Show of support from college’s stakeholders after Ofsted blow
PUBLISHED: 12:41 16 November 2018
Suffolk and Norfolk business leaders and influencers have offered their support to Easton and Otley College in the wake of its second damning inspectors’ report.
Leaders at the land college say they have been heartened by messages from across the farming, business and education community, which has rallied behind it.
Lord Iveagh, of Elveden Estate, who is chair of farm charity the Chadacre Trust, said the college retained its confidence, adding that it was “valued highly” in the rural community.
Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East director Ben Underwood said his organisation was “fully behind” the renewed focus and objectives of the college. “The whole industry needs to get behind them,” he added.
Suffolk Agricultural Association boss Phillip Ainsworth said he had “every confidence” in the current leadership team and backed its strategic transition plan. “The emerging strategy must be given time to embed itself in order to properly assess outcomes,” he said.
Helen Langton, vice chancellor at the University of Suffolk, said it was important to support the college and the role it played in land-based education in the region. She also gave her backing to principal Jane Townsend.
“They recognise there are challenges but understandably these will take more than a year to rectify,” she said. “It is clear from their recent review they are moving in the right direction.”
Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-tech East, said the stakeholder support for the college “must not be under-estimated” as she praised the “significant changes” it had made. “It is recognised that it provides a critical artery to the businesses and skills needs to prepare the region,” she said.
Euston Estate director Andrew Blenkiron said the leadership had his full support, adding other farmers were also keen to ensure it continues to provide an education to farming’s future workforce. “Having a specialist land-based college in Suffolk and Norfolk is absolutely essential,” he said.
Glenn Buckingham, chair of the National Farmers’ Union Suffolk branch, admitted the report was ‘disappointing’ but added that Ofsted was “a very blunt measure”. “The land-based industries that the college trains students for needs these facilities and my experience of student visits to farm have been good. The students do question farming operations and students that I have had from Otley were able to satisfactorily present to visiting students the details of their work here. The NFU and its members are happy to work with the college on its journey to improve.”
The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association said it “continues to stand squarely behind the college and its leadership team”, while acknowledging there is much work still to do.