New Look Halls of Residence Wins Praise

Mon, 30 July 2012

Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) said an on-going four-year £1m refurbishment has vastly improved accommodation standards at the college.

Upgrades have been made to all 204 bedrooms, as well bathrooms and central heating over the past two years and other changes - including refitting kitchens and common rooms - are scheduled by 2014 when the works programme ends.

The polished overhaul has led Ofsted to raise its grading of the halls from ‘satisfactory’ at its last inspection in 2009, to ‘good’ in a report unveiled today.

Delighted college chiefs say students from home and abroad can expect better accommodation than ever before.

Helen Beaton, Deputy Principal (Finance and Resources), said: “We are thrilled by Ofsted’s rating which clearly recognises improved standards.

“We saw a need to make changes and have invested a substantial amount of money into this very important feature of college life.

“Students who stay with us while they learn can do so in very modern and comfortable surroundings.

“We have been trying to ensure our halls have a more university-type ethos, where students are treated like adults and can show they can live independently.

“I am thrilled with the results and believe students from all over the world will find us an even more attractive place to learn.

“The success of this work corresponds to recent improvements made by the college which have also been recognised by Ofsted. We are determined to carry that good work on.

“South Tyneside College is the only North East college whose standards are judged by Ofsted to be rising. We are very proud of that.”

Mike DeVies, Head of Soft Services at the college, added: “A lot of staff have played key roles in this successful transformation. Their hard work and dedication to college life has paid off.

“For example, our cleaners can see at first-hand how well the changes are going and how much the students like and appreciate their surroundings.

“The halls are now much more welcoming, and we feel the improved environment will give our students greater impetus to work hard and do well. We are very pleased with the results so far.”

The halls, based at the college’s South Shields headquarters in St Georges Avenue, Westoe, were built in the early 1970s and comprise of six blocks. Bedrooms contain a sink, bed, desk and chair, wardrobe, and easy chair. There are communal showers and toilets.

An Ofsted inspector spent four days on site in May examining the halls and talking with students. He also judged pastoral support, how well the college encourages students to be independent and the way they are cared for - including a curfew being implemented for those aged under 18.
The resulting report praised the College for its arrangements to ensure resident leaners have practical access for any first aid or minor treatment when needed as well as advice and support available to learners on any health or personal issues.

Many students who live within the college are from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent or Africa, but a high proportion are from across the UK, with some even from South Tyneside. They are mainly marine students on first stage training who have to prove to shipping companies that they can live away from home.

The halls can also play home to visiting non-students in need of accommodation while staying in the North East, and to others during the summer months and academic holidays.

Around £500,000 has so far been spent, with the same amount planned for the remainder of the overhaul which will include refurbished common rooms and kitchens, and new windows and furniture.

The college employs a halls team made up of a bursar and resident manager who live on-site, 24-hour security, and cleaning, maintenance and administrative staff.

The college was praised by Ofsted in a separate report earlier this month.

Inspectors said it had improved performance monitoring and gathering, and was making good use of feedback from employers and students. Staff were found to be more involved in the self-assessment process, which was now more critical and evaluative. The effectiveness of teaching and learning was also recognised with new learning coaches bringing improvements and staff found to be enthusiastic.

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