Hartpury College has been awarded an overall effectiveness rating of ‘outstanding’ including quality of education, behaviour, management and adult learning by inspectors.

The college also makes a “strong contribution” to meeting skills needs – the highest grade possible – said the inspectors from education standards body Ofsted.

Hartpury has been outstanding since 2018 and retained the grading despite the criteria having been strengthened.

The strong contribution to skills was a particular highlight of the report with college leaders working with a range of employers and community groups including the Hollie Gazzard Trust which works to prevent violence against women, Three Counties Vets, Woburn Safari Park, Western Arable, Team GB Sports, and the Football Association.

Staff were praised for their exceptional work with the Employer Representative Body, Business West, and the Federation of Small Businesses, to understand the needs of employers, which are mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises. 

Recent investment to meet gaps in digital skills in agriculture was highlighted as a good example of work with groups including the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Local Skills Improvement Plan, and the Gloucestershire Economic Strategy which helps students gain vital employability skills and knowledge.

The emphasis on preparing students for their careers was commended with the programme of guest speakers and practical sessions  described as ‘comprehensive’, noting the practical teaching sessions given to Uniformed Protective Services (UPS) students, in which visiting Royal Marine Commandos demonstrated how to prepare and cook healthier meals.

The curriculum was recognised as being well-planned, balancing theoretical and practical elements, and providing an opportunity for students to apply their learning and skills effectively through practical activities and in work placements. For example, animal care students use the animal handling skills they’re taught at college within workplace settings including wildlife parks, dog spas, veterinary centres, and kennels.

Students feel safe studying at the college and safeguarding was recognised as a top priority with inspectors noting how teachers ‘skilfully’ facilitate discussions around sensitive topics.

Hartpury College’s quality improvement process was described as thorough and effective, with governors both supporting and challenging leaders well. The college’s commitment to the continued professional development of staff ensures that teachers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality education.

College Principal Professor Andy Collop said: “Retaining our 'Outstanding' rating is testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff, whose passion for what they do creates a dynamic learning environment for our students.

“I’m delighted that the inspection found evidence of our high standards of education and support and reached such positive conclusions about the student experience. We’ll continue to work hard in the months and years to come to maintain these high standards in all areas.”

Deputy Principal Claire Whitworth added: “I am incredibly proud of my team and of course all the students who contributed to this fantastic achievement! 

“Retaining Ofsted 'Outstanding' for a second consecutive inspection over a six-year period is testament to the incredible efforts of all our staff who make our Hartpury student experience what it is. 

“They not only support students to achieve their main qualification, but also focus on the development of a plethora of employability skills and attributes alongside advancing softer skills such as confidence and resilience, ultimately providing solid foundations for lifelong success.

“Not only did we achieve ‘Outstanding’ in all areas, but we were also appraised as making a ‘strong contribution’ to meeting skills needs. 

“This is such an important aspect of what we do and really does reflect how well our offer aligns with skills requirements related to current and future job toles in support of the local, regional, and national economy. I would like to thank all the external stakeholders who we work with, of whom there are far too many to mention, for their ongoing support and commitment to Hartpury College and in helping us shape our offer for students.

“Finally, a phrase that I heard mentioned a few times over the inspection period was that ‘the air at Hartpury crackles with positivity’. This, to me, really does sum up Team Hartpury.”

Click here to read the Ofsted inspection report in full.