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College Ofsted report 'a real tonic' - despite failings in English and maths

PUBLISHED: 16:54 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:14 31 October 2019

Easton and Otley College leaders Mark Pendlington, chair of governors, and principal Jane Townsend say they are proud of improvements made  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Easton and Otley College leaders Mark Pendlington, chair of governors, and principal Jane Townsend say they are proud of improvements made Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Archant

A struggling Suffolk college has made "insufficient progress" in maths and English skills - but has made "reasonable progress" in all other areas, inspectors said.

Easton and Otley College  principal Jane Townsend, and chair of governors Mark Pendlington give their feedback on a monitoring visit which took place in October 2019   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEaston and Otley College principal Jane Townsend, and chair of governors Mark Pendlington give their feedback on a monitoring visit which took place in October 2019 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Easton and Otley College - which failed two Ofsteds in a row and is due to be de-merged and partnered up with two neighbouring further education (FE) colleges - had been unable to recruit and retain suitably qualified and experienced staff in the two core subjects, an Ofsted monitoring report said.

But college bosses managed to recruit suitable staff, and they continue to provide staff development and coaching to improve teachers' skills, Ofsted said. Inspectors also acknowledged "modest gains" in GCSE grades.

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"For much of 2018/19 leaders and managers were unable to recruit and retain suitably qualified and experienced staff to teach English and mathematics. This overshadowed much of learners' experiences, which were not good enough," the report, which followed a monitoring visit at the college's Suffolk and Norfolk campuses between October 3 and 4.

"In Functional Skills English, the proportion of learners who achieved a pass increased, but for mathematics it declined. Governors and senior leaders remain acutely aware of the need for rapid improvement."

Pass rates at Easton and Otley increased and are now high in engineering, construction and equine studies, according to Ofsted Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSPass rates at Easton and Otley increased and are now high in engineering, construction and equine studies, according to Ofsted Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

The visit took place amid a period of great upheaval for the college, with Otley campus set to be merged with Suffolk New College from January 1, while Easton campus will join with City College Norwich.

The college said it had scored well, with four key areas showing major improvements, with pass rates increasing in engineering, construction and equine studies, and the proportion of students passing qualifications improving markedly.

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Principal Jane Townsend said: "The green shoots of recovery have been recognised - and everyone at the college is committed to taking the action that is needed to ensure our students have the best possible chance to succeed and progress in the future."

She added: "I'm delighted at the strong feedback we have received and very proud of all the hard work and commitment shown by everyone at both campuses. I've also been overwhelmed by the positivity that has been shown by our learners.

"This latest report is an excellent and fair reflection of the good progress that we are making, and this positive feedback is a testament to the efforts of everyone at the college."

Chair of governors Mark Pendlington, said the inspectors' feedback was "just what we needed to hear" and "a real tonic".

"Ofsted is a tough judge on standards of quality and learning, so to win their recognition of good progress is testament to the hard work of everyone at the college," he said.

"And I hope this vote of confidence is recognised by all our staff and students as we continue to inspire learners into rewarding jobs and careers.

"We are now all looking forward to an exciting and secure future as our two campuses merge with City College Norwich and Suffolk New College in early 2020."

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