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31/10/14 - Strode College is 'Outstanding' says Ofsted
Strode College is 'Outstanding' says Ofsted

Update: Ofsted's Annual Report Praises Educational Excellence at Strode College and Ansford Academy

The only school sixth form or college in Somerset to make the grade since tougher inspections were introduced in 2010.

Strode College in Street, Somerset, has been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted following a full and rigorous inspection last month. 

Strode College is the only provider of sixth form education in Somerset to be awarded this highest possible rating since Ofsted introduced new tougher inspection criteria in 2010, including the requirement for a school or college to clearly demonstrate ‘outstanding teaching and learning’. Strode College’s ‘outstanding’ grade bucks the trend in Somerset and across the country, which has seen other school and college sixth forms losing their ‘outstanding’ grade under the new system.

This exceptional achievement further supports the positive picture that has emerged in recent years as the college has gone from strength to strength. The 2014 government league tables ranked Strode College as the best school or college in Somerset for student progress at A Level and the second best college in the South West for both A Level and advanced vocational courses. This outstanding performance is also validated by Advanced Level Performance Systems (ALPS) which place Strode in the top 5% of all state schools and colleges nationally for improving student progress or ‘adding-value’ after GCSEs over the last three years.

In the report, published today, Ofsted grades Strode College as ‘outstanding‘ in all four key inspection areas: ‘overall effectiveness’, ‘quality of teaching, learning and assessment’, ‘outcomes for students’ and ‘effectiveness of leadership and management’.

Ofsted says: “Students benefit significantly from outstanding teaching, learning and assessment which are reflected in outstanding outcomes. The high quality of teaching, alongside exceptionally strong pastoral and academic support, enables the vast majority of students to make excellent progress. Teachers and assessors have very high and realistic expectations for all students, which lead to the high level of students’ achievements across the college.

James StaniforthJames Staniforth became Principal of Strode College five years ago, with a vision to move the college from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’. He is delighted that Ofsted saw what he sees every day and said:

“Those who work in education know that an ‘outstanding’ grade is not easily achieved. Our college specialises in education for 16-18 year olds and our teachers and support staff are among the most talented, experienced and dedicated that I have ever known. I am thrilled that, following an intense and forensic inspection, Ofsted were able to see this and have now reported on the outstanding and positive difference this makes to our students’ lives.

“Among our many strengths highlighted in the Ofsted report, I am particularly delighted that our teaching and learning was judged to be ‘outstanding’; the inspectors saw a particularly high proportion of outstanding lessons across all curriculum areas. This is the focus of everything we do and, combined with the outstanding academic and pastoral support we provide for our students, it is how we make sure that all of our students progress, reach their full potential and go on to succeed after college at university and in employment. I am extremely proud and it is a great feeling to have our college and our approach to learning validated in this way.”

Outstanding teaching and learning: “Teaching learning and assessment are outstanding and result in the vast majority of students successfully completing their courses and achieving their qualifications...As a result of the enthusiasm and expert direction of teachers, students are interested and motivated.”

Outstanding student progress leads to outstanding results which are better than might be expected based on GCSEs: “Over several years, most students have consistently made outstanding progress relative to their starting point.”

Outstanding support for all students: “Regular and effective review and intervention processes have successfully raised standards and aspirations and improved outcomes for students…Teachers’ use of target setting and review processes is highly successful in supporting students at risk of underachieving…Any students underperforming receive extra help...Arrangements to support students with welfare issues are excellent.”

Outstanding guidance and support: “Students receive outstanding information and advice which enables them to make well-informed choices before they start college and during their study programme…Pastoral and academic support and guidance as well as careers advice and guidance are also outstanding.”

Students at computerWide choice of A Levels, vocational courses and enrichment: “Students have access to a particularly broad range of courses within an extensive curriculum that meets their needs and interests very well…Students benefit particularly from the wide variety of enrichment activities available to them, which help them develop a broad range of transferable skills”

Preparing students for success at university and in employment: “A particularly high proportion of students at all levels successfully progress on to appropriate and sustainable further or higher education or to employment…The majority of students participate in a broad range of good enrichment and work experience activities that enable them to develop skills that help prepare them effectively for progression to further or higher education or employment…Teachers use tutorials particularly well to develop student’s personal, social and employability skills.”

Developing literacy and numeracy: “Students develop excellent literacy and numeracy skills. Teachers integrate the teaching of English and mathematics very successfully in lessons…Students understand the importance and relevance of English and mathematics, both to their study and to their employment prospects.”

Valuing individuals: “Students behave well and feel safe in college. They appreciate the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere in lessons, where everyone feels equally valued. Students value the promotion of a culture of respect in college…Teachers’ support for individual students is excellent. ”

Outstanding leadership: “Leadership and management are outstanding. Senior managers have established a very ambitious vision and strategic priorities that are successfully raising aspirations and supporting all students to achieve their potential…Managers at every level throughout the college are committed to raising standards…and delivery of high quality learning programmes and support services.”

Stephen BowerStephen Bower, Student Governor and President of the Strode College Student Association said: “It’s really difficult to get an ‘outstanding’ grade from Ofsted, so this is a great achievement - it shows that Strode really is one of the very best schools or colleges in the country. The teachers here are fantastic, not only are they specialists and truly interested in the subjects they teach, but they are all so positive and go beyond the call of duty to help the students to do well.”

Strode College is the main provider of sixth form education in Mendip with students travelling to Strode from across Somerset. The college currently teaches over 1500 students aged 16-18; 90% are studying at advanced level, with the majority studying A Levels and others choosing vocational courses and Apprenticeships.

The college is holding a sixth-form Open Evening on Wednesday 19 November, 6-8.30pm. It’s a great opportunity to get ‘outstanding ‘ advice about what to study after GCSEs and to find out what makes an ‘outstanding’ sixth-form experience. You can register online at or turn up on the night. 

View the full Ofsted report or visit the Ofsted website.

28/10/14 - Free Leadership and Management Training for Small and Medium Companies
Free Leadership and Management Training for Small and Medium Companies

Strode College will be running free Leadership and Management training from January 2015 and funding is available now for a short period to companies with up to 249 employees.

This qualification is designed for people in their first management roles, including team leaders and first-line managers, to enable them to get the best performance from their staff.

Download the flyer

10/10/14 - Strode Sports Centre Community Open Day: Saturday 25 October 10am - 2pm
Strode Sports Centre Community Open Day: Saturday 25 October 10am - 2pm

The Sports Centre at Strode College is opening its doors to the local community for the third time on Saturday 25 October, with its annual ‘Strode Sports Centre Community Open Day’.

Visitors to the event will be able to ‘give it a go’ by trying out a variety of 30 minute taster sessions for free, including Spinning, Body Combat, Kettle Bells and Body Pump. Instructors will be on hand to answer any questions on the day and visitors will also have the opportunity sign up to gym membership which starts at £18 per month or classes which cost between £3-£4.50 per class.

Other attractions on offer include Strode’s own climbing wall, a bouncy castle and a barbeque.

Strode’s Sports Hall Development Manager, Mike Dear said: “It’s a great opportunity to try out the fantastic facilities we have here at the Sports Hall, and a fun family day out too.”

Photo: The static climbing wall is just one of the many attractions at Strode College’s Sports Open Day

09/10/14 - Hinkley Skills Fund
Hinkley Skills Fund

Is your workforce ready for Hinkley?

Strode College works with businesses to upskill staff and provide necessary qualifications. We can also help grow your business through apprenticeships and support successful recruitment via traineeships. Right now, Strode College can help reposition your business ready to be part of the Hinkley supply chain through the Skills Fund for Hinkley.

Skills Fund for Hinkley

The Skills Fund for Hinkley is financed by the European Union and The European Social Fund in England is investing in jobs and skills, focusing on people who need support the most and helping them fulfil their potential.

This programme is financed by the European Union

The Skills Fund can support small and medium employers to re-skill and upskill their workforce in preparation for the Hinkley Point C Project. Training can be tailored to meet your requirements. Along with other training providers in the South West. Strode College has secured funding that will enable training opportunities across the South West. If you have any questions feel free to call or email us at, or 01458 844457.

19/09/14 - Strode College Leads Teaching of Chinese in Somerset
Strode College Leads Teaching of Chinese in Somerset

Students from across the county are being given a unique opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese. This exciting initiative, which will see the language made available in state education across Mendip and South Somerset, is being led by Strode College with the support of the Confucius Institute based at the University of Southampton.

Students at Strode College now have the option to learn this important world language as a free enrichment activity and, at the same time, pupils in seven different secondary schools and five local primaries are also beginning courses in Mandarin, culminating in a range of qualifications including GCSE.

Lessons will be led by two well-qualified and experienced Chinese teachers, who have been specially selected to come to the UK to deliver this programme. As well as receiving language tuition from these enthusiastic native speakers, students will also consider modern-day life in this globally significant society and gain a deeper understanding of China’s rich heritage through a range of cultural activities.

This major development takes place within the context of the extensive link between Somerset and the southern Chinese city of Yueyang (Hunan), which now involves over 40 educational establishments in addition to engaging actively with the wider community in both areas.

This exciting venture saw a group of students from Strode College and local schools travel to China this summer. Further reciprocal visits involving Head Teachers and other staff will be taking place in October 2014, against a broad agenda for future joint activity in schools, colleges and the business sector.

Adrian Ash, Higher Education and International Manager at Strode College, said: “At a time when Chinese influence is growing in our region through investments at Hinkley Point C and the diverse employment prospects this is set to offer, the chance for local students to get to know the country and obtain some proficiency in its language is of utmost value to our young people. This ambitious project is not, however, limited to those in full-time education, as Strode College

will also be providing evening classes in Mandarin Chinese through its adult education programme to ensure that everyone in Somerset can benefit from this fascinating linguistic and cultural experience. “

If you would like more information about this project or to find out about Mandarin evening classes at Strode College, call 01458 844400 or view our Mandarin classes on the Strode Website.

Photo: Central South Technical College, Yueyang, China, welcomes students and staff from its UK partner Strode College, as well as those from Crispin School and Ansford Academy during a fully-funded two-week visit to China in July.

12/09/14 - Cardboard Couture comes to College Catwalk
Cardboard Couture comes to College Catwalk

Art and Design students at Strode College showed impressive skill and creativity in their first week at college, making cardboard couture costumes for the college catwalk.  

Students worked together in small groups to create sturdy but stylish cardboard costumes in less than two days before the project finale which was a catwalk show in front of other students and staff.

Students created costumes such as King of the Sea, The Steam Queens, Dragon Hearts, The Mad Hattress, Circolion and Equinox. All of the costumes showed a great deal of thought, imagination and skill, with some groups using further props to support their creation such as bubbles and ‘smoke’ - which was made from a combination of talcum powder and glitter.

Duncan Cameron, Strode College’s Foundation Art and Design course manager, said: “We always kick off the year with a project to warm up the students’ creativity after the summer holidays and to get them working together in small groups – we want them to hit the ground running with this fun induction! They’ve shown great design and construction skills and created some fantastic costumes in only 48 hours, using recycled cardboard, brown tape, paper and string. We’ve had a great time working with them - watching their ideas develop and their confidence grow. I think we’re in for another great year of art and design at Strode.”

CircolionStudents who worked on the cardboard costumes are studying Art and Design Level 3 Extended Diploma and Art and Design Foundation pre-degree Diploma.

Sam Copsey is from Langport and was previously a student at Huish Episcopi Academy. He is currently studying Art and Design L3 Extended Diploma and worked with the team that created ‘Circolion’. He also modelled the cardboard creation for the catwalk. Sam said: “The idea was that the lion had escaped from the circus and was now exacting his revenge on his captors.” Circolion wears a tailcoat, a bowtie and clown shoes, carries a lion tamer’s whip and has a broken chain around his wrist. “It took about two and half days in total to make this outfit,” said Sam, “I took some of it home and worked on it there.

“I really enjoyed working on this project - everyone is so friendly at here at Strode. It was really good fun – it’s a brilliant art department.” Sam plans to go on to Falmouth University when he finishes his studies at Strode.

Clara Mumford-Turner lives in Wookey Hole and was home educated. She is currently studying the Art and Design Foundation pre-degree diploma. She was on the team that created ‘Chinese Dragonballs’. “We wanted to create something that was large and impressive – something ambitious. The head alone took two days to make.

“Strode is such a friendly college. I love the independence you get here as a student. The teachers treat us like adults and are always on hand to help. I would say it’s the best Art Foundation course in the area.” Clara plans to go on to study at either Falmouth or Edinburgh University.

Other exciting outfits included Gift Horse, The Mice, The Little Mermaid, Snakey, Chinese Fireballs, Dave the Dinosaur, Wings, Jackel 5, and Dragon.

See more photos of the students’ cardboard couture

Strode also teaches A Level Art and Design and Art and Design Level 2 Diploma.  For full details of courses available and for more photos of the cardboard creations visit the college website:

10/09/14 - Business Skills Funding Gives Boost to Local Economy
Business Skills Funding Gives Boost to Local Economy

Strode College has grants and bursaries available for local businesses that want to up-skill and reskill their workforce, linked to a range of forward-thinking finance initiatives, including the Hinkley C Development. 

These grants are available through the college’s Business Development Team, which provides a variety of business-focussed training to regional and national companies.

Graeme Tucker, Head of the Strode College’s Business Development Team said: “I’m delighted that we have been given the opportunity through the European Social Fund (ESF) to support businesses in the region to get ready to be part of the Hinkley C Development. The ESF supports Member States’ employment and skills policies. We have access to funding right now which means we can offer grants right now to local businesses who want to upskill or reskill their workforce in readiness to become part of the Hinkley supply chain”. 

Local eligible businesses can also benefit from other targeted training funds held by Strode College - typically small to medium sized companies employing up to 250 people.

Graeme Tucker said: “Companies employing fewer than 250 people are in the majority in the South West. In an increasingly competitive environment operational considerations tend to take priority and it can difficult to find the funds to support employee training, including those who want to develop higher level skills. However, developing a strong and talented workforce will ultimately help a business grow and we have some targeted funding available to support local businesses to do this.”

Strode’s Business Development team also offer a range of scheduled business-focussed training courses at the college and more flexible training such as leadership and management development that can be delivered outside of college.

Whatever sector of industry you operate in - food manufacturing, retail, care, advanced engineering, hospitality - whether you are an employer or an employee, the Strode College Business Development team will help you find a solution to your companies’ training needs and advise you on what funding is available. 

For further information about exciting funding opportunities for businesses and Strode College’s other services for business, contact the Strode College Business Development team on: 01458 844457 or

04/09/14 - A Thousand New Students Welcomed to Vibrant Strode College
A Thousand New Students Welcomed to Vibrant Strode College

A thousand new students began studying A Levels and vocational courses at Strode College this week, but before they got down to some hard work they had fun at the College Fresher’s Fair finding out about the many clubs, activities and interests they can enjoy while at Strode.

There was a buzz of excitement in the air as the students looked around the 39 stands displayed by College clubs and services, outside agencies offering information and advice, and interest groups inviting students to get involved.

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College said: “This is an exciting time for our new students and we want them to get the most out of their time with us. With 800 A Level students we have more A Levels students than all the school sixth forms in Mendip and East Somerset put together, as well as 700 studying our vocational courses. Strode is going from strength to strength with year on year exceptional value-added performance and we know that we have a really positive impact on the lives of young people; students who should get As and A* do so, but students who should get Bs get As, and students who should get Cs get Bs. We encourage our students to work hard and to become independent and motivated learners, and we also encourage them to take part in other activities and to develop other interests. We provide a vibrant and varied mix of activities at Strode and our Fresher’s Fair is a great way to show our new students what’s out there for them.”

Strode students can choose from over 30 different sports activities, as well as choir, music, dance and theatre groups, cooking, creative writing, languages, debating, photography, employability skills and charity fundraising, including the College Gambia Project. 

College staff were on hand at the Fresher’s Fair to talk about the services available to students such as academic and personal support, transport, housing, finances, careers, higher education and counselling. A wide range of outside agencies also attended including the Samaritans, RAISE (Racial Awareness, Inclusion, Support & Education), Mind, Chlamydia Screening Service, Somerset Road Safety, Somerset Rural Youth Project, Terrace Higgins Trust, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the National Blood Service.

Tessa Munt was also on hand to answer any of the students’ questions regarding voting: “Strode’s Fresher’s Fair is a brilliant place to come and speak with young people. I talk to the students about their options when it comes to voting for the first time. I’m here to give information and to help with any queries such as how to register and where to go.”

Andrew Wilson, Health Promotion Manager (Sexual Health) at Somerset County Council said: “Strode’s Fresher’s Fair is one of the best in the county, in our opinion. It’s really interactive and the students are always happy to engage.”


Oliver Godwin (right)Oliver Godwin lives in Mark and previously attended Kings of Wessex Academy. He is studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music.

I came to Strode because of the facilities it offers - the music department is just amazing and the Sports Hall is very impressive too. My dreams for the future are here at the Fresher’s Fair – the navy or the police – it’s been really interesting speaking to them today. I plan to join up with the basketball team and the Gambia Project for my Enrichment activities.  

Emily Davis (left)Emily Davis lives in Bruton and was formerly a pupil at Sexey’s School. She is studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts:

Strode was the right choice for me as it offered more options. There’s so much enthusiasm here and lots of information. I didn’t realise how much choice there was for Enrichment activities – I’m going to join the choir and dancing groups, as they tie in nicely with my studies.




Bill BrandtBill Brandt lives in Hambridge and previously attended Huish Episcopi Academy. He has come to Strode to study A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry:

I decided to come to Strode because it has the best reputation and was the best choice for me. I’m really impressed by the Enrichment opportunities too, especially the range of sports available – I’m planning to sign up for badminton and hockey. 




Kathryn Jones

Kathryn Jones is from Evercreech and previously attended Whitstone Academy. She is studying A levels in Psychology, Law, Archaeology and Sociology:

I chose Strode because it’s a really good college and it has the most options; I also really enjoyed the College Experience Day. The staff are friendly and there is a lot of information, help and support here. I’m planning on signing up for Cooking on a Budget for my Enrichment activity. 


20/08/14 - Hairdressing Apprenticeships Available now in Salons across Somerset
Hairdressing Apprenticeships Available now in Salons across Somerset

Strode College is looking for school leavers to sign up for hairdressing apprenticeships at top salons in Somerset, starting this September.

If you fancy yourself as a budding Vidal Sassoon and are keen to get hands-on experience in the field, while earning a wage, then an apprenticeship in a high quality salon might be for you. Entry requirements include commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

Current vacancies include Sense in Coxley, Karen Christensen in Wells and Tranquillity in Street, with opportunities also available in other salons in the area including Street, Wells, Castle Cary and South Petherton.

Hairdressing apprentices can expect to spend one day a week at college and then four or five days in the salon, with the average apprenticeship lasting around eighteen months.

Angie Cinicola, Head of Hair and Beauty at Strode College said: ‘If you are interested in a career in hairdressing, but may not want to study full time, then one of our apprenticeships could be the route for you. As an apprentice you will learn on the job, acquiring hands-on work experience and a nationally recognised qualification. You will be doing a real job and being paid a wage while you are training.’

For more on hairdressing apprenticeship opportunities available at Strode College call: 01458 844405.

19/08/14 - Donít Panic if GCSE Results arenít as Good as you Hoped
Donít Panic if GCSE Results arenít as Good as you Hoped

You can Achieve Much More than you Might Expect at Strode College

GCSE results are announced this week (Thursday 21 August) and Strode College in Street is advising young people not to panic if they don’t get the results they want or if they are undecided about what to do next. 

There are still plenty of great opportunities available at Strode, whether it’s A levels, vocational courses or Apprenticeships, and the college has a fantastic track record for helping young people to achieve more than they might expect following their GCSE results.

James Staniforth, Principal of Strode College said:

“Some young people may be undecided about what to do next, particularly those who do not get the GCSEs they are hoping for. There will be others who may be unsure about continuing in education, as they may not have enjoyed their education so far. A fresh start at college or an apprenticeship could be the answer. 

“We have an outstanding track record for helping young people to progress after their GCSEs and for helping them to reach their full potential. The 2014 league tables show that our students progress more than those at other schools or colleges in Somerset; they achieve significantly higher grades than expected based on their GCSE results. And, in 2012, Ofsted judged that our outstanding teaching, support and guidance helps students to achieve their full potential and excellent results.

“With the widest choice of A levels alongside our excellent vocational courses and apprenticeships, we can help young people find the right course or mix of subjects to help them win places at university or get great jobs when they leave us. So, whether students have achieved ten GCSEs at grade A* or haven’t got any GCSEs, we will have the right course and we will help them to succeed.”

Find out more about the courses on offer at Strode.

Declan Bell-Evans, from Glastonbury and formerly at St Dunstan’s SchoolDeclan Bell-Evans

Declan gained three A Levels last week (14 August): Archaeology B, Biology B and Psychology B. He is about to start a gap year in Australia before studying Archaeology and Anthropology at Bristol University (a Russell Group university). Declan said:

“When I joined Strode College I was predicted D and E grades for my A Levels based on my GCSE results. I ended up with three grade Bs at A Level and a place at a Russell Group university, so I’m really happy. Strode really encouraged me to develop a good work ethic. From the start the teachers were aware of how I was doing and they motivated me to do well. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sports opportunities at Strode – I played hockey, rugby and football.”

Ben BuckleyBen Buckley, from Glastonbury and formerly home tutored

Ben came to Strode without the necessary qualifications to study a level 3 vocational course or A Levels, so instead he studied Level 2 IT Diploma over one year. He gained a Distinction Star (equivalent to four grade A* at GCSE) as well as GCSE Maths grade A and English Language grade C, which meant he could progress to the Level 3 IT Diploma. Once again, Ben achieved the top mark of Triple Distinction Star (equivalent to three grade A* at A Level) and he has just finished his first year at Kings College University, London (a Russell Group university), where he is studying Computer Science. Ben was Strode’s IT student of the year in 2014.

If you’re unsure about what to do next, if you would like some help and advice or want to visit Strode, call 01458 844400 or visit our School Leavers section.

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