A college for disadvantaged adults has returned to a ‘good’ Ofsted rating just a year after it was downgraded to ‘inadequate’.
Ruskin College was last year accused of safeguarding failures after inspectors claimed leaders were unaware of the “significant personal challenges that some vulnerable adults faced while in their care” and were “unable to help staff keep these learners safe”.
But since then, leaders have “monitored improvements to ensure that safeguarding is effective and ensure that learners’ well-being is also supported effectively”, a follow-up full inspection report for the college published today said.
Inspectors found that staff are provided with “essential training” in safeguarding and found that learners feel safe at college and “know how to protect themselves from radicalisation and extremist views”.
Learners “appreciate the welcoming and supportive environment that staff create”.
The college, which was teaching 326 adults at the time of the latest inspection in November, is now deemed ‘good’ in every category judged by Ofsted.
The result is the latest improvement success for Oxford-based Ruskin College, founded in 1899, which designs its courses for local residents furthest from the labour market, those who are socially isolated and those seeking a second chance at education.
Ruskin had its financial notice to improve lifted by the government in March 2023 almost 10 years after the notice was first served.
The college’s former principal was fired in 2021 following a significant funding clawback, and the college was forced into a last-minute merger with the University of West London (UWL) later that year.
Last year FE Commissioner Shelagh Legrave praised “important progress” in improving the college’s financial performance after years of decline and contraction – mainly caused by falling student numbers.
While “challenges remain to grow FE provision to make best use of the funding available for the benefit of students and to secure sustainability”, there is now a “clear educational vision for the college”, Legrave’s report said.
Today’s Ofsted report said most learners “value the inclusive culture that staff create” and all students “develop new knowledge and skills that are essential to their personal and professional lives”.
Staff were praised for being “highly qualified, experienced and passionate about their subjects”, while leaders and trustees are “increasingly well informed about the quality of provision, which enables them to evaluate and drive improvement”.
A UWL spokesperson said: “UWL is delighted with the continuing and considerable progress since UWL acquired Ruskin College to secure its future in 2021. We are committed to ensuring the highest standards in all aspects of the college’s performance, and we are very pleased to have had this recognised by Ofsted and the FE Commissioner alike.”