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Sparsholt College was given a huge endorsement by Ofsted in 2014, which commended its high standards and overall effectiveness as ‘good’ with all areas inspected given a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating and governance being acknowledged as ‘Outstanding’.

The inspection report, which was published following a no notice inspection in February, found the College has very high standards in all aspects of its operations and in particular provides “Good and Outstanding” teaching and learning in all curriculum areas inspected which included Agriculture and Environmental Conservation, Horticulture and Forestry, Animal Management, Veterinary Science and Equine Studies.

The Animal Management team, including Veterinary Science and Equine Studies, celebrated their ‘Outstanding’ grading as a glowing endorsement of their work which already has an enviable local, regional and national reputation. Inspectors were extremely impressed by the professionalism of staff, the exceptional facilities and strong industry links stating: “Teachers are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and use their vocational expertise to impart knowledge and skills effectively”. They commended the team’s structuring of lessons, which allows students to develop “excellent practical animal handling skills.” The report featured the fact that students “benefit from high-quality work placements in organisations such as zoos, airport reception centres and wildlife trusts” and have access to “extensive enrichment opportunities including international study tours.”

Inspectors also commented on how the College supports students by focusing on their general happiness and well-being saying: “Students enjoy their time in college and standards of behaviour are very high.” This also further validates the College’s previous rating of “Outstanding” from Ofsted for its residential provision which was inspected in June 2013.

College Principal Tim Jackson felt the report was a resounding endorsement of the College’s commitment to excellence and said: “Inspectors saw the College operating in a normal way and validates our everyday commitment to exceptionally high standards and support for students. I am so pleased the skills, knowledge and expertise of our teachers, many of whom have national reputations in their specialist fields, was so clearly acknowledged in the report.”

Tim who is also the Chair of Landex*, went on to highlight the College’s important links with industry and said: “We already train the experts of the future and have a well-established regional, national and international reputation in many areas, including Game and Wildlife where former students have gone on to gamekeeper roles at the Royal and many other major estates and in Zoo Management where we have developed international programmes and study tours.”

Vice Principal, Martin Simmons who worked directly with inspectors during the inspection said: “I am proud that the very high standards we strive to achieve were recognised in this report, particularly in Animal Management, Veterinary Science and Equine. We set the bar very high at Sparsholt and work on balancing all of the elements that lead to good teaching and learning. Support for students, individualised learning plans, talented teachers who are creative and resourceful, and industry relevant practice, all lead to students who are ready for university or roles in industry.”

Martin reflected on the areas for development also included in the report and said: “We’re clearly marching towards being acknowledged as an outstanding college and our focus as always needs to remain on sharing the best practice evidenced in the majority of our curriculum areas across the board so the high standards we expect are embedded across all areas and at all levels.”

The report also rated the governance of the college as ‘Outstanding’ with governors providing appropriate support and challenge to the college’s Senior Leadership Team in order to facilitate meeting its “ambitious and challenging three-year strategic and operational plan.”

The full report can be downloaded HERE.

*Landex – ‘Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence’ is a subscriber organisation with 36 member Colleges and Universities in England and 6 Members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.