Norfolk Community Learning Services celebrates ‘Good’ Ofsted report in major turnaround

20 May 2016

Education in Norfolk has received another boost with the news that Norfolk Community Learning Services (NCLS) has achieved an Ofsted inspection judgement of ‘Good’, providing Norfolk County Council with the security and sustainability to achieve its long term objectives for the service. This follows a previous judgement of ‘Inadequate’ in January 2015. At the recent inspection (April 2016), Ofsted inspectors said that “Leaders and managers have dealt quickly and very effectively with key issues identified at the previous inspection”.

Inspectors were impressed by the new vision, strategic objectives and operating model for the service, formerly known as Adult Education. These were approved by Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee and implementation will be complete by September 2016.

Helen Wetherall, NCLS’s Interim Head of Service said: “This is a fantastic outcome brought about by a mammoth team effort.  As a Council we made the commitment last summer that we would work towards an Ofsted ‘Good’ outcome, missing out a ‘Requires Improvement’.  In one jump and over a year this was a very tall order but with everyone working together it has been achieved.  Our ambition does not stop here – our next goal is to be an ‘Outstanding’ service and we will be working closely with our learners, partners, governors and staff to achieve this.  We believe this is possible and we are ‘going for it’!”

Cllr Richard Bearman, Chairman of the NCLS Steering Group said: “This is such a well-deserved achievement. The transformation has involved a lot of hard work and dedication from staff and I am truly delighted by this result."

Norfolk County Council’s Chairman of Communities, Margaret Dewsbury said: “This outcome allows us to move forward in a positive and dynamic way, putting learners at the heart of everything we do. We now have a service that will meet and support their needs with every step of their learning experience.”

The service’s focus on ensuring that “the curriculum is closely aligned to Norfolk’s and learners’ needs” was commented on by the inspection team. The service is focused on engaging and inspiring ‘hard to reach’ learners and people who are returning to learning and who would not normally, and easily, access provision offered by other educational institutions in Norfolk.

Also on offer is a programme of commercially delivered ‘full cost’ courses with the aim of ensuring that there continues to be ‘leisure and pleasure’ subjects available which meet the need for extended social learning in a range of disciplines, mainly the arts and crafts and language courses.

Another difference to the service will be the availability of courses at a higher level, that other providers do not offer and in a flexible way. In this way the service will fulfil its vision and mission to provide learning opportunities that other organisations are not able to provide and so meet the educational needs of learners in Norfolk that would otherwise not be met.

In order to deliver the new vision more effectively and easily a full service restructure has taken place and will be fully operational by 1 August this year. 

Promoting courses has already begun with a week-long Norfolk Community Learning Services event at Wensum Lodge that begins on 30 May. Other activities will include a Roadshow bus that will be touring the region from 5 June.

Note to editors:

Ofsted report can be viewed here:

For political comment 

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury (Conservative) Chairman of the Communities Committee, on 01603 759693
Cllr Julie Brociek-Coulton (Labour) on 07786 694325
Cllr Paul Smyth (UKIP) on 07733 431358
Cllr David Harrison (Liberal Democrat) on 01263 735316
Cllr Richard Bearman (Green) on 01603 504124

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