Ex-learner guilty of rape at college criticised for safeguarding

Ex-learner guilty of rape at college criticised for safeguarding

A former student at a college that Ofsted identified as struggling from “endemic” sexualised behaviour has been found guilty of raping another pupil multiple times on the campus.

Hereward College said this week that it was “deeply saddened” and extended its sympathies to the victim, after a 23-year-old man was convicted of four counts of rape against another student in Coventry.

He was convicted at Warwick Crown Court on September 29, and sentencing has been adjourned while psychiatric and pre-sentence reports are prepared. Neither the defendant nor the victim are still students at the college.

The general FE college, which caters for day and residential learners with complex disabilities and learning difficulties, received a damning grade four-overall Ofsted report last November, which raised serious concerns about alleged sexual incidents and a lack of safeguarding.

“The college is deeply saddened by this case and extends sympathy to the former learner who suffered this abuse by the defendant,” said a spokesperson for the college.

“The safety and welfare of our learners, many of whom are vulnerable, is of paramount importance.

“We make our learners aware on enrolment of the members of our safeguarding team they can approach if they have any concerns or feel unsafe.

“They also receive lessons on personal, social and health education which includes topics on keeping themselves safe.”

He added that the college had introduced a number of changes to address issues raised through the ‘inadequate’ report.

“A new code of conduct for learners makes clear the college’s expectations, including those related to sexual behaviours on the college site,” he added.

“A new principal joined the college in August with significant experience of special needs provision in FE and is addressing all leadership and management issues highlighted by Ofsted.”

The report condemned the governors, leaders and managers for refusing to accept the findings of an investigation by the local authority into an alleged incident.

“There have been a number of alleged incidents of peer-on-peer abuse in the college’s day and residential provision. One or more of the alleged incidents remains under investigation by another agency,” it said.

“Leaders and managers have failed in their duty to ensure that statutory requirements are met in relation to safeguarding and therefore learners are not safe.”

Reports from two monitoring visits have been published since the inspection. One published in January noted that Hereward had appointed a new safeguarding manager and begun to strengthen its relationship with the local authority.

However, it warned: “A worryingly high proportion of the incidents involve sexualised behaviour, and in some cases sexual assaults by one learner on another. Female learners and learners looked after are more often victims than learners from other groups.”

It did note some progressing, pointing out that “leaders and managers now have a greater awareness that these incidents are occurring”.

After the second monitoring visit, published in May, Ofsted noted that governors were in the process of recruiting a new principal and had already appointed a vice-principal with a responsibility for safeguarding and a safeguarding manager, as well as forming safeguarding team with five members of staff.

It described “significant improvements” to processes at the college since the previous visit, and acknowledged “much improved” relationships with external agencies.

But it warned there was “still much to do before these positive changes have the desired impact on the extent to which learners feel safe and are safe”.