Ofsted has reported that students living in halls of residence at Sparsholt Campus enjoy an Outstanding residential experience. The three-day inspection, carried out in May 2022, found the College’s provision to be outstanding in all areas with ‘Overall experiences and progress of young people’, ‘How well young people are helped and protected’ as well as ‘The effectiveness of leaders and managers’ all receiving the highest possible grade across the board from the inspectors. In the year 2021/22 there were 372 students living on campus, 199 of whom were under 18 at the time of the inspection.

Ofsted reported on the excellent relationships between residential learners and residential staff. The report said “Wardens know each student well and there are healthy and respectful relationships between students and staff. The residential areas have a convivial feel, with students joining in each other’s games or socialising with their friends.”

Planned moves from schools to residential accommodation are bespoke to each student’s needs, Ofsted noted that “Staff identify students’ additional support needs…through pre-placement information and applications. The college closely liaises with the young person, their parents or carers.”

The report highlighted “Students share their views and ideas in a variety of ways, such as in student surveys and by student representation at governors’ meetings. Their views have resulted in changes such as later curfews, LGBTQ+ corner, neurodiverse club and craft club. This has provided safe spaces for students to relax and engage with peers.” Even the staff at the Campus eateries contribute to the great experience of living on Sparsholt’s countryside campus: “The catering staff know the students well and contribute to the students’ wellbeing through the positive relationships that they have with them.”

“Tutors work closely with care staff and support students with their studies in the evening. Joined-up working between the well-being team, wardens and progress coaches means residential students are seamlessly supported in their natural progression to employment and adulthood.“ Moreover: “Students say being on campus is enjoyable and keeps them focused on achieving their career goals.”

‘How well young people are helped and protected’ is described as Outstanding with praise for the Wellbeing team and their support being described as “exemplary” The report said: “Residential students say they feel safe on the campus. Students say they can approach wardens with any worries, and they have a variety of staff they can spend individual time with. Staff are attentive to students’ needs and are aware of who has additional support needs.” which, along with the move of the Support Hub to a more central location by the halls, the inspectors noted “has increased the number of students reached and those self-referring. Drop-in sessions at the well-being centre cater for all and meet the varying needs and identities of the students. Students value the well-being centre as a safe space to seek advice and guidance or to relax”.

Liz Wilson, Assistant Principal, Student Experience said: “It is wonderful that Ofsted have recognised the hard work of the teams supporting our residential students. At Sparsholt College Group we strive to ensure that the transition from school to college is planned and supported and that students have input from our expert teams to help them be happy and successful whilst living at college.”

The report said ‘The effectiveness of leaders and managers’ at Sparsholt was Outstanding with the leadership team at Sparsholt College Group described as: “highly aspirational and ambitious for students’ progress and outcomes. Leaders have also made improvements to the quality of the accommodation and the range of extra-curricular activities.”

“Residential wardens are supported effectively by an experienced management team who strive for the highest quality experiences for students.”

Principal Julie Milburn said: “This is an excellent report from Ofsted which is testament to the outstanding work delivered by our residential team of wardens, student support and wellbeing teams, and academic staff, it really is a team effort.   Residential learners enjoy and thrive here and increase their knowledge, confidence and independence thanks to our commitment to supporting each learner throughout their unique journey with us.”

Sparsholt Campus is now gearing up to receive its next intake of residential students whose futures really couldn’t be in better hands knowing that Ofsted has recorded that: “There is an emphasis on ensuring that students are industry-ready when they leave college. This means that students are successful in obtaining and sustaining employment when they leave the college.”