Fostering an outstanding culture
By Paul Britton, Assistant Principal, Nelson & Colne College
Nelson & Colne College is a small tertiary college in Pennine Lancashire. We serve a diverse community with some areas of very high deprivation and significant ethnic difference. We offer a full range of courses from entry level to level 4, including apprenticeships. Roughly one third of our 1750 full time 16-18 students study A levels and another third study BTEC extended diplomas. The college has been graded outstanding by Ofsted since 2005 and we have not been inspected since 2008 due to continued very high success rates and value-added performance.
At first glance, it is not obvious why such a high performing college should exist in two small, post-industrial towns at the head of a wet and windy valley in Lancashire. The performance of most secondary schools in the local area is below national averages, in some cases significantly so. There are a number of social and economic challenges faced by our students that, in my previous experience, have acted as significant barriers to achievement. The college has had quite a bit of change in leadership since 2005.
There is one straightforward answer to the question: culture.