Macclesfield College has proved the value of effective leadership and an employer-led approach to further and higher education after lifting provision from Ofsted’s ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ in just 18 months.

The achievement has been heralded by the newly-published Ofsted report following an inspection late last year to check on progress with implementation of the leadership team’s vision for ‘Empowerment through Learning.’

Stating that “College leaders have fostered a culture of high expectation in the college …addressing most of the areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection”, Ofsted inspectors found that Principal and Chief Executive, Rachel Kay, has inspired, motivated and galvanised the whole college team. Consequently, improvements have been made across all areas of college management, course design and frontline provision, placing a high emphasis on employer engagement and employability.

Explains Rachel: “As a senior education management professional with a specialism in work-based learning, I knew when I was appointed as Principal and Chief Executive that wide-ranging improvements needed to be made to the college to improve outcomes for our students and ensure that we provide excellent standards of learning that will be relevant to a wide range of local and national employers.

“My goal has been to take those aims a step further and actively engage employers in course design and development so that our courses are closely aligned to workplace requirements – whether traditional, technical or vocational – and genuinely prepare our students for successful and rewarding careers.”

The College’s approach has paid off, with 93 per cent of students securing full-time employment opportunities or engaging in further studies. The Ofsted report outlined compelling achievements in the college’s approach and commitment to transformational change, articulating the opportunities and support available to students. The report highlighted that “Close working relationships with employers and stakeholders ensure that apprenticeships are implemented skilfully, valued by employers and meet local, regional and national skills needs,” that “Learners benefit from high-quality external work experience that successfully supports them in making decisions about their future work and career aspirations,” that “Leaders and managers have forged extensive links with local and national employers, developing the curriculum to meet community, local and national skills,” and that “Learners benefit from very good impartial careers guidance.”

Rachel adds: “Our vision for the college is to create an aspirational environment where staff and students strive to be the best they can be and all students take full advantage of their right and responsibility to learn.

“I would like to congratulate the whole team here at Macclesfield College on the huge jump in attainment that has been achieved and also thank our employer partners for helping us develop and deliver courses that will prepare students for such an exciting array of careers in industries as diverse as motor manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and media.

“Transformational change is a continuous process and we look forward to building on these achievements and helping all our students learn without boundaries.”

The full Ofsted Report for Macclesfield College can be read here