London SEND college awarded top Ofsted marks

Great Oaks College branded as ‘very inclusive’ with staff that ‘go above and beyond’ their duties

Great Oaks College branded as ‘very inclusive’ with staff that ‘go above and beyond’ their duties


A London-based specialist college delivering vocational courses for high needs adults has been praised for its “highly inclusive and supportive” education in an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report.

The watchdog undertook its first full inspection of Great Oaks College in the London borough of Hounslow in April and awarded the college ‘outstanding’ across the board.

The college had 98 learners aged 19 to 25 at the time of the inspection, all of whom have high needs or education health and care plans (EHCPs), and had learners with moderate, severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), including some with autism spectrum disorder.

The relatively new college had shown positive signs from an early monitoring visit in 2021, which found it was making ‘significant progress’ after opening in 2018. The college is co-located on the same site as Oaklands School.

Inspectors said staff and learners have “very high levels of respect for each other”, and that staff understand learners’ needs “extremely well” and have a “clear and very effective vision” for learners to live as independently as they can.

The report found the majority of learners achieve their learning goals and continue onto positive destinations after college, such as supported living and employment.

It said that teachers “thoroughly” prepare learners for post-college life through careers support and interview skills training for those on a vocational pathway.

It also found that staff are highly trained to identify safeguarding concerns through frequent training.

“College staff go above and beyond their statutory legal duties to help learners,” inspectors said, regarding safeguarding.

The college additionally taught students “sensitively and appropriately” about sexual identity and sexuality and how learners can keep themselves safe in college, at work and in the community surrounding online safety and consent.

Elsewhere, Ofsted said teachers were given an extensive training and development programme including SEND-related topics such as how to support learners who have Autism, moving and handling learners and behaviour management.

College Principal Nickyie Thomas told FE Week that everyone is “thrilled” to receive the rating and the achievement was a testament to the college’s commitment to excellence.

“The inspectors acknowledged and praised the hard work and dedication of our staff, who provide a stimulating and engaging educational experience for our students,” she said.

She also praised staff for their “tenacious enthusiasm” and “consistently excellent” teaching.

“The teachers, therapists, medical team, and support staff work collaboratively to provide bespoke learning packages,” she added. “Their work enables students to develop their independence, communication and to ensure that they are fully prepared for their next destination, as they take their place within the community.”

Thomas also said she was “immensely proud” of the students. “They have shown they are resilient, positive, and ready to challenge barriers and misconceptions.”

“I am proud to be the Principal of Great Oaks College and will continue to strive to develop our outstanding practice alongside a highly skilled team and our inspirational students.”

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