Dudley College celebrates outstanding Ofsted grade

A Black Country college has received its first 'outstanding' rating from Ofsted.

The results of the latest inspection put Dudley College of Technology among the best in the country. But a decade ago, the college's future looked bleak as it was rated 'inadequate' due to financial woes, falling student numbers and poor facilities.

It has been a "long and difficult" road to success, according to principal Lowell Williams, who joined the college in 2008. He said:

"When I joined the college, I quickly became aware of its illustrious history, dating back to 1862, and also the proud traditions of the Black Country. But there was a frustrating sense that Dudley’s best days were gone, that nothing new and aspirational could ever be achieved.

"At the time the college’s aspirational plans were treated with a good degree of scepticism and I had many dark nights myself wondering if we really could realise our ambitions.

"The real key to our success has been our passionate and highly motivated staff who have genuinely learnt how to pull together as a team and we have relentlessly focused on outstanding teaching and learning and the progress and progression of our learners.

"We have also enjoyed superb support from the college’s governing body who haven’t been afraid to take some risks, such as borrowing to invest in the Dudley Learning Quarter."

The hard work has paid off as the college is now the largest provider of apprenticeships in the West Midlands and inspectors, who visited the college on January 25-26 and May 17-19, commended the “outstanding teaching” and curriculum that “anticipates regional and national need, leading to highly appropriate training pathways for learners and apprentices”.

The report also acknowledged that the college had successfully developed “a culture of high expectations” for all of its learners and consequently “learners have excellent attitudes, take pride in their work and achieve consistently well”.

Despite the turnaround, Mr Williams said "there’s so much more to be done", adding: "Numbers in Dudley Sixth continue to grow with more learners each year achieving the highest academic grades, many of whom may never have believed it possible.

"We recently opened Dudley Advance 1, our advanced manufacturing and engineering centre, which with the help of local employers is refocusing the skills of local young people and driving productivity.

"Dudley Advance II opens for business this September offered a cutting edge curriculum in digital applications for the construction industry and we are confident it will quickly become a centre of national importance.

"Our exciting plans for University Centre Dudley are also developing at pace and the newly formed Dudley Academies Trust starts work in earnest this September."

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