SEND college censured for safety concerns and ‘inappropriate’ teaching

A residential college for vulnerable young adults has been reprimanded by Ofsted for not protecting learners and staff from “harm” and teaching “not age appropriate” activities, such as The Three Little Pigs.

Cambian Dilston College dropped from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ in a report published this week by the watchdog.

The college is situated on a nine-acre site in rural Northumberland and was teaching 18 young people at the time of inspection.

Inspectors found serious safeguarding concerns, including unsecure access points to the main building, and firewalls that do not protect learners from “inappropriate material relating to radicalisation or extremism”.

Too many staff are also “regularly injured as a result of learners’ behaviour”.

And staff working in practical learning environments do not securely store hazardous material, such as cleaning fluids.

Meanwhile, learning environments are “not routinely calm and orderly”, with learners often leaving their lessons for extended periods of time, distracting others.

Learners also do not receive a “rich or inclusive” curriculum that meets their individual needs and prepares them for adulthood.

For example, learners with the most complex needs do not participate in the same learning that their more able peers receive.

Ofsted also pulled the college up for teaching learners to read The Three Little Pigs during ‘story time’ and sang Nellie the Elephant and Old MacDonald in music therapy sessions. “The use of children’s nursery rhymes is not helpful in developing the character of young adults,” inspectors said.

“Resources also include picture cards that are not suitable for adult learners. These resources use cartoon imagery rather than depicting real-life situations that would be more beneficial to older learners.”

However, most learners “say that they enjoy attending the college” and staff “deal with any issues that learners raise quickly and appropriately”.

A Cambian Dilston College spokesperson said: “We are very disappointed by the outcome of this inspection. We have already addressed a number of the identified concerns raised by Ofsted and will continue to work very closely with then to address those that remain.

“We are pleased that Ofsted recognised the positive ethos that has always existed at the college and the leadership of the new head teacher, who has prioritised safeguarding since taking up post in June this year.

“Work has been in progress since September to raise expectations for all students to reach higher levels of attainment in all areas of their learning and development. The safeguarding matters raised in the report have all been addressed.”

Cambian is the second specialist college that Ofsted has raised serious safeguarding concerns within the past month.



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