Watchdog cites loud music and vaping as Surrey college downgraded

East Surrey College handed 'requires improvement' rating over apprenticeships and behaviour and attitudes

East Surrey College handed 'requires improvement' rating over apprenticeships and behaviour and attitudes

10 Mar 2023, 10:37

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Ofsted has downgraded a college after finding “poor behaviour” including students vaping in the building.

East Surrey College, which along with John Ruskin College and Reigate School of Art forms Orbital South Colleges, received an overall ‘requires improvement’ report this week from the watchdog. It was judged ‘good’ on its previous inspection of 2017.

The college was rated ‘good’ in all areas of its most recent inspection except for behaviour and attitudes, and apprenticeships, which both had grade three ratings.

Inspectors said that students benefitted from “well-considered tutorial and enrichment programmes” and “develop their skills confidently and competently”.

But they also reported that “staff do not encourage students to attend consistently and so their attendance is too low”.

The report found that “too many students do not behave appropriately in communal areas,” while staff “do not challenge poor behaviour effectively”.

Among the problems the education watchdog reported were students vaping indoors, playing “loud, distracting music” and groups of students blocking corridors without letting people pass.

According to the inspectors, teachers did not give feedback to apprentices that helped them understand their strengths and areas for development effectively enough, which meant they were too slow to develop the skills and knowledge they needed.

While apprentices received careers advice at the start of their course, it did not continue through their programme to help them understand how their skills and knowledge could be used in other sectors or jobs, the report added.

Despite the overall grade, the report praised leaders’ work with local enterprise partnerships to understand and contribute to local skills needs.

They found that “many students become respectful and empathetic to the needs of others” through opportunities to be active citizens.

Most courses were planned logically, and most teachers used assessment well to evaluate students’ learning, the report said.

The college last received a full inspection in December 2014, but kept its ‘good’ rating in a short inspection in October 2017.

Inspectors said in October 2017 that John Ruskin College ‘requires improvement’.

At the time of the most recent inspection, Orbital South Colleges had about 2,500 16-18 students, 950 adult learners and 800 apprentices, as well as 230 high-needs students and 175 learners aged 14-16. It also had 25 students on supported internships.

Bob Pickles, chair of Orbital South Colleges Corporation, said: “There is much to be proud of in this report, and since the inspection three months ago we have already made significant progress on the two areas identified for improvement.

“We have a new chief executive and exec team in place who are committed to addressing the continuing development or our apprenticeship provision, and providing a mutually respectful environment for our students to thrive in.”

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