Newly-formed College Group achieves highest possible grade of ‘significant progress’ after Ofsted monitoring visit

Accrington and Rossendale College has made ‘significant progress’ in raising the standards of learners’ and Apprentices’ education under the new Nelson and Colne College Group, according to Ofsted.

After a monitoring visit in October, Ofsted inspectors graded three key areas of provision as having made ‘significant progress’ – the highest achievable grade – within a year of the Colleges becoming a merged institution. Ofsted praised the Colleges’ commitment to improving standards in the provision areas of Apprenticeships and GCSE English and Mathematics.

Nelson and Colne College has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted since 2005, and the monitoring visit was a requirement post-merger. The themes of the monitoring visit were selected from the areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection of Accrington and Rossendale College in 2018, prior to the merger, when the institution was rated as ‘good’.

In the view of the lead inspector, significant progress has been made in improving the quality of education that Apprentices receive on their training programmes, on improving learners’ and Apprentices’ knowledge in English and Mathematics, and the effectiveness of teachers and assessors in using learning assessments so that all learners and Apprentices can achieve their potential. Reasonable progress has been made in making sure that Apprentices have an appropriate understanding of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism.

The Colleges are among the first in the country to be inspected under Ofsted’s new stringent and rigorous Education Inspection Framework. A full inspection will take place in due course.

Principal Amanda Melton said: “I’m utterly delighted that we have managed to achieve significant progress in the three of four key areas of inspection. This is a remarkable achievement in the short space of time since the merger.

“As a combined institution, we are a Maths and English College, as these are the two qualifications students require to progress and improve life chances. To have our curriculum acknowledged and endorsed in this way is extremely satisfying.

“Equally, Apprenticeships are an incredibly important aspect of the College offer, providing a pipeline of young skilled talent for employers and the economy locally, regionally and beyond. Again, to have our provision positively recognised by Ofsted is very encouraging.

“We still have work to go, and I am confident that we will continue to progress over the months ahead. I would like to take this opportunity to thank colleagues from across the College Group for their tireless work that went into this, in particular to the English and Maths teams, and the Apprenticeship Team who were under the microscope during inspection, and other teams who supported this significant achievement.”

On the question of Apprenticeship provision, the inspector stated: “Leaders and managers have worked hard since the merger of the two colleges to improve the standard of training that Apprentices receive. They have nurtured very effective links with industry specialists. Managers and staff use their local intelligence about the health sector to develop and put in place very effective learning programmes. They use innovative ways to develop and plan the curriculum.”

Regarding the issue of improving learners’ and Apprentices’ knowledge in English and Mathematics, the inspector said: “Since the merger of the two colleges, leaders have prioritised the improvement in the English and Mathematics curriculum. This strategy ensures that all learners and Apprentices benefit from extended time with teachers to develop these important skills. Leaders work closely with other outstanding colleges in the region and local schools to improve further the quality of education in English and Mathematics.”

And in response to the effectiveness of teachers and assessors using learning assessments so that all learners and Apprentices can achieve their potential, the inspector stated: “They use the results of these assessments to plan an ambitious learning programme. As a result, many learners and Apprentices receive a rich experience at College. They learn new knowledge that will support them in their next steps of learning or future careers.”

Accrington and Rossendale College is a top 10 college in the country for 16-18 learner achievement at Level 3 and for 16-18 timely Apprenticeship completions. The College campus is currently undergoing a major £4 million redevelopment including improved study zones, a transformed student Refectory, new industry-standard Hair and Beauty salons, a revamp of the College’s acclaimed Construction department, and significant landscaping.

If you would like to apply to study at Accrington and Rossendale College, please contact 01254 389933 or visit To study at Nelson and Colne College, contact 01282 440272 or visit .

A year in review – and what a year!

As we approach the end of 2019, instead of my usual column, here is a round-up of news from throughout the year, highlighting what a stellar organisation the Nelson and Colne College Group is.


We kicked off the year with an Engineering Apprenticeship Event where more than 100 visitors attended Nelson and Colne College to discover the exciting range of career opportunities in the thriving industry. Students and local salon owners were also inspired by a visit from Dawn Ward, one of the British aesthetic industry’s leading ladies, who talked about her journey in business and the skills required to succeed.


Nelson and Colne College maintained its position as the ‘number one college’ in figures released by the Department for Education. This included our status as the number one college in Lancashire for A Level progress, the leading FE College in the country for GCSE Mathematics progress, and second nationally for GCSE English progress. Meanwhile, Lancashire Adult Learning’s approach to family learning and improving lives through adult education was praised by the National Literacy Trust during a visit to Northlight in Brierfield.


Around 200 people from Burnley and Pendle took advantage of Lancashire Adult Learning’s Raising Aspirations careers event held at Northlight. The free event was held to highlight the employment and educational opportunities available in Pendle and Burnley for those seeking employment or a change of career. Nelson and Colne College celebrated National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers Week, and was also top of the national table for 16-18 learner achievement and Apprenticeship timely achievement!


Nelson and Colne College was named as the FE College of the Year in the prestigious Educate North Awards 2019 – a fantastic honour. The awards celebrate and recognise best practice and excellence in the education sector and the honour acknowledged our outstanding performance in the areas of teaching, student experience, innovation and economic impact.


Hair and Beauty students at College learned about the history of one of Europe’s leading salon fixture and fittings manufacturers when they visited the factory of REM, based in Nelson, and discovered the company’s 100 years of heritage. A new group of volunteer teachers in Pendle, Burnley and elsewhere also took their first steps into teaching after being trained by LAL to help teach the 370 targeted learners basic English skills through the Integrated Communities English Language Programme.


Artistic and creative students had their chance to shine at the College’s annual Art and Design End of Year Show, showcasing a wide range of pieces including fine art, film, graphics, photography and textiles exhibits. I’m delighted that four of these students were later awarded Commendation Awards by the Mayor of Pendle for their contribution to art and culture in the borough.


Lancashire Adult Learning celebrated training up 700 members of the public to be lifesavers across the Red Rose County, working in partnership with the North West Ambulance Service, Lancashire County Council and BBC Radio Lancashire. Ninety-five per cent of LAL’s staff also undertook essential lifesaving training over the course of the academic year. Meanwhile, College BTEC Sport and Exercise Sciences student Dominika Bzdon had her extraordinary achievements recognised when she was named as the national BTEC Sport Student of the Year.


I was thrilled that the College bucked the national trend and enjoyed a stunning rise in the highest grades at A Level, with many progressing on to Russell Group universities, including Oxbridge, or leading Apprenticeship or employment opportunities. There were so many success stories on a brilliant day, and it was fantastic to recognise these achievements, alongside those of our vocational students, at our Star Awards.


Engineering Apprentice Michal Halamicek, who is employed at acdc as Quality Controller, won the North West Intermediate Apprentice of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards Regional Final. A richly deserved award for the amazing impact he has made at the company. Our ‘Class of 2019’ University Centre graduates also received their honours at a glittering graduation ceremony in subject areas including Business, Biology, Computing, Engineering and Teaching.


We launched a new Nelson and Colne College Group brand following our successful merger with Accrington and Rossendale College, also to incorporate Lancashire Adult Learning. Lancashire Adult Learning launched its participation in social prescribing, connecting people to non-medical support in the community – an example being where education is prescribed as an alternative to medication, empowering people with the right tools to become self-managing and resilient.


A busy month, including the celebration of everything that is great about the Red Rose County at Northlight with our wonderful Lancashire Adult Learning team. At College, we hosted our hugely successful Engineering Because event at College, attracting schools from across a wider footprint than ever before to take part in the competition and encourage them to consider a career in Engineering. Students already studying A Levels or vocational courses at College were also inspired, with Conference Day and Industry Careers Days respectively. Career focused sessions were delivered by a mix of business people, leaders, academics, our much-valued alumni network and our own fantastic teaching team here at College.


The end of a breathless year, in which so much has been achieved. Our popular Lancashire Adult Learning Festive Market was held at Nelson and Colne College, and it is also the time of year to give something back. LAL has once again taken up a lovely opportunity to become involved in the Cards for Kindness initiative, which sees greeting cards delivered to elderly residents in care homes across Lancashire, as a way to try and reduce loneliness.

With that, I wish you a happy festive period and best wishes for 2020. Amanda.