College slumps to ‘inadequate’ Ofsted after coming bottom in FE Week league table

The college that came out bottom in FE Week’s national college league table, unveiled just four days ago, has slumped from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ in a new Ofsted report.

Hereward College was only given a grade two rating last January – but it received the lowest possible overall rating in a report out today that was damning in its assessment of safeguarding arrangements.

Inspectors were also highly critical of outcomes for learners – a key measure for the FE Week league table published on November 17, which placed the Coventry-based provider bottom in the country.

The Ofsted report said: “Only one in 10 learners progress into paid employment when they leave the college. Too few apprentices achieve their learning goals.”

“Too few learners move on to employment when they leave,” inspectors warned. “Although the college offers courses at all levels from pre-entry to level three, the range of qualifications does not include areas with real potential for employment, such as hospitality and retail.”

The college had around 570 learners over the previous full contract year, and provides full-time learning programmes at pre-entry level to level thee for around 270 learners with high needs. Of these, 26 learners are in residential provision.

With regards to safeguarding, the report said: “The arrangements for safeguarding are ineffective; governors, leaders and managers have not ensured that the college meets its responsibilities.”

Sheila Fleming
Sheila Fleming

It added that self-assessment of the college’s performance is inaccurate, governors, leaders and managers had underestimated the significance of serious weaknesses in safeguarding learners, and failed to comply with the Prevent duty.

The report warned that since the previous inspection, there had been reported a number of alleged incidents of peer-on-peer abuse in the college’s day and residential provision.

It added: “One or more of the alleged incidents remains under investigation by another agency. Ofsted has no powers to investigate incidents of this kind.

“Actions taken by the provider’s leaders and managers in response to the allegations were considered alongside the other evidence available at the time of the inspection to inform inspectors’ judgements.”

“Managers’ partnership working with local authority staff to improve the safeguarding of learners is unacceptable,” it also said.

“Leaders and managers have not accepted the findings from the local authority’s investigations from the first alleged incident, and they have acted too slowly and with insufficient rigour to take remedial actions.”

FE Week spoke to the college chair Roger Cottam, a chartered accountant who has been as of August the deputy CEO at the new Tower Hamlets College and Hackney Community College Group , and he declined to comment on the report or the future of principal Sheila Fleming.

She joined Hereward in April 2011 from Warwickshire College, having been vice principal for quality and curriculum.

Roger Cottam
Roger Cottam

FE Week asked if she would like to comment on the new report, but was only given a statement from an anonymous spokesperson.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of the recent Ofsted inspection, but acknowledge the findings and are actively addressing the issues raised,” the spokesperson said.

“Since the inspection in October we have already worked in partnership with external agencies and specialists, provided specific training for staff and students, implemented a number of practical changes, and ensured additional resources across the college to support all aspects of safeguarding.

“Ofsted recognised the positive impact on teaching, learning and assessment of work which has taken place in recent months. Specifically, learners have developed good skills in English, maths and employability in vocational lessons across the curriculum.

“Hereward is a student-centred college and maintaining a safe and secure environment for the young people in our care is at the heart of what we do.”

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  1. Nice article. Soupçon of schadenfreude and a spurious justification for the woeful, pointless and vacuous FE week league table is the stuff of journalistic dreams. You can do better than this surely?

  2. So, getting on for half their learners were high needs, unclear how many very low level learners.
    10% into employment from those type of cohort – is that bad? Do Ofsted have data on how many learners from that type of cohort should progress to employment?
    The league table is based on the assumption that all colleges have the same learner demographic and types of provision.
    Great for headlines, but only ever the start of a story.
    Out of curiosity – why would a College graded 2 in January 2015 be re-inspected?