Curriculum at heart of report

CONGRATULATIONS to all at Sussex Coast College for obtaining a Grade 2 in its recent inspection.

There have always been problems with curriculum relevance and students placed on unsuitable courses.

The college article seems to refer to teachers when it mentions that ‘members of staff who were unable to meet students’ needs have now left the organisation’. However, from the content of the Ofsted report from 2011 and from what Mr Cooke is quoted as saying it seems that the problem was more a case of ‘the curriculum that teachers were directed to deliver failed to meet the needs of the learners’, on two counts, content and academic level.

Poor teachers need weeding out but I don’t think the teachers were directly responsible for setting the curriculum or recruiting and placing students on particular courses regardless of ability, so let’s hope that those who were directly responsible for these things prior to November 2011 have also ‘left’ the organisation.

I would imagine that it must be an absolute nightmare for teachers across further education who are directed to deliver intermediate and advanced level courses to entry level students struggling to read, write and carry out the most basic of calculations. Presumably, the teachers just have to ‘get ‘em through’ or else!

Colleges should design a curriculum which serves the needs of their local area and offer courses at an appropriate level which will enable local students to fully engage on them. It’s no secret that a large proportion of 16-18 year olds signing up for vocational courses locally have very poor levels of basic skills.

If there are too few or no candidates who possess the skills and pre-requisites for intermediate and advanced courses then a college shouldn’t be filling up these courses with whoever comes along. After all, this new college was launched on maxims such as ‘regeneration through education’ so its curriculum should be synchronised with local needs and levels of basic skills.

So at this point in time it’s a thumbs up to Mr Cooke and his team who seem to have put the school’s hat on straight and following the 2011 Ofsted report appear to be making a dent in that bad old culture in further education whereby students, regardless of ability, were signed onto courses simply to keep the bus rolling and the house full.

PETER BENSON

Quarry Hill

St Leonards