Havant College principal criticises Ofsted over grade award

UPSET Havant College principal John McDougall is unhappy with the Ofsted rating.     Picture: Paul Jacobs (112227-5)
UPSET Havant College principal John McDougall is unhappy with the Ofsted rating. Picture: Paul Jacobs (112227-5)

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THE principal of a sixth form college that boasts the best A-level pass rates in the area has criticised Ofsted inspections after receiving a ‘satisfactory’ rating.

Havant College is the leading local state school and college for its A* to C pass rates, and the number of students who go on to university.

But Ofsted inspectors gave it the second lowest grade because its ‘success rate’ – which combines pass rates with student drop-out numbers – falls below the national average.

Principal John McDougall said: ‘Ofsted has a certain set of data which defines its outcomes, which I don’t necessarily agree with.

‘Our college is absolutely not just satisfactory in terms of what students get out of it.

‘Here, 82 per cent of students go on to university – most of them to the top 20 universities, with about 10 a year winning places at Oxbridge.

‘We have 74 per cent of students achieving A* to C grades at A-level, which exceeds the national sixth form college benchmark by five per cent, and 47 per cent of our students are achieving even tougher A* to B grades.

‘Our average points score last year placed us at the top of the state league tables for all schools and colleges in Havant and Waterlooville, east Hampshire, Chichester and Portsmouth.

‘I don’t consider that to be a “satisfactory” achievement.

‘We are performing outstandingly in terms of student outcomes in their second year and Ofsted is not giving us credit for that.’

Inspectors acknowledged ‘good’ teaching and learning, ‘high’ A-level pass rates and ‘outstanding’ success in A-level maths, further maths and AS further maths.

But they gave the sciences a damning ‘unsatisfactory’ grade.

Mr McDougall admitted poor biology grades and resources were the problem, and is recruiting for a head of department.

He said: ‘For me, teaching and learning is the most important thing, and inspectors agree we had 25 per cent outstanding teaching and 75 per cent good teaching.

‘I want to reverse that statistic.

‘I am confident we are on our way to beating the success rate benchmark this year, and being well clear of it next year.

‘If Ofsted had visited us this autumn, we would not have been rated satisfactory.’

Havant College was hit with a £250,000 budget reduction this year but Mr McDougall says this has not affected teaching staff and ‘students have not felt the difference’.