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Sector summary

Further education


Teaching and learning

What's going well

  • Most colleges gear the development of practical skills on vocational programmes to match industry needs.
  • Many colleges have retained a few aspects of carefully targeted remote and online delivery.
  • Many colleges are developing and improving embedded approaches to digital learning.
  • Most colleges have resumed educational trips and visits broadly in line with pre-pandemic levels.
  • A few colleges have developed well-targeted approaches to work-experience.

What needs to improve

  • Overall, learners’ numeracy skills are less well developed than similar cohorts prior to the pandemic.
  • There is insufficient provision of learning activities focusing on healthy relationships and preventing misogynistic attitudes.

Care, support and guidance and well-being

What's going well

  • Most learners are enthusiastic and motivated about their courses.
  • Most learners are aware of a wide range of support for their mental health and emotional well-being.
  • Colleges have well-established learner disciplinary policies and processes and most deal effectively with reported serious incidents of sexual harassment.
  • A few colleges are developing emerging trauma informed practices.

What needs to improve

  • Not all learners feel safe and comfortable across all aspects of their learning experiences.
  • Peer-on-peer sexual harassment is widely underreported.
  • Learners do not have equitable access to educational trips and visits.

Leading and improving

What's going well

  • Colleges share and collaborate well with each other across a range of key issues and initiatives.
  • Colleges have updated their quality assurance arrangements to include observation of online and digital learning sessions.
  • Most colleges use digital support teams or individuals to develop resources and to support staff delivering online and digital learning activities.
  • Overall, colleges have reviewed and appropriately revised their policies and procedures for educational trips and visits to address previous Estyn thematic report recommendations.

What needs to improve

  • Colleges do not always monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of their improvement planning actions well enough.
  • Many college staff lack confidence and feel they need more development and updating in relation to addressing peer-on-peer sexual harassment.
  • Colleges do not record and evaluate peer-on-peer sexual harassment incidents systematically enough.
  • Most colleges do not gather formal feedback from learners in relation to educational trips and visits.

Overview of recommendations


One further education college was inspected during 2022-2023.

  • The report on the Coleg Cambria inspection included recommendations on improvement planning, helping learners achieve their potential and addressing literacy and numeracy skill gaps.
  • Our thematic review also made a series of recommendations in relation to work to identify and address issues of peer-on-peer sexual harassment among 16 to 18-year-old learners. These included providing learning activities on healthy relationships, preventing misogynistic attitudes and cultures, additional professional learning for staff, and ensuring that all learners feel safe and comfortable across all aspects of their college experience. Other recommendations focused on improving recording and evaluation arrangements and providing clearer guidance across the sector.

Reflective questions

Questions to help guide providers’ improvement planning processes:

  • How clear are the aims and objectives of any plans relating to key improvement initiatives?
  • To what degree do project plans set specific objectives that have appropriate impact measures, with clear timescales and named leads?
  • How effectively does the provider allocate resources, including staff members’ time, to ensure the success of its improvement work?
  • How effectively do leaders monitor progress against their improvement plans and use this information to identify actions that need further attention?
  • How effectively do overall evaluations identify the key lessons learnt when projects are completed?
  • How are lessons learnt used to benefit the planning of future projects or initiatives?
  • How well does the provider draw on a wide range of evidence to inform its evaluation and improvement work?
  • To what degree does the full range of stakeholders contribute to evaluating the impact of key improvement initiatives?

Effective practice

To read about individual providers that are working effectively in specific aspects of their work, visit our effective practice summary page for 2022-2023