Hereford College of Arts has been judged Outstanding by Ofsted in all seven categories: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, education programmes for young people, adult learning programmes and provision for learners with high needs. This follows a full and enhanced Ofsted inspection in October.

The report highlighted students’ “in-depth knowledge, understanding and creative skills often beyond their level of study”, and praised a highly-inclusive, supportive and individual culture that sets up learners of all levels to achieve success, and to develop their confidence and resilience.

The Outstanding rating is recognition of HCA’s position among the top providers of creative education in the UK – and also underlines the exceptional quality and choice of education available in Hereford.

Principal Abigail Appleton said, “I am thrilled the Ofsted inspectors recognised how inclusive the Hereford College of Arts’ community is as well as just how highly ambitious we are for student success in their next steps in education or employment, through a very rigorous inspection.

“I am immensely proud of the whole staff team, all our expert and passionate academic and professional services staff, but also of the students, governors, parents/guardians, colleagues in partner education institutions and the wider community of businesses, other organisations and individuals in Herefordshire and elsewhere who have helped the college achieve this ‘Outstanding’ judgement.”

The specialist arts college runs dedicated post-16 creative courses in four subject areas: Art, Design & Communication, Creative Media Production and Digital Technology, Music, and Performing Arts for post-GCSE students, and a one-year Foundation Diploma for students aged 18+.

Students learn in specialist workshops, studios and performance spaces, frequently working on ‘live’ projects that are informed by real-world industry experience, and are guided by “inspirational” teaching staff.

His Majesty’s Lead Inspector Helen Morgan noted: “College staff inspire learners to
aim high and succeed. As a result, a very high proportion of learner’s progress to
their next steps, often progressing to study at prestigious institutions.
“Learners develop the high-quality skills and knowledge that they need to become
successful artists. They benefit from highly skilled teachers, technicians and
industry practitioners sharing their knowledge and experience.
“Leaders have selected curriculums that allow learners to creatively and flexibly
develop the knowledge, skills and professional behaviours needed to work and
study in the creative industries.”

The college is very pleased that the inspectors recognised that “Learners with high needs and additional learning support needs achieve as highly as their peers.”

HCA also runs 13 creative degree courses from a second campus on College Road and the Ofsted result comes in what is already a landmark year for HCA, as this summer those courses achieved some of the strongest results in the UK in the independent National Student Survey (NSS). Although degree provision is not assessed by Ofsted, Vice Principal for Higher Education, Justin Gregory commented that many of the same areas that were identified as strengths in the NSS results, were singled out for praise in this Outstanding Ofsted report. One common theme was how the college has created a safe and supportive environment for students to thrive and to be themselves.

The Ofsted inspection saw, “Leaders, teachers and support staff create a highly inclusive culture in the college where bullying and harassment are not tolerated.”

Vice Principal for Further Education, Xaviere Hughes said that she was delighted to celebrate the inspection outcome with students and parents and especially pleased that the Ofsted report notes that, “Learners are encouraged to express their individuality both in their work and in their personalities. They develop their confidence and resilience by being challenged, encouraged and fully accepted by staff and by their peers.”

During the 4 day inspection, the 7 Ofsted inspectors were able to see that, “Learners benefit greatly from a broad range of high quality activities and events which enrich their taught curriculum… [and] are highly motivated and enthusiastic about their learning.

“Leaders have created a curriculum that consistently and extensively promotes the
personal development of learners. Learners are provided with many opportunities that go beyond the curriculum.”

Principal Abigail Appleton added: “At the heart of education is a collaboration between student and staff but it goes far beyond that and I am pleased the inspectors saw the range of opportunities we provide students through our external engagement and collaboration.

“Creative education is not only a gateway to an extraordinary range of careers within the creative industries but opens up a world of other opportunities; it develops core skills and competencies required in numerous employment sectors as we know them now and for the future, which will help students thrive in a volatile, changing world. We believe the world needs creative education more than ever.”

This academic year HCA is also celebrating 170 years of creative education in the city.

Principal Abigail Appleton said: “It is a particular joy to receive this Ofsted recognition in the academic year in which we are also celebrating 170 years of creative education in Hereford, since the opening of the first government supported School of Art and Design in the city in 1853, whilst at the same time preparing to launch an ambitious new strategy.

“This Outstanding report is a milestone for Hereford College of Arts, but we know ‘outstanding’ is a way of travelling and not a destination. Hereford College of Arts is on a journey of continuous improvement and development, committed to serving the needs and ambitions of every individual student but also to helping develop and serve the community of our city and region and the needs of a changing world.”

Applications are open for all courses at Hereford College of Arts. To find out more about post-GCSE, college courses you can book a place on upcoming Open Events on November 29, January 20 and March 6. To find out more about HCA’s Foundation Diploma, there are Open Events on December 7 and March 7. To find out more about HCA’s degree courses, you can book a place on the December 5, Dec 7 (new degrees) January 20 or February 13 Open events.

You can reserve a place on

Hereford College of Arts Ofsted Inspection Report