Safety concerns raised at two independent specialist colleges

Leaders didn't follow safety rules when recruiting staff to work with vulnerable learners

Leaders didn't follow safety rules when recruiting staff to work with vulnerable learners

23 Jan 2022, 7:00

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Safety concerns have been raised at two independent specialist colleges for students with special educational needs, with inspectors at one finding that staff were recruited without knowing if they are suitable to work with vulnerable learners.

Following a monitoring visit at The Michael Tippett College in November 2021, Ofsted found that senior leaders and trustees did not have effective safeguarding arrangements in place.

The college caters for young adults aged 19 to 25 who have a range of profound multiple learning difficulties or severe learning difficulties. At the time of Ofsted’s visit the institution had 40 students.

“Leaders do not follow safe recruitment processes properly in order to ensure that staff are suitable to work with vulnerable learners,” inspectors said.

“Too often, staff do not complete the background checks thoroughly or follow up on employer references.”

The report also found that senior leaders, including some of the trustees, were not suitably trained to fulfil their duties in relation to safeguarding and Prevent.

“Consequently, senior leaders and trustees do not manage safeguarding concerns effectively. Leaders do not regularly review and update safeguarding policies and procedures,” inspectors said.

Ofsted said that the college’s safeguarding policy contained inaccurate information on designated safeguarding leads contacts and did not provide any guidance for staff on managing concerns of learners with the most complex needs.

“Consequently, the safeguarding policy is not fit for purpose,” the report concluded. Ofsted also raised safety concerns about Rotherham Opportunities College in South Yorkshire.

Inspectors said that leaders at the independent specialist college failed to ensure students knew about the risks of radicalisation and extremism, following a monitoring visit carried out in November 2021.

The college provides programmes to students with high needs who are between the age of 19 and 25. At the time of the visit, there were 37 students on a variety of courses.

“Leaders do not ensure that students know about the risks of radicalisation and extremism,” inspectors said.

“They do not teach students about these dangers, even though they are aware that their students are vulnerable and potentially at risk.”

Neither Rotherham Opportunities College nor The Michael Tippett College responded to requests for comment.

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