East Kent College rated ‘good’ in remarkable turnaround for Dover and Folkestone sites since South Kent College crisis days
PUBLISHED: 10:18 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 27 February 2017
Incredible transformation over recent years is highly praised by MPs and council chiefs
A quite remarkable turn around in the fortunes of the further education sites in Folkestone and Dover have seen government inspectors Ofsted hand out five ‘outstanding’ grades to East Kent College.
In the other four categories, it received a ‘good’ rating, making it one of the country’s stand-out performing further education sites.
Initially South Kent College, the college buckled in the mid 2000s, eventually receiving an inadequate rating in 2009 which prompted the college to enter a merger, in 2010, with West Kent College to become K College.
But that too imploded due to running up debts of millions of pounds.
It was only after a major campaign to save the south coast sites was launched that East Kent College, previously known as Thanet College and headquartered in Broadstairs, took over.
Now it’s remarkable turn around appears complete after the results of an inspection in January were published.
The inspection, which covered all the colleges campuses, took place between January 24 and 27 January and saw 10 inspectors investigating areas of the college which included its 16-19 provision, apprenticeships and the technical school.
It makes East Kent College one of the highest rated further education colleges in the country, and is the best inspection grading for a further education college so far this year.
Key findings included positive responses for progress of apprentices, work experience and good levels of progression and exceptionally effective and productive community engagement and partnership working.
East Kent College’s principal, Graham Razey, said: “This inspection has highlighted just how far the college has come since 2013. Our Dover and Folkestone campuses had previously been neglected as part of K College, and were considered inadequate. The fact they’re now thought of as ‘outstanding’ for five of the nine areas inspected by Ofsted, and good for the other four, is testament to just how hard all of our staff have worked and I’m really proud of the grading which reflects that.”
South Thanet’s Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay said: “This is fantastic news, not just for the college, but for our community. I know all the team at the college have been working immensely hard over the last few years to achieve these ratings, and they should be tremendously proud of what they have accomplished in such a short space of time.”
Paul Watkins, leader of Dover District Council, added: “We’re delighted to see the investment in their Dover campus and at Discovery Park in Sandwich, and have been impressed with the commitment we’ve seen from the management, staff and students.”
David Monk, leader of Shepway Distric Council added: “A few years ago we helped avert the threat of closure of Folkestone’s further education campus for our local students, so I am obviously delighted that Ofsted recognises the great improvement in standards achieved by East Kent College.
“I have great faith in the management of Graham Razey and his staff team whose achievements are recognised by the Ofsted report and The Radnor Park Tea Room stands as a testament to what their students can achieve in partnership with us.”
East Kent College also recently took over the day-to-day running of cash-strapped Canterbury College. Plans to formally merge the two are now being progressed. Canterbury College was not included as part of the Ofsted report.