Ofsted to ask FE learners if they feel safe in residential provision

Ofsted is asking young people in residential provision at FE colleges if they feel safe and able to raise concerns.

The inspectorate is kicking off its annual drive to obtain their views using “point-in-time” questionnaires, which will also be sent to boarding and residential special schools.

“Ofsted inspectors want to hear what children and young people, their parents and carers, and staff have to say about the boarding or residential provision of these schools and further education colleges,” a spokesperson announced today.

Ofsted has an important role in monitoring residential provision at colleges.

The watchdog has been highly critical, for example, of Hereward College, which offered on-site residential provision for 23 learners – as well as day provision for 255 more students – at the time of its last full inspection 11 months ago.

The college was rated inadequate-overall following this.

“Since the previous inspection, there have been reported a number of alleged incidents of peer-on-peer abuse in the college’s day and residential provision,” the main report warned. “One or more of the alleged incidents remains under investigation by another agency.”

The shocking scale of the problem was explained in more detail in a subsequent monitoring visit report, which described a “worryingly high proportion” of safeguarding incidents had “involved sexualised behaviour” or “in some cases sexual assaults by one learner on another”.

Another monitoring visit in April this year found “reasonable progress” had been made in resolving these issues for “all learning and residential settings”.

Responses to the new questionnaires are requested by October 12.

Questions include:

  • Do staff look after you well?
  • Do you feel safe inside your school or college accommodation?
  • Can you talk to staff about what you think?

“Schools and colleges should provide children and young people, their parents and carers, and staff with a link to the questionnaire,” Ofsted’s spokesperson added.

Alternatively, anyone who wants to express their views can call the inspectorate on 0300 123 1231 (select option five, then option two) or email enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk.

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