Education Partnership North East’s colleges have been rated as ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted following their recent inspection.  

Inspectors met with governors, College leaders, staff, students, employers and community partners during their week-long visit in May across Hartlepool Sixth Form, Northumberland College and Sunderland College, concluding all areas were ‘Good’ and the personal development of our students graded ‘Outstanding’.  

In terms of the Group’s ‘Overall Effectiveness’, Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form both retained their 2016 rating with Northumberland College undergoing a ‘remarkable’ turnaround after being identified as ‘Requiring Improvement’ in 2019.  

Across EPNE, the report stated: “[EPNE] has created an environment where staff embrace talents, focus on deprivation, ensure learners are safe, support learners to be individuals and increase learners’ understanding of their own wellbeing. This is embedded across the whole Partnership and is modelled by staff who lead by example.  

“Students benefit from a calm and focused environment and experience a culture of high expectations” and “leaders and staff successfully support students to become respectful and responsible citizens.” 

“Students demonstrate positive attitudes to learning. They enjoy their lessons and take pride in their work. They behave well and attend their lessons on time.”  

Hartlepool Sixth Form: Has “developed courses in Hartlepool that respond to the key priorities” and “that respond effectively to national, regional and local priorities and that enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they need for employment, further training and progression to higher education.”  

Northumberland College: “Since the merger with Northumberland College in 2019, the College has taken action to address successfully significant issues relating to the curriculum, the quality of education, health and safety and finance. This has resulted in rapid improvements in the provision at the College.”  

“Students benefit from being taught in well-resourced and modern learning environments. The College has transformed the learning environments at Kirkley Hall at Northumberland College.”  

Sunderland College: “Tutors are well qualified and experts in their field. They use their expertise to teach the curriculum well.”  

“Students with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and students with high needs receive personalised and targeted support.”  

Education Partnership North East colleges also “identify and develop provision that is responsive to changes in industries.”  

Ofsted does not provide an inspection report under the names of Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form, with the report applying to all colleges in Education Partnership North East. 

Read the full report at: Inspection of Education Partnership North East (May 2022) 

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, said: “We’re on a journey to ‘Outstanding’ and this great report is a further step towards that ambition.  

“The report reflects the tremendous work and determination of our staff, students and governors to work together to provide the best possible learning experience.  

“We recognise there are further improvements needed to get us to ‘Outstanding’ but that is our aim, and we’ll continue to work together to get there.  

“While we’re delighted at the overall grade and, in particular what the inspectors said about teaching and student behaviours, we’re thrilled with the ‘Outstanding’ grade for the personal development of our students. This is a reflection of so many staff including those within curriculum and student support functions.”

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19