CONSISTENCY and quality of teaching and learning in classrooms will be the key issues for Tavistock College next term, as Ofsted inspectors last week announced their interim report, writes Alison Stephenson.

The college has three more months to turn itself around, after it was given a 'notice to improve' earlier this year. The college principal and chairman of governors this week said they were very positive with the new measures put in place, including a large number of new recruits and close working relationship with advisors from the LEA.

More than ten new members of staff and two advanced skills teachers have been appointed to help to take the college forward into a new era.

The latest monitoring report by Ofsted said standards across the school were satisfactory and students were making satisfactory progress — but too many teachers were still not planning sufficiently thoroughly to take account of prior learning or to meet the specific needs of individual students.

It also said that many teachers were not taking sufficient responsibility for the quality of learning and progress of individuals in their classes, including those with learning difficulties and disabilities: 'Teachers do not appear to have the skills to support students who have literacy difficulties, particularly at Key Stage 4,' said inspectors. There were also inconsistencies in marking and giving constructive help to students on how to improve.

But the report states that a new system to manage classroom behaviour was beginning to have a positive effect and instability within the school's senior leadership had now been resolved.

Ofsted inspectors recognised the work of the chair of governors Mandy Govier, who challenged the school leadership effectively, they said.

'She is rightly anxious that the pace of improvement should accelerate now the new leadership team is in place, with a strong focus on raising the quality of teaching and learning and the progress made by all students in lessons.'

Principal Colin Eves said the college had needed to address a significant number of challenges and strategies were now in place to deal with those.

He said the college was now in the top 30 most improving schools in the country. There was a substantial leap in strong GCSE results last year and the best-ever results recorded by sixth form students and an improvement in the balance of the curriculum.

'Looking at the statistics we are performing very highly and fast improving both locally and nationally,' he said. 'The report recognises that we are making satisfactory progress which is great and I am happy that we are now in a position to build on the significant improvements shown in standards in recent years. From September onwards our full focus can be on teaching and learning.'

He said there had been monitoring systems in place for teaching but these were being strengthened to make sure there was consistency across the college. He added that the college had taken advantage of the support offered by the local authority, although the Ofsted report stated that available LEA funding for help with school leadership had not been fully used.

'We will be doing more work with local authority advisors and there will be more than ten new members of staff in September which is a significant staff turnover,' he said. 'We are delighted with the appointments and welcome our new staff who are going to bring a very diverse range of skills.'

Mandy Govier said she was delighted with the new teachers, restructuring within the college and the continuing work with the LEA: 'I feel very enthusiastic about the turnaround that is going on in this school,' she said.