Ambitions are ‘big but realistic’ college says, after Ofsted report highlights work yet to do

Jane Townsend, the principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jane Townsend, the principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

A college branded inadequate last year has taken steps forward, inspectors say - but much more work is needed.

Easton and Otley College was told it was inadequate by watchdog Ofsted last July, with a follow-up visit from the body in December noting improvements.

Now, a second follow-up visit, at the start of March, has painted another mixed picture - while progress has been made in some areas, including monitoring of learners' progress and training for apprentices, Ofsted said insufficient progress had been made in others, including safeguarding, quality of teaching and behaviour and attendance.

Changes have been made at the college, with Jane Townsend becoming principal and implementing a turnaround plan centring on staff training.

In the latest report, inspectors noted that English and maths teaching had improved, and said staff had 'redoubled' their efforts to improve attendance.

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'They carry out well-publicised promotions to drive up attendance,' they said. 'They have increased the array of incentives to reward learners with high attendance.'

Looking at safeguarding, inspectors criticised teachers' and learners' use of 'potentially hazardous resources and materials', which they said was not recorded and monitored rigorously.

They shared concerns over implementation of safety procedures, and said, while 'there is no indication that learners are at immediate risk of harm', the college does not 'follow the best practices in rigorously implementing safety procedures'.

Though they praised improvements in teaching assessments, they said the 'observation process still lacks rigour because too many observers are insufficiently evaluative in their recordings'.

Deputy principal Ray Goodman said the college was 'very encouraged' by parts of the report.

'This latest visit has reinforced what we know in terms of the excellent progress that we are making and strengthened our resolve to improve all areas of our provision, so that we can help the college continue to make great strides towards becoming a shining educational light for the land-based sector, in which the region, and the country, can be proud,' he said.

MORE: Turnaround plan is working, says college principal Jane Townsend

Chair of governors Mark Pendlington said: 'We are on track for recovery and growth. This latest report highlights where we are making great progress, and reminds us that we have a lot of work still to do. We are very confident in the plan we have in place and in our ability to meet the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.

'That confidence has been boosted by the appointment of Jane Townsend as principal, who is leading a refreshed and highly capable senior team.

'We have got a grip of our finances and are focussed totally on providing an exceptional range of courses to attract talented students. It's what we do best.

'Our ambitions are big but realistic, and this new focus and these crucial strategic decisions are all helping to strengthen our position as we move to become the first choice land-based college for students and businesses in this region and beyond.'

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