This is an exceptional and rare achievement by any school or college, but what makes this outcome even more remarkable is that Callywith has been in existence for just two and a half years. In that time, sponsored by Truro and Penwith College, and with levels of learner demand and growth unprecedented anywhere nationally, it has already become the choice of 1,100 post-16 students from north and east Cornwall.
The recurring Ofsted theme throughout the report is about a College which, in Inspectors’ words, “raises the aspirations and achievements and improves the life chances of young people living in one of the poorest regions in the UK”.
Seven Inspectors spent three days in January scrutinising every aspect of the College’s work, analysing data, interviewing hundreds of stakeholders, not just students, staff and Trustees, but employers, parents and others from across the wide community which now uses and benefits from Callywith.
“Since the opening of Callywith College in September 2017”, the reports says, “leaders, managers and staff have worked tirelessly to create a culture of high expectations for all.” Describing the learner experience, inspectors said: “Students are overwhelmingly positive about all aspects of college life. They feel privileged to be a student there and take an immense pride in being part of the Callywith College community. Many students travel a considerable distance to attend. They thrive under the exceptionally supportive and caring environment”.
The new inspection framework foregrounds the content and relevance of the curriculum as well as the quality of provision. Ofsted found a curriculum which is, “highly effective in enabling students to reach their long-term aspirations.” The report concluded that Callywith provides, “a wide range of carefully designed academic and vocational learning programmes and high-quality teaching, assessment and support.” Inspectors noted that, “teachers have a passion for the subjects they teach, have excellent subject knowledge and vocational experience.”
Recognising the highly inclusive nature of the College, inspectors also praised the, “highly-effective additional support from staff and a range of external agencies,” which helps students with SEND and high needs and from disadvantaged backgrounds to, “continue with their studies, become more independent and make progress in line with their peers.”
Commenting on the Outstanding Ofsted grades, Principal Jon Grey said: “Since opening Callywith College we have been privileged to work with so many truly inspirational young people. This fantastic report follows on the heels of their achievements and the College’s exceptional performance in our first ever showing in the Department for Education attainment tables. I am delighted for all my colleagues that their collective brilliance and dedicated hard work has been recognised so clearly in this report. It seems no time at all since we were interviewing our first applicants in a temporary hut at the edge of a building site and assuring them that not only would the College be ready for opening day but would be somewhere that they would thrive, receive the very best teaching and support, and leave us, as Ofsted have just confirmed, “very well prepared for their futures.”
Assistant Principal Lucy Maggs said: “What emerges so strongly from this report is that, as well as recognising Callywith’s outstanding teaching, inspectors discovered and praised a thriving supportive community and inclusive culture where, as they put it, ‘students are constantly reminded of their ability and worth by staff’ and, ‘students are inspired to do well because staff treat them with great respect’. I’m not sure we could have chosen better accolades ourselves to reflect the shared vision, mission and ethos of Callywith College and I am so proud of every member of staff and every student who have all worked together to create a very special place in which to work and study.”
David Walrond, Callywith’s Chair of Trustees and Principal at Truro and Penwith College, said: “There was huge belief and determination among colleagues from the start of the Callywith project that something special really could be delivered and was needed. I am delighted that inspectors praised the ‘clear and ambitious vision for the college’. The Department for Education backed the vision and ambition based on our track record. Truro and Penwith College provided co-investment, excellent foundations, and a blueprint, but a college is not a blueprint. It is the hard work and shared purpose of Callywith’s exceptional staff, students and trustees which created a college whose work Ofsted found transformative.”
In terms of next steps for the Grade 1 College, its Chair added: “Trustees are determined not to stop here. Callywith needs to grow to meet the volume of post-16 applications and to extend the range of its work in response to local demand for technical further education, including more work-based learning and the prospect of higher levels of study. These are also the national priorities for post-16 education and skills and so we can make a compelling case.”