By Martin Walker
South West Durham Training (SWDT) has revealed it has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted after a series of year-long improvements.
The Newton Aycliffe training provider, based in the heart of Aycliffe Business Park, has been given the stamp of approval under the Further Education and Skills inspection report, which attributed the result to the hard work and commitment from all its staff.
It comes just a year after Ofsted inspectors told SWDT that improvements were needed.
SWDT offers intermediate and advanced apprenticeships in engineering in Newton Aycliffe and the North-East.
It recently launched an Employer Pledge campaign, which aims to promote the value to companies of employing an apprentice, and has recently secured a prestigious contract to work closely with Hitachi Rail Europe.
SWDT was given the top grade in all four areas: overall effectiveness, outcomes for learners, quality of teaching, learning and assessment and effectiveness of leadership and management.
The training centre, which is a registered charity, is the first member of the Group Training Association of England ever to have received an outstanding grade across all areas of provision.
The report said SWDT “has made considerable progress since the last inspection in 2013 and outcomes for learners are consistently high” and that “the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is now outstanding and learners receive particularly helpful guidance and support from vocational tutor assessors”.
The Ofsted inspectors were so impressed with the centre’s practice in the use of data and the teaching of English and maths that these are to be recognised as two areas of best practice for providers across the country to learn from.
SWDT chief executive Trevor Alley (pictured above) said: “Having spent the past 10 years as an Ofsted inspector, I knew only too well what was required to improve the training environment here at SWDT.
“I’m thrilled that the inspectors recognised the hard work and commitment shown by not only our staff but also the learners.
“I was particularly pleased that the report commented that leaders, managers and staff at SWDT are passionate about what they contribute to the success of their learners and apprentices.
“It’s a tremendous achievement for any training provider to receive an outstanding report and I’m delighted the team’s hard work over the past year has paid off to make a complete turnaround.
“We have a long-term vision for South West Durham Training and that is to raise aspirations and attainment among our learners and produce highly skilled engineers who will excel when they leave us.
“Substantial progress has been made over the past year and we hope to continue this great work and build on the momentum.”
Ofsted reinforced this vision, stating that “very good development plans are in place to sustain and improve provision further”.