‘Overstretched leaders’ fail to improve teaching at ‘inadequate’ specialist college

The Michael Tippett College has been rated insufficient due to quality of teaching, leadership and the curriculum

The Michael Tippett College has been rated insufficient due to quality of teaching, leadership and the curriculum

An ‘inadequate’ specialist college has been criticised again by inspectors for “overstretched leaders” failing to improve its teaching and curriculum.

Trustees of the London-based The Michael Tippett College were found not to have been given “secure” assessments of the quality of teaching and leaders lack enough expertise in SEND education to improve, according to a monitoring visit published today.

The college made “insufficient progress” in three of the four areas examined by Ofsted eight months after a damning full inspection found that safeguarding, education, personal development and leadership and management were all ‘inadequate’.

Perry Vlachos, the acting head of Michael Tippett College, has been the sixth college leader in seven years.

Vlachos explained that if the college fails to make improvements by the next Ofsted inspection, expected in early 2023, this could trigger a review of funding arrangements by the ESFA.

Today’s monitoring visit did find ‘reasonable progress’ on improvements to safeguarding after the previous inspection found that students were being tube fed and medicated in classrooms in front of their peers and staff.

Policies have been rewritten to be “fit for purpose” and leaders have taken “appropriate action to rectify the specific issue noted at the previous inspection regarding learners’ dignity when using feeding tubes” the monitoring visit report states.

The education watchdog praised staff, who treat learners with respect and have created a “calm and orderly environment”.

The college are currently receiving support from a college with an outstanding SEND provision, who are providing the leadership team with “expertise and experience to better personalise the curriculum to make it more fit for purpose for the students” he told FE Week.

Vlachos said they have not been able to recruit specialist SEND teachers or leaders because of uncertainty about the future of the college.

He says they have attempted to address the problems raised by Ofsted, who in turn have offered useful guidance on where the college has gone wrong.

Ofsted said that the trustees, leadership team and staff have worked “diligently to make improvements, but they are overstretched and continue to have insufficient expertise in the education of learners with SEND” to have an impact or bring about “rapid and sustained improvement.”

The report says the college has been unsuccessful in recruiting additional SEND expertise to their board, or any additional leadership capacity at all since the last inspection.

Inspectors said that the amount of time spent on improving safeguarding led to “limited” efforts to improve teaching. For example they found that “targets that teachers use are the same for all learners, regardless of their ability and prior knowledge and attainment”.

Teachers are not “adequately appraised” by leaders and do not properly integrate life skills into vocational subjects.

And inspectors found no comprehensive plan for the curriculum, noting that teachers “only plan one term at a time.”

The Michael Tippett College is an independent specialist college in Balham, south London, with 42 learners aged 19 to 25, which has struggled to achieve a good inspection since they opened in 2016.

At the time of the last inspection, Lambeth Council told FE Week that it was reviewing its relationship with the college, noting Ofsted’s “concerning findings.”

Lambeth Council have been approached for comment.

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