Second consecutive ‘inadequate’ Ofsted inspection for previously grade two college

A land-based college has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted for the second time in a row – one of just a handful of colleges to have achieved the dubious honour.

Inspectors visited Easton and Otley College in early October, in its first full inspection since it was first rated grade four in July last year.

The resulting report, published today, gives the college the lowest possible rating overall and in five out of eight headline fields.

Poor quality study programmes and adult education courses, with low completion rates on both, were the main issues dragging the college down.

“More than a quarter of students on study programmes and adult learning programmes, which together make up a large majority of the college’s provision, do not achieve their qualifications,” the report said.

The “same weaknesses remain” in teaching, learning and assessment of these programmes as were identified at last year’s inspection.

“Too many students on study programmes and adult learning provision do not make enough progress because they are often taught by inexperienced staff who lack the expertise necessary to promote effective learning,” the report said.

In addition, “too much” English and maths provision was “not good”.

And “too often, the lack of specialist teachers impedes learning on study programmes and adult learning programmes”.

“I cannot hide my disappointment at this assessment, but I am so very pleased to see that the report does at the same time highlight some areas in which substantial change has already been made,” said Jane Townsend, Easton and Otley College principal.

She said that the last 12 months had been “challenging”, and that the inspection had come “a little too soon to capture the improvements we have been making”.

At the time of inspection the college had 1,638 learners on study programmes, 344 adult learners and 441 apprentices.

Its apprenticeship provision was rated ‘good’, as was its provision for learners with high needs, while its leadership and management was graded ‘requires improvement’.

Following last year’s inspection, which rated it grade four overall and in six headline fields, the college had three monitoring visits.

The last of these, published in May, found the college to be making ‘significant progress’ in two themes and ‘reasonable progress’ in a further four.

Easton and Otley College, which was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2014, is one of a small number of colleges to have been rated ‘inadequate’ twice in a row.

The first of these was the now de-coupled Lewisham Southwark College, in 2015.

Mid-Cheshire College, now known as Warrington and Vale Royal College following its merger with Warrington Collegiate in August 2017, received two grade four ratings in a row in March 2016 and June 2017.

And Stockport College, which merged with Trafford College in April, received three ‘inadequate’ ratings in the space of five years – two of which were in October 2016 and January 2018.