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Ipswich college criticised by Ofsted after surprise inspection

Suffolk New College has been critcised by Ofsted in a recent inspection report Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk New College has been critcised by Ofsted in a recent inspection report Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk New College has been criticised by education regulator Ofsted for failing to protect vulnerable learners at acute risk of self-harm.

The report, published this week, follows a surprise inspection of the college focusing on safeguarding concerns that had been brought to the watchdog's attention.

Suffolk New College currently has around 200 vulnerable learners under the age of 19, including care leavers, children in care, children on child protection plans and those designated as children in need.

The report concluded that "insufficient progress" had been made in safeguarding vulnerable learners, although the college is disputing its findings.

Ofsted said leaders at the college do not have a good enough oversight or understanding of the actions staff take, or should take, to secure the well-being of vulnerable learners and that staff records of meetings are "scant, poorly recorded and, on occasion, simply anecdotal."

However Suffolk New College said the Ofsted visit is not a fair reflection of its commitment to safeguarding.

A college spokesman said: "The college is disappointed with the published letter and doesn't feel it is a fair reflection of our care and commitment, following a recent unannounced monitoring visit conducted by Ofsted.

"The visit took place over a couple of hours and focused on an extremely small number of student records.

"We do not consider that this gave sufficient time or scope to accurately review and reflect the work that the College does to safeguard vulnerable students.

"This has been raised with Ofsted."

They said the safeguarding of students was an "absolute priority".

The report reads: "Leaders, managers and staff fail to identify and take appropriate action to protect vulnerable learners at acute risk of self-harm.
"Too few vulnerable learners attend well, more than half have very low attendance.

"Leaders and managers do not pay enough attention to the reasons behind learners' low attendance."

It goes on to say that "even when staff recognise and record key indicators of learners at risk of self-harm, they do not always take suitable steps to safeguard learners.

"Leaders and managers are unaware of this failure and have therefore not rectified it," the report said.

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