SEND college judged ‘inadequate’ over safety concerns

Staffing issues and gaps in SEND experience highlighted by watchdog

Staffing issues and gaps in SEND experience highlighted by watchdog

ofsted

Safety fears have been raised at a SEND college after Ofsted found staff didn’t have enough medical training and students were exposed to potential harm from a shared building entrance with the public.

The education watchdog said that “learners do not work in a safe enough environment” at Elfrida Rathbone Camden (Leighton College), following a visit in June. It gave the college an ‘inadequate’ rating in a report published today.

The college caters for 16- to 25-year-olds with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) such as epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders, with most students on two year programmes for entry level life, employability, English, maths and independent living skills. It had 17 learners at the time of the inspection.

The college is located in the same building as a nursery with a shared public entrance, which Ofsted said exposed “the risk of possible harm that could occur to learners when members of the public access the shared building where learners attend college”.

Ofsted inspectors said that while learners said they felt safe at the college, “leaders and managers do not ensure that all staff who work with learners are suitable for their roles because they do not complete the necessary safe recruitment pre-employment checks on volunteers”.

In addition, the report said: “Leaders do not ensure that staff are suitably trained to administer emergency medication to learners with medical conditions, such as epilepsy.”

Ofsted said there were “significant” staffing issues with gaps in SEND expertise among employees, with some taking on new roles without enough training and guidance. It added that leaders did not ensure staff were experienced or qualified to teach SEND students.

The report said learners with therapeutic needs like speech and language therapy do not make good progress because they do not have access to “the full range of specialist therapy staff”.

On the curriculum, inspectors found it was “inadequately planned to meet individual learners’ needs” – including those specified in their education health and care plans – and they subsequently didn’t make enough progress to develop skills and knowledge needed to live independently.

A spokesperson from the college said it was “very disappointed” to be graded ‘inadequate’ but added: “We have an action plan in place and we have already acted on many of the recommendations.”

The college said it was pleased to be recognised by Ofsted for the respect its staff showed learners and the life skills students learned.

But it said new chief executive Nicole Francis, who started the week after the inspection was carried out, has outlined a series of measures for improvement.

Those include more effective measures to demonstrate how learners are assessed and their progress monitored, an overall review of the offer for students to ensure it meets their needs, and more training and support for staff in SEND.

More trustees with further education SEND expertise are set to be recruited, an external advisory group with SEND expertise formed and all staff will have completed training in administering medication by September 7.

The college says the landlord for its building will also have the communal front door secured by the beginning of term to prevent public access.

The college achieved a ‘good’ rating at its last inspection in March 2016, and said it is looking forward to demonstrating the progress made at its first monitoring visit in six months’ time.

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