Peak District college aims for summit after inspectors’ praise

Hope Valley College principal Bernie Hunter with students showing off the Ofsted report.
Hope Valley College principal Bernie Hunter with students showing off the Ofsted report.

Things are on the up at a Peak District college which has been rated ‘good’ in all categories by a team of Ofsted inspectors.

Hope Valley College has moved up a grade after it was found to require improvement during a check in 2012.

Students were found to be making good progress and achieved above average results in both English and maths in their most recent exams.

Teaching at the Hope school was typically good, with some that was outstanding, while staff were praised for their strong subject knowledge.

Pupils behaved well in lessons and around the school, and said they felt safe while there.

Bernie Hunter, principal, said: “We have worked hard to ensure the college provides a high standard of education that delivers both academic and vocational success in a caring and positive environment.

“We are delighted this was recognised by inspectors in our inspection and we are committed to maintaining this high quality provision of education for the local community.”

Inspectors found the school had improved quickly since its last inspection because of the determination of Mr Hunter, other senior leaders and the staff themselves to improve teaching quality.

They say the academy, which caters for more than 600 pupils aged 11 to 16, is characterised by its caring and harmonious nature, with parents speaking highly of the personal attention and care given to students.

A particular strength was the college’s provision for disabled youngsters and those who attend with special needs.

It was also praised for its effective promotion of the students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, both through rich and varied learning experiences and through the example set by staff.

It was felt there was still work to do as senior staff were not yet making the most of available data to analyse the pupils’ performance and to identify further priorities for improvement.

Extra funding from the Government was helping disadvantaged students catch up with their peers in the older year groups, but a similar impact was yet to be seen further down the school.

Some subject leaders also did not routinely check the quality of marking, so pupils were not always clear about how to improve their work.

Mr Hunter said GCSE results had now risen to well above the national average, with rates of progress in English and maths amongst the highest in Derbyshire.

He said: “We are proud of what we have achieved since our last inspection and will now be working towards being judged ‘outstanding’ in a future one.

“We take every opportunity provide our students with a varied and enriching educational experience that delivers success academically, vocationally and socially.

“We are pleased this was recognised alongside our high standard of teaching.”