ONE of Hampshire’s top sixth-form colleges has lodged an appeal after being branded “inadequate” by inspectors.

Award-winning Totton College is reeling from a highly critical report published by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), which inspected the site in September.

Three years ago the college was rated “good with outstanding features”.

Bosses have recently unveiled plans to spend about £3m on refurbishing existing buildings, adding new facilities and creating an all-weather sports pitch.

Full report

You can read the full report on Totton College on the Ofsted website.

In the summer, students celebrated achieving a 98 per cent A* to E pass rate in A levels, up on last year, while the proportion gaining high grades leapt up by five percentage points to 68 per cent.

But Ofsted’s latest report contains a catalogue of criticisms, including inconsistent teaching, under-achievement by students and what it describes as below-standard leadership.

The report adds: “Over the last two years, too many students have failed to achieve as well as they should.

“Leaders and managers did not anticipate the college would fail to meet key performance targets in 2010 and 2011.

They have been slow to identify and tackle significant pockets of under-performance, with much of their time and energy devoted to reacting to problems rather than proactively planning for improvement.”

The report says department heads “struggle to balance considerable management responsibilities with their own teaching load”.

Mike Gaston, the college’s new principal, accepted some of the criticisms and added: “We need to ensure a balanced workload for those who are both managers and teachers.”

But he rejected the term“inadequate”

and confirmed that the college had lodged an appeal.

He said: “It’s the same college as it was in 2008 – the only difference is that numbers have increased substantially.

“We’ve won many national awards for teaching and we’re in a very strong financial position.

“I agree with some of Ofsted’s findings but not the overall rating.

I don’t believe the college is inadequate in any shape or form. It serves the needs of its students and – according to Ofsted – none of the teaching is less than good or satisfactory.

That, to me, is not the definition of an inadequate college.”

The report has also come under fire from former principal Mark Bramwell, who retired in August after 17 years at the helm. He said: “Totton is a high-performing college that has consistently been given a string of awards for its teaching, management and support of students.

“I don’t know what happened during the inspection week because Ofsted have got this completely wrong.

“A level results dipped in 2009 and 2010 from the previous high standards but recovered this year – something that Ofsted didn’t fully recognise.”