Cirencester College is an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ college in a rural setting on the outskirts of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. One of only three designated specialist Sixth Form Colleges in the South West, Cirencester College is one of the top ranking Sixth Form Colleges in the country..
The College provides a bridge between school and university, apprenticeships or employment. Students experience the academic challenge, pastoral support and enrichment expected at the best sixth form but with a more adult ethos, based on mutual respect, to prepare you to be a successful, independent person.
The College offers an unrivalled choice of subjects from Level 1 Works4Me course to degree level. The great choice of A-levels, vocational courses and professional apprenticeships is a major reason why so many students make us their first choice.
Cirencester ensures that students achieve their full potential through individual student tutorials. Cirencester Sixth Form College’s reputation for excellent teaching, learning, innovation and student support produces consistently high value added scores and achievement rates.
For 12 consecutive years the College has had a 99% pass rate at A level and has seen an exceptional rise in A* to B rates. Professional vocational courses have performed well with nearly 50% of vocational students gaining either triple distinctions or triple distinction stars.
The College currently has approximately 2,200 full-time 16-19 year old students and Jim Grant was appointed Interim Principal in September 2016.
About a third of our students are from Cirencester, a third from Swindon/N Wilts and the rest from around Gloucestershire. Many travel some distance to get here which means that they are highly motivated and want to succeed. They quickly adapt to the atmosphere of high expectations and support in College and always impress visitors with their politeness and focus. They are generally punctual to class, respond well to their lecturers and peers and focus on their work. Staff who have joined us from other schools and colleges are usually pleasantly surprised. Unlike many local 6ths we have an inclusive approach to recruitment and use GCSE scores to select on the basis of potential to succeed. We give a much wider range the opportunity and they generally repay that approach by doing very well. Most students are on level 3 programmes, with the majority doing A Levels, although all students have access to the same broad enrichment programme.
Parents are supportive of their sons and daughters and of the College. We have Parents’ Evenings twice a year to provide feedback and discuss any issues. We continue to develop a range of on line tools to improve communication further.
Our lecturers are well qualified academically or in their vocational fields. A large number also work as external examiners. Almost all are trained teachers with a majority having been trained here whilst in their first year with us. Lecturers are grouped in Departments and then In Faculties, each of which has a staff base. Team working is strong and lecturers frequently share best practice within and between groups. We have a strong tradition of staff development including weekly teaching and learning sessions which many staff attend and where sessions are often led by their peers.
Lecturers are currently on a GFE contract as the College was originally a Tertiary College. However, we have made some moves towards shadowing 6th Form College contracts including reducing the number of directed days to 195 and prioritising raising pay levels. Currently class sizes are very low for a 6th form College although they are gradually rising.
Lecturers also have one of the lowest annual teaching loads (815 hours). All lecturers are also tutors and most contribute to enrichment and/or out of class learning.
We have a strong track-record of ‘growing our own staff’. In addition to training a majority of our lecturers we have also developed many of them in promoted posts. 10/12 Department Heads and 3/4 Faculty Heads were promoted internally. The College invests in staff development and is responsive to staff requests for additional training.
Learning and the student experience is also well supported by our teams of support staff, most of who are based centrally in the student journey unit in the hub or in our learning support centre adjoining the library. Support services pride themselves on their good customer care which is widely recognised by parents and students.
Our Campus adjoins the early Eighteenth century Cirencester Park and is a 15 minute walk from town. Our own site has seen a transformation over the last 3 years as we move from having the worst buildings of a major 6th form College to some of the best. The latter includes a major new teaching block, a Sport and Fitness Centre with yet another teaching block including labs being built in 2015-16. Our hope is that within 2 years all lessons will be taught in good facilities. Our site can probably take up to 2500 students with current numbers being around 2100.
IT infrastructure is excellent and classrooms and study areas well served with data connections and Wi-Fi. Teaching rooms are equipped with projectors and smart boards with sets of laptops also available in most areas. Increasingly lecturers provide additional support to students via courses set up on our VLE (Moodle).