A SIXTH form once deemed outstanding has been downgraded to “requires improvement” by school inspectors – leaving the borough without a good or outstanding state-funded college.

Holy Cross College was found to be in need of improvement in all but one area by Ofsted inspectors.

The report comes just weeks after Ofsted downgraded Bury College from outstanding to requires improvement. However, the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils was graded good.

David Frost, Principal, said: “Following the recent Ofsted inspection of Holy Cross College, we are pleased to see the many positive comments endorsing the long standing reputation the College. As an institution that continually strives to improve, we also welcome the ideas for further improvement, which are all already under way.”

School inspectors found that governors and senior leaders have not maintained high-quality provision and students at Holy Cross College did not make the progress they were capable of in a number of key subjects.

Ofsted reported: “Senior leaders have not identified the weaknesses in underperforming subjects accurately and have been too slow to implement effective improvement strategies. Governors have not recognised the significance of the decline in standards in some departments and therefore have not provided sufficient challenge to senior leaders.”

Inspectors added that teachers do not intervene “swiftly enough” when students fall behind in their work.

But they found that the vast majority of students pass their qualifications and go on to higher education, with the proportion who go to prestigious universities, conservatoires and specialist colleges being higher than that from similar colleges. And students were found to enjoy their learning and take pride in their work.

Mr Frost said: “We are particularly pleased that Ofsted recognised our strength as an excellent place to prepare for university. We are also delighted they praised our support for students, developing their confidence through our strong ethos and effective pastoral care. We were especially proud that our students themselves were praised, and our wide range of enrichment activities was commented on.

“Such a strong list of positives in the report sets the context for the areas that ‘require improvement’. In fact, we agree with Ofsted that there are some things that need improving and we are already addressing these.

“In particular Ofsted stressed that we need to improve our ‘progress’ — as measured statistically by the ‘value-added’ method that has recently been given much greater emphasis by the government — and to ensure greater consistency.

“We are fully committed to enhancing these areas this term, and even more in the coming academic year. At the same time, we celebrate the fact that we must be doing something right, with eight Oxbridge offers in 2017, 42 Oxbridge offers over the last 6 years while we are also are the sixth highest in the country and second in Greater Manchester among sixth form colleges for progression to university.

“As is well known in Bury and the area, the college has great expertise in its historic strengths, but as with any institution there always needs to be constant improvement and effort to ensure excellence consistently across every aspect of what we do.

“We believe that our experience of the new Ofsted can only help us to serve our new students and our community even better.”