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College faces third ‘inadequate’ rating if improvements aren’t made, report warns

PUBLISHED: 08:35 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:35 08 February 2019

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

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

Archant

A specialist Norfolk college faces being judged “inadequate” for a third time if urgent improvements aren’t made, an education watchdog has warned.

Easton and Otley College  principal Jane Townsend, and chair of governors Mark Pendlington  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEaston and Otley College principal Jane Townsend, and chair of governors Mark Pendlington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The further education commissioner (FEC) intervention at Easton and Otley College – its second in 18 months – was triggered by its second “inadequate” Ofsted rating in November 2018.

The intervention report said “swift action” was needed to improve attendance, tracking of student progress and the quality of teaching.

It said: “The college have been unable to reference any tangible improvements to the quality of the student experience and performance.

“Whilst major quality improvement strategies have been developed by the deputy principal and other senior curriculum leaders, the college has been distracted from moving forward.”

It added: “Governors need to relentlessly focus on rapidly improving the learner experience including teaching, learning and assessment and monitoring of student progress and achievements in order to avoid a third consecutive inadequate judgement by Ofsted.”

The college has around 5,000 students and almost 550 staff across its two campuses.

The FEC first reviewed the college in September 2017. Following this report, minister of state for apprenticeships and skills Anne Milton said the appointment of a “strong permanent principal” was of “critical importance” to the college. Jane Townsend was subsequently appointed in March 2018.

In June 2018 the college was issued with a notice to improve by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which prevented it from recruiting some learners and entering new subcontracting arrangements.

In response to the FEC report a full structural review will take place at Easton and Otley College, looking at options to secure its future and that of the specialist agricultural and land-based courses it offers.

Ms Townsend said the college management and its board were “wholly committed to achieving a positive outcome”.

“The support from our students, parents and staff, together with the wider business community, has been nothing short of exceptional, and we are all working together to secure the college’s long-term future for the benefit of current and future students,” she said.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of Easton and Otley College, said: “We are putting every effort into making Easton and Otley a regional and national champion for teaching, and for inspiring those who will serve the employers and fast-developing new technologies on which the future of the food, drink and agriculture sector depends,”

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