College that crashed two grades from ‘outstanding’ to cut 41 jobs

A college that fell two Ofsted grades from ‘outstanding’ last year has put 155 jobs at risk of redundancy and is planning to cut 41 of them.

Blackburn College, which went 10 years without being inspected following a grade one in 2007, is consulting on the job losses after finding itself “under increasing financial pressure to operate in a more efficient manner”.

“We will do all we can to prevent any compulsory redundancies and as part of the consultation process will be introducing a voluntary severance scheme, available to staff affected,” said interim principal Graham Towse.

“The college is committed to working collaboratively and constructively with trade union representatives and staff to build a more sustainable future, whilst dealing with these immediate challenges.

“We are confident that with the right measures we will create a sustainable platform for the future to focus on improving our quality and standards.”

The consultation was launched yesterday (November 26) and will run until January 10, 2019.

Around 3 per cent of Blackburn College’s full-time equivalent staffing levels are expected to be cut, Mr Towse said.

The UCU said the proposed job losses would be a “disaster for staff and students”.

“At a time when staff and students should be focused on teaching and learning, the college is again looking to squeeze its overworked teaching staff to cover up a lack of leadership from a changing management team,” said UCU regional official Martyn Moss.

“Blackburn College needs to recognise that staff are already at breaking point. Further cuts would be a disaster for staff and students, and only serve to increase already unmanageable workloads. UCU will oppose compulsory redundancies and calls on the college to urgently rethink these damaging plans.”

Blackburn College dropped to ‘requires improvement’ in an Ofsted report published in May 2017.

At the time, leaders and managers at the college were found to not have “a sufficient oversight of the progress that students make on their courses” and “too few” students achieve the grades and “develop the skills to their full potential”.

Senior leaders have also “failed to evaluate accurately” the quality of the provision through the colleges annual self-assessment process.

The report added that managers are “overly positive” about the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and “insufficient attention” is given to how the quality of course delivery is having an impact on students’ progress.