teachers make good
use of information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance lessons.
Specialist practical equipment and resources are generally good. In some areas,
for instance media, photography, drama and dance, resources are outstanding.

16. The college has a well-developed and very well used virtual learning

environment (VLE). Teachers place a wide range of good quality materials on
the VLE, and students make good use of these.

17. The extent to which the provision meets the needs of students is outstanding.

The advanced curriculum is very broad with a wide choice of AS and A levels
and BTEC qualifications. The range of courses at intermediate and entry level
has increased since the last inspection and continues to develop in line with the
college’s strong strategic vision for local 14–19 developments. The college is
meeting the needs of employers in the local area well.

18. The college has an extensive range of partnerships with local schools, colleges

and businesses. The college plays a significant role in consortia and partnership
developments for education in east Hampshire. Partnerships are delivering clear
outcomes for students and the community, such as widening participation,
improving basic skills levels and broadening course choice. Disabled students
from Treloar College enjoy studying at the college and achieve well. Gifted and
talented students in schools are able to benefit from extension study. The
college’s students are very positive about transition to the college facilitated by
the close collaboration of college and partner school staff. There is extensive
provision for school pupils aged 14–16 who attend the college part-time.

19. The programme of additional activities to enhance students’ development and

progress is very broad and popular with students. Cross-college activities
include Russian language and salsa dancing. Extended project work is very
successful in preparing students for higher education. Course-specific activities,
such as jazz improvisation for students taking A-level music are popular and
some students have had unconditional offers from prestigious higher education

20. Care, guidance and support are outstanding. Students settle into the college

very quickly, and courses meet their expectations very well. Students
appreciate the exceptional support of their personal tutors. Students and tutors
manage electronic individual learning plans very well. Students place great
value on them and the regular opportunity to discuss their progress with their
tutors. Additional learning support needs are identified early and the support
provided is both timely and highly effective. Those students receiving support
achieve in line with their peers. The college now evaluates the effectiveness of
learning support well, which was an area for development identified at the last
inspection. Students highlight the value of online resources for health and
welfare support, the quality of related workshops, and the ease with which they
can make appointments online for face-to-face help with personal issues.

Leadership and management Grade 1

21. Alton College is very well led and managed. Senior managers and governors

continue to set a very clear strategic direction for the college. Management is
effectively delegated and middle managers are well supported by coaching,
mentoring and the college career development programme. Students’
achievements have remained outstanding and the curriculum has been
broadened to include more vocational opportunities. In addition, the college
now comprehensively monitors and evaluates additional learning suport, a
weakness identified in the previous inspection.

22. Governance is very strong. Governors monitor and review all aspects of the

college performance, are well informed and highly effective in supporting and
challenging the work of the principal and senior managers. Risk management is
good. Significant risks are accurately identified and very well managed.

23. The college has a clear strategy for safeguarding and places a strong emphasis

on students’ health, safety and well-being. Policies and procedures are clear,
well written and understood by staff. Staff training to identify the signs of abuse
is effective. Safe working practices are continually promoted and there is
excellent internet protection and security. Students are clear about actions to
take should they feel they are bullied or discriminated against. The college
carries out appropriate checks on staff through the Criminal Records Bureau
and holds a single record of the results and relevant training. Vulnerable
students are well protected.

24. The college arrangements for the promotion of equality and diversity are

outstanding. Policies and procedures are implemented effectively and staff
training is thorough. Managers carefully analyse performance data relating to
individual groups of students. Active measures are taken to address any
variation in attainment between groups of students. The individual needs of
students are well met. For example, disabled students from Treloar College are
well integrated and have access to a very good range of adaptive technologies
and individual support. As a result, these students achieve at least as well as
their peers. The promotion of equality and diversity throughout the curriculum
is good. College managers recognise there is inconsistency in the promotion
across subject areas and further development is needed. In some subjects,
equality and diversity only occur when syllabus topics require them. In other
subjects however, such as the social sciences, very good use is made of
naturally occurring situations to promote and understand diversity and
overcome discrimination.

25. The college continues to widen participation effectively, with a clearly identified

community strategy aimed at supporting disadvantaged groups and extending
the range of provision through partnership and collaboration. The college has
very good arrangements for listening and responding to both students and
parents. Managers actively seek feedback from staff, students, parents and
partners. Staff respond promptly to students’ concerns and students are highly
satisfied with the college’s response to their suggestions and comments.
Students are highly satisfied with the learning and support they receive and
they feel well represented in decision making.

26. The college’s quality assurance procedures are meticulous and very effective in

evaluating and improving provision. Curriculum team self-assessments and
students’ reviews are effectively informed by comprehensive data on all aspects
of performance. Quality procedures are clear and well understood by all staff.
The self- assessment report demonstrates a high level of accuracy and self-
assessment at team level is very effective in bringing about improvements.
There is a good focus on learning and an appropriate level of detail to support
judgements. Staff development is especially well organised and carefully linked
to college targets.

27. Financial management is strong and plans for expansion are realistic and

carefully planned. The college provides outstanding value for money. Significant
investment in resources has continued to ensure that students have high-
quality learning experiences. It is with regret that inspectors report the
abandonment of building on the new engineering block due to circumstances
beyond the control of the college. Resources to support learning are good
overall and outstanding in media and photography. The availability and high
specification of all information learning technology (ILT) facilities within the
college greatly supports the learning experience of all students. Recent middle
management training, sound financial planning, and rigorous controls and
mechanisms continue to ensure the financial stability and growth of the college.

Subject areas

Science and mathematics Grade 1


28. Currently there are 1696 enrolments in science and mathematics with the

majority on GCE AS and A level. There are 308 enrolments in biology, 230 in
chemistry and 192 in physics and electronics. There are 751 enrolments across
a wide range of mathematics options including 160 on GCSE mathematics. Most
are 16–18-year-old full-time students. However, 42 adult students also take
GCSE mathematics.

Key findings

  • Students’ achievements of qualifications are consistently high across all subjects
    and compare very well with national averages. High-grade pass rates for most
    courses are also above national averages. Most notably, A-level biology had
    72% high grades and AS further mathematics had 84% in 2009.
  • In GCSE mathematics, however, the A* to C pass rate has declined over the
    past three years and is now at the national average. The pass rate for A-level
    electronics has also declined.
  • Students work diligently and safely and make good progress. They make very
    good use of the college VLE to support their studies. Most students take part
    actively in class discussions and develop sound analytical and critical thinking
    skills together with appropriate use of technical language. Predicting and
    hypothesising are well developed in some lessons.
  • The college learning model provides a useful template for teachers to plan
    lessons to accommodate different learning styles. This has been effective in
    addressing dips in success rates in 2007/08 and has focused teachers’ attention
    on activities to engage students.
  • In most lessons teachers use an effective blend of activities and directed
    questions, together with discussions and skill checks to monitor and assess
    students’ knowledge and understanding.
  • However, in a few lessons teachers use a limited range of strategies to check
    learning and understanding. On some occasions the students were passive or
    did not have enough work to keep them occupied.
  • There is a comprehensive range of advanced subjects that provide students
    with access to an appropriate range of options to enable progression to higher
    education. Additionally, National Diploma and International Baccalaureate are
    also offered.
  • Curriculum enrichment is good and many students complete extended projects
    to improve their research skills. For example, a small group of physics students
    have excellent opportunities to work with a scientist in residence from the
    aeronautics industry and to be involved in real commercial research work.
  • Students benefit from a study environment that encourages learning and has
    high expectations of success. Staff are friendly, helpful and make themselves
    freely available in additional sessions.
  • Very effective use is made of one-to-one tutorials and the electronic ILPs.
    Tutors know their students well and work particularly effectively to encourage
    them to develop clear unambiguous targets and to take responsibility for their
    own learning.
  • There are high-quality resources and workspaces. Science laboratories are
    spacious, well-equipped and provide a professional working environment. Open
    access workspaces are conveniently situated near the laboratories and are well
    resourced with sufficient desk space and computer access.
  • Teachers use information and data well to monitor performance of courses and
    effectively evaluate the impact of changes made to course structure and to
    teaching methods.
  • Communications within subject teams are good and staff, including new
    teachers, support each other well. However, information sharing between
    subject areas is less well developed and good practices, particularly in teaching
    and learning strategies, are less well shared.
  • Leadership and management in science and mathematics are very good.
    Professional development is good and clearly focuses on providing staff with
    relevant support and training. Self-assessment and quality assurance are strong
    and evaluative.

What does the college need to do to improve further?

  • Understand and improve the declining A* to C pass rates in GCSE
    mathematics and A-level electronics.
  • Ensure that lessons have sufficient content, pace and challenge and that
    teachers use an appropriate range of strategies to check knowledge and
  • Further develop and extend the sharing of good teaching and learning
    practices across the range of subjects to ensure students have a consistency
    of experience and expectations.

Visual arts and media Grade 1


29. Currently there are 960 enrolments on visual arts and media courses. There is a

wide range of advanced vocational and academic courses including art and
design, media, photography, textiles, film studies and access to higher
education. Curently media has 185 students, photography 263, film 54 and
there are over 700 students on visual arts programmes.

Key findings

  • Retention and pass rates are outstanding. In 2009, for example, A-level art
    textiles, media studies, BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies and BTEC ND art
    and design all had very high pass rates. Most specialisms have a good
    percentage of high grades. In 2009 70% of A-level art and design candidates
    gained A or B grades.
  • The standard of students’ work is very high. They produce creative and
    experimental work in sketchbooks and finished pieces. Initial research is
    detailed and presented well, and final outcomes are displayed professionally to
    inspire students and raise ambitions about their work. Information technology is
    used well to enhance learning, such as in presentations.
  • Students are confident and articulate. They are highly motivated and contribute
    well to class discussions. They have good levels of reflective and analytical
    vocabulary and use technical language and specialist terms effectively.
    Progression to higher education is good and some students go on to prestigious
    universities. Students feel safe while studying and comment on the atmosphere
    of mutual respect in the college.
  • Students communicate very well with their teachers and can submit work via
    email. The VLE also has helpful study guides and resources.
  • Teaching and learning are outstanding. Teachers are enthusiastic and
    passionate about their subjects and share this passion with students. Teachers
    have good relationships with their students and are sensitive to their needs.
    Well organised schemes of work sequentially build on skills and there is detailed
    tracking of students’ progress. However, in a few classes, some activities are
    not sufficiently challenging to stretch the more able students. Extension
    activities are not always included in course planning.
  • Assessment practices are well organised. Verbal feedback is good, with detailed
    and constructive comments about how to improve. Written feedback is
    extensive and provides valuable advice. In a few cases, feedback to students is
    too general and does not specify a range of actions to improve work.
  • Courses offered are mostly at advanced level and include vocational
    programmes as well as GCE A levels. Local school pupils can access well-
    organised part-time vocational programmes. There is a wide range of
    enrichment activities for full-time students.
  • Care, guidance and support for students are very good. Tutors offer highly
    effective personal support, both pastoral and academic.
  • Leadership and management are very good. Managers are responsive and
    supportive. Staff feel valued and informed. Lines of communication are clear
    and there is good team working. There is a strong ethos for constant
    improvement and a clear strategic vision. Self-assessment and review are
    accurate and evaluative.
  • Specialist accommodation and resources are excellent. Good technical support is
    available. IT resources are very good with easy access to computers and colour
    printing. Photography has extensive facilities with three studios. New media
    production facilities include a television studio and editing facilities.

What does the college need to do to improve further?

  • Ensure all learning activities in lessons fully engage the students and provide
    sufficient challenge.

Social sciences Grade 2


30. Social sciences currently have 723 enrolments, all on advanced courses. GCE AS

and A-level psychology have 385 enrolments. In addition 153 students are
studying geography, 116 sociology and 58 government and politics. Over a
dozen adults are enrolled on an access to higher education programme for
social sciences.

Key findings

  • Achievements are good for 16 to18-year-old students and for adults on access
    to higher education courses. Achievement rates for qualifications have been at
    or above the national average in most courses for the past three years. High-
    grade achievement has been particularly good in GCE AS and A-level geography
    and psychology.
  • Students’ progress and achievement are at or above that predicted from their
    GCSE results. Progress is particularly good in AS psychology and improving in
    sociology and government and politics. Progression rates from AS to A level are
    good across the subjects inspected.
  • The quality of teaching and learning is good. Teachers use a good variety of
    strategies to engage and inspire students and lessons are carefully designed to
    extend students’ knowledge and understanding. However, in a minority of
    lessons, too little attention is paid to the individual needs of students, with, for
    example, insufficient challenge for the more able students.
  • Teachers make good use of technology in classes, especially electronic
    whiteboards and the internet. Students successfully use electronic media
    outside lessons, helped by dedicated IT provision in well-equipped subject-
    specific work areas close to classrooms.
  • Although theory teaching is very good there is insufficient emphasis given to the
    acquisition of course-specific study skills. For example, the different essay
    requirements for some subjects confuse some students.
  • The college learning model is used well in lesson planning, ensuring a good
    range of appropriate activities. However, most plans prioritise the needs of the
    curriculum over the needs of the individual. Activities are designed to be carried
    out by all students in the same way at the same time and the full range of
    learning needs are not always met.
  • Marking and assessment are good. Work is marked accurately and promptly
    across the subject area and helps students improve. However, there are
    variations in the effectiveness of feedback given by different teachers.
  • There is a good variety of qualifications at Level 3. Provision is further
    augmented by a wide variety of enrichment programmes, both in the subject
    area and across the college.
  • Students are well supported in class and there is good access to college-wide
    learning support. Students are effusive in their appreciation of the extra help
    and support given by teachers outside teaching hours.
  • The subject area is managed very well at all levels. Demanding expectations
    and targets are clear and realistic and monitoring is continuous and consistent.
    These have resulted in high levels of accountability and accurate self-evaluation
    by all staff and have continued to improve standards across the area.
  • Equality and diversity are well managed and promoted. In an access to higher
    education sociology lesson, students from a variety of backgrounds were able to
    express their own cultural attitudes to deepen the understanding of other group
    members. Curriculum managers recognise that there is still work to be done to
    close the gap in achievement between male students and that of females.
    Disabled students are well supported and fully integrated into classes.

What does the college need to do to improve further?

  • Identify more precisely students’ individual strengths and weaknesses relative to
    the skills’ demands of specific courses.
  • Ensure all lesson and course planning includes relevant differentiated activities
    tailored to the needs of individual students.
  • Develop greater consistency and clarity in written feedback in order to help
    students improve the quality of their work.

Business, administration and law Grade 2


31. The subject area has 792 students’ aged 16 to 18 enrolled on full-time

programmes. These include First and National Diplomas in business, GCE AS
and A-level in accounting, business studies, economics and law, as well as
economics on the International Baccalaureate. In addition, there are 66 adult
students on part-time courses in accounting and bookkeeping and 11 students
following national vocational qualifications (NVQs) as part of Train to Gain.

Key findings

  • Students’ attainments are high. They are consistently outstanding on GCE A
    level and are good on BTEC First and National Diplomas. Retention is good.
    However, pass rates have declined on GCE AS business studies to below the
    national average.
  • Students’ progress and achievements are at or above the levels predicted from
    their GCSE results. Progress is very good on First Diploma and law courses, but
    has been weak on GCE A-level economics.
  • Standards of students’ work are good and progression to higher education is
    strong. Students show good recall of content previously covered and work
    collaboratively in groups. They enjoy their studies. Attendance is very good.
  • Teaching and learning are good. Teachers have good subject knowledge and
    use current examples well in lessons. They explain concepts clearly and use a
    good mix of individual and group activities which are productive. Most lessons
    have clear challenge and high expectations of students, often stimulating
    students into identifying issues and deriving principles. Teachers use ILT well to
    present information and build up explanations.
  • In a few lessons teachers do not sufficiently challenge students. Direct
    questions are not used sufficiently to involve all students and to check their
    learning. Teachers sometimes accept weak answers from students without
    further discussion and follow-up.
  • Curriculum enrichment is satisfactory. It is very strong in law where links with,
    for example, the magistracy, the Crown Court, the Probation Service and
    Guildford College of Law are used very productively. On BTEC courses, work
    experience is used well to link with assignments. However, in other subjects
    there are few trips, visiting speakers or links with local businesses to enrich the
  • Support for individual students is highly effective. Students and tutors use
    electronic individual learning plans very productively to set realistic targets and
    action plans. Students are taking increasing responsibility for identifying actions
    that will help them improve.
  • Leadership and management are good. The law department is very well led,
    with good external links enriching the curriculum and regular team meetings to
    share practice. In 2008/9 there was improvement in performance across the
    whole subject area. In particular, significant improvements were made in pass
    rates and value-added on GCE AS law and economics. Teamwork is strong, with
    productive sharing of learning resources among staff.
  • Managers acted decisively to bring about improvement in economics. Improved
    performance is apparent with the new staff team.
  • The self-assessment report is broadly accurate, but did not identify all key areas
    for improvement.

What does the college need to do to improve further?

  • Continue to inject more challenge into teaching by developing teachers’ capacity
    to monitor and assess students’ knowledge and skills in lessons.
  • Plan more varied activities to better meet the needs of students of differing
  • Develop more links with local businesses to enrich the curriculum.

Information about the inspection

32. Three of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) and five additional inspectors, assisted

by the college’s vice principal, as nominee, carried out the inspection.
Inspectors also took account of the college’s most recent self-assessment report
and development plans, comments from the local Learning and Skills Council
(LSC) or other funding bodies, the previous inspection report, reports from the
inspectorate’s quality monitoring inspection, and data on students and their
achievement over the period since the previous inspection.

33. Inspectors used group and individual interviews, telephone calls and emails.

They looked at questionnaires that learners and employers had recently
completed on behalf of the college. They also observed learning sessions,
assessments and progress reviews. Inspectors collected evidence from
programmes in each of the subject areas the college offers.

Record of Main Findings (RMF)

Alton College

Learning types: 14–16: part-time vocational courses; 16–18 Learner responsive: FE full- and part-time courses; 19+
responsive: FE full- and part-time courses;

Outcomes for learners

1 1 1

How well do learners achieve and enjoy their learning?


How well do learners attain their learning goals?
How well do learners progress?


How well do learners improve their economic and social well-being through
learning and development?


How safe do learners feel?


Are learners able to make informed choices about their own health and well


How well do learners make a positive contribution to the community?*


Quality of provision

1 1 1

How effectively do teaching, training and assessment support learning and


How effectively does the provision meet the needs and interests of users?


How well partnerships with schools, employers, community groups and
others lead to benefits for learners?


How effective are the care, guidance and support learners receive in helping

them to achieve?


Leadership and management

1 1 1

How effectively do leaders and managers raise expectations and promote
ambition throughout the organisation?


How effectively do governors and supervisory bodies provide leadership,
direction and challenge?*


How effectively does the provider promote the safeguarding of learners?


How effectively does the provider actively promote equality and diversity,
tackle discrimination and narrow the achievement gap?


How effectively does the provider engage with users to support and
promote improvement?


How effectively does self-assessment improve the quality of the provision
and outcomes for learners?


How efficiently and effectively does the provider use its available resources
to secure value for money?


*where applicable to the type of provision

Grades using the 4 point scale
1: Outstanding; 2: Good;
3: Satisfactory; 4: Inadequate











Approximate number of enrolled learners

Full-time learners
Part-time learners


1556 173


1026 357

Overall effectiveness

1 1 1

Capacity to improve


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