Colleges challenged to serve up a recipe for success

Two new reports highlight the ingredients of outstanding provision in hospitality and catering, and in hairdressing and beauty therapy.

Published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), the two reports identify the key features enabling post-16 students to reach high standards.

In each report, inspectors provide case studies of good practice drawn from a sample of visits to 12 colleges where provision was rated good or outstanding at their last inspection. The surveys focus on effective teaching and the celebration of learners’ success. The role of college commercial premises in honing students’ technical and client care skills in a business environment is also highlighted.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:

'For students there is nothing like hands-on experience to develop skills. Effective teaching, good curriculum management and recognising student success are at the centre of the best examples identified in these reports. Those interested in achieving success in hospitality, catering, hairdressing and beauty should learn from the examples of good practice highlighted here.'

Bustling college restaurants provide learner chefs with opportunities to master a range of culinary techniques while ‘front of house’ hospitality learners develop important social and organisational skills. Hairdressing and beauty therapy learners benefit from working in often busy college salons, delivering a range of treatments from nail art and aromatherapy, to reflexology and massage.

Careful lesson planning and effective identification of individual needs were an important feature of the best college provision. Learning activities based on best practice from the commercial sector, and demonstrations of skills and techniques from teachers and industry specialists, helped students to achieve high success rates.

Local, regional and national competitions were an integral part of students’ learning in hospitality, catering and hairdressing, stretching students’ abilities as they accomplished complex competition tasks. Celebrating learners’ success was an important feature of the best provision in hairdressing and beauty therapy. In the most innovative examples, colleges linked up with local employers and product companies to hold prize presentations to recognise student success.

Courses were well matched to the needs of learners and employers. In the best examples, colleges offered a broad range of full or part time courses, Train to Gain workplace learning, and apprenticeships in the local community. Colleges worked in partnership with professional associations and supermarket chains to provide professional cookery training. College work-placements in busy commercial spas and salons also helped to develop the technical and customer care skills of hairdressing and beauty learners. Numeracy and literacy were integral parts of teaching in hairdressing and beauty therapy courses, helping to improve learners’ professional skills.

Good curriculum management provided a clear and effective focus on raising learning standards and meeting the needs of industry for a skilled workforce. The provision of high quality specialist accommodation and resources was also an important factor in motivating learners.

Ofsted has made a number of recommendations to further improve the learning experience for students, including:

  • The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) should provide support and staff development to ensure the sharing of good practice amongst vocational specialists in these areas.
  • Colleges should develop the use of information learning technology to engage hospitality and catering learners in theory classes and promote interaction between them.
  • Colleges should work with local authorities, schools and employers to recruit more men onto hairdressing and beauty therapy provision.
    Colleges should ensure the provision of clients in hairdressing and beauty salons throughout the working week is sufficient in number and variety so that all learners can make good progress

Notes for Editors

1. The reports, Identifying good practice: a survey of college provision in hairdressing and beauty therapy and Identifying good practice: a survey of college provision in hospitality and catering can be found on the Ofsted website.

2. For each report, inspectors visited a sample of 12 colleges where provision had been judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. The inspections took place between September 2007 and March 2008.

3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects registered childcare and children's social care, including adoption and fostering agencies, residential schools, family centres and homes for children. It also inspects all state maintained schools, non-association independent schools, pupil referral units, further education, initial teacher education, and publicly funded adult skills and employment-based training, the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service (Cafcass), and the overall level of services for children in local authority areas (through annual performance assessments and joint area reviews).

5. The Ofsted Press Office can be contacted on 08456 404040 between 8.30am – 6.30pm Monday – Friday. During evenings and weekends we can be reached on 07919 057359.