Northamptonshire college rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted as report raises concerns over pupil safety
A Northamptonshire college has been rated 'inadequate' after its most recent visit from Ofsted inspectors, who identified serious breaches to health and safety regulations, including a number of "unsafe and sloppy" instances.
The report into Moulton College found that teaching was not good enough, with students who achieve GCSE English grades A* to C, or make good progress towards this, being low.
According to Ofsted, teachers’ expectations of students are too low and, consequently, many pupils engage in low-level misbehaviour both in and out of lessons.
Perhaps of greater concern, however, were the points raised on safeguarding, which was deemed to be "not effective".
The report states: "Senior managers do not manage health and safety practices across the college effectively.
"The curriculum includes a number of highly dangerous vocational areas, and learners are not safe. Inspectors identified a number of serious breaches to health and safety regulations and a number of instances where practice was unsafe or sloppy.
"Not all managers with responsibility for health and safety have undertaken appropriate training."
Moulton College - which provides apprenticeship, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities to around 5,000 students - was previously ranked as 'requires improvement' in a 2016 inspection.
“We are naturally extremely disappointed by the results of the inspection," said Principal Stephen M Davies.
“Ofsted raised a number of health and safety concerns that had a significant impact on the college’s grading.
“We would want to take this opportunity to stress that the college remains a safe place to work and study; we have a strong safety record when compared to other colleges specialising in agricultural and horticultural provision, and students themselves told Ofsted that they feel safe studying here.
“However, we accept Ofsted’s inspection findings and have taken rapid and decisive action to address their concerns.”
In order for the Moulton College to improve, Ofsted has suggested the college immediately takes action to ensure all pupils are safe during all activities on site.
It should provide every member of staff with a refresher safety briefing, ensure risk assessments are in place, and address the specific issues raised by Ofsted, which relate to equipment, signs, first aid supplies, hand washing and safety procedures.
The college says it will commission audits of both health and safety, and safeguarding practices, "which will be used to inform work going forward in these areas".
Health and safety managers are to receive new training and the college will change its central record of staff to ensure all the required information is present for all staff. Currently, the college does not hold records of the professional qualifications of staff recruited more than two years ago, despite this being a statutory requirement for over a decade.
The report goes on to suggest the college should improve the skills of its additional learning support staff and the quality of vocational tutors' planning with them in order to provide "more effective support" to pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities.
College governors should also be provided with training and support to help them to be more challenging towards senior leaders, and hold them to account more effectively.
The chair of governors Robin Thompson said: “We are pleased that Ofsted noted our strengths in a range of areas, in particular employability and work-related training, our commercial links with employers, what they described as our excellent range of specialist facilities and teacher expertise.
"We have a proud history of serving this community and region – and the agricultural and horticultural sectors across the UK - for almost a century and during that time we have prided ourselves as much on our pastoral care as our educational impact.”
Mr Davies added: “We know we have a lot of work to do. While the report does not reflect the progress that has been made in recent years in terms of teaching quality, we must accept that Ofsted did not see enough good teaching and that more work must be done to embed improvements in this area.
“Our fantastic staff are dedicated and diligent and our students work hard to progress in their studies or into their chosen careers and it is regrettable that the report does not reflect that.”
With regards to the college's strengths, Ofsted found that apprentices develop good practical skills in the workplace, and that the large majority of students benefit from good-quality work-related learning in the college's commercial environments, and useful work experience.
It also found that leaders, managers and governors had used their commercial links to develop a curriculum that provides good opportunities for students to increase their employability, and that teachers use their considerable experience and the college’s good resources to help students understand how they will use the skills they learn in their future jobs.
The Ofsted report can be read here.