An East Lancashire college is celebrating after an Ofsted inspection deemed them to have made Significant Progress since they merged with another institution.

Accrington and Rossendale College, who merged with Nelson and Colne College last year, achieved the highest possible grade for raising the standards of learners’ and apprentices’ education, under the new Nelson and Colne College Group.

During a monitoring visit in October, Ofsted graded three key areas of provision - apprenticeships GCSE English, and GCSE Maths - as having made Significant Progress within a year of the colleges becoming a merged institution.

Prior to the merger, the college had been rated as Good, with Nelson and Colne College rated as Outstanding by Ofsted since 2005.

Principal, Amanda Melton said: "I’m delighted we have managed to achieve significant progress in the three of four key areas of inspection.

"This is a remarkable achievement in the short space of time since the merger.

"As a combined institution, we are a maths and English college, as these are the two qualifications students require to progress and improve life chances.

"To have our curriculum acknowledged and endorsed in this way is extremely satisfying.

"Equally, apprenticeships are an important aspect of the college offer, providing a pipeline of young skilled talent for employers and the economy locally, regionally and beyond.

"Again, to have our provision positively recognised by Ofsted is very encouraging."

Ofsted praised the colleges’ commitment to improving standards in apprenticeships and GCSE English and Mathematics, as well as deeming the institution to have made Reasonable Progress in making sure that apprentices have an appropriate understanding of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism.

Referring to apprenticeships, the report said: "Leaders and managers have worked hard since the merger of the two colleges to improve the standard of training that apprentices receive.

"Managers and staff use their local intelligence about the health sector to develop and put in place very effective learning programmes.

"They use innovative ways to develop and plan the curriculum."

The colleges are among the first in the country to be inspected under Ofsted’s new stringent and rigorous Education Inspection Framework.

A full inspection will take place in due course.

Ms Melton added: "We still have work to go, and I am confident that we will continue to progress over the months ahead."