Vow that college will work ‘smarter and harder’ to improve after mixed watchdog report

Easton and Otley College. Photo : Steve Adams

Easton and Otley College. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

The acting principal of a land-based college which was branded inadequate last year has vowed to work 'smarter and harder' - after a watchdog said concerns remained.

Last July, Easton and Otley College, which has almost 4,000 students across its two campuses, was told it was inadequate by Ofsted, a fall from its previous good rating.

And in a follow-up visit from December, inspectors said steps had been taken towards improvement - including a rise in attendance - but that work was needed in several areas.

They said progress around safeguarding was positive, with induction courses rolled out and the issue made a fixed item at governors meetings. Learners told inspectors they 'feel safe and are safe'.

But they said 'around a quarter of learners' did not demonstrate enough understanding 'of the danger of radicalisation and extremism'.

Jane Townsend, acting principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: Easton and Otley College

Jane Townsend, acting principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: Easton and Otley College - Credit: Archant

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And on teaching, a concern in the previous report, inspectors said: 'When teaching is good, teachers use their high levels of industry specific knowledge and expertise to challenge learners to excel.'

Mark Pendlington. Picture: Nick Butcher

Mark Pendlington. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

But they said too much 'lacks appropriate challenge to galvanise learners'.

The watchdog said a self-assessment report compiled by the college was 'highly self-critical', but comparison of performance against that nationally, and of similar colleges, was 'inaccurate'.

Jane Townsend, acting principal, said the team would work 'smarter and harder' to return to a good rating.

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'Clearly the recent feedback we received shows we need to get better in certain areas and we appreciate this feedback as it helps galvanise us and allows us to focus on the issues that require improvement,' she said. 'We recognise we are on a journey of improvement and the report reflects this.'

She said the report - and a recent employer survey which rated Easton and Otley as the best further education facility in the region to work with - had been encouraging.

Mark Pendlington, who became chair of governors in August, added: 'We are all determined to drive progress, to achieve big improvements and to deliver on expectations. Everyone is dedicated to the task and I would like to thank our staff, students, governors and the wider community for their wonderful support.'

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