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Ofsted drops special needs college from outstanding to inadequate

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: April 29, 2014

Ruskin Mill

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INSPECTORS have downgraded a college for teenagers with special needs from outstanding to inadequate.

Ruskin Mill College has dropped from the highest grade awarded by education regulator Ofsted to the lowest because of concerns over safeguarding and bullying.

Leadership and management was rated at four - the lowest. But there were ‘good’ ratings - level two - for teaching and outcomes at the Nailsworth and Horsley independent specialist college.

It caters for 93 teenagers between 16 and 19 with a range of learning disabilities, and emotional and behaviour problems, through a craft-based curriculum inspired by William Morris, Rudolf Steiner and John Ruskin.

Courses including willow, iron and leather work, welding, Organic horticulture, livestock and fish farming were praised overall by inspectors but they said ‘the college has not maintained the high quality of teaching that inspectors found at the last inspection’.

Monitoring of safeguarding, managing challenging behaviour, how bullying is dealt with, and getting safeguarding links right between residential and educational departments was flagged up as a concern.

The complexity of needs of the students has ‘increased significantly since the last inspection’, the report, released yesterday, said.

College principal Elisabeth Johnson said it is addressing all concerns raised by Ofsted.

“As part of strengthening the overarching quality assurance procedures, management of the residential provision offered by the college has been restructured and improved safeguarding arrangements with enhanced reporting and monitoring systems are being implemented,” she said. “These improvements will better enable the college to respond to and meet changing needs and requirements of all of its students.”

She said was ‘pleased’ that Ofsted recognised the quality and strengths of the teaching and the skills of the staff.

The report said Ruskin Mill College was rated as inadequate because:

*Managers and trustees have not taken effective action to bring about overall improvements in the college in response to the increasingly complex needs of the students, and the quality of provision has declined since the last inspection.

*The arrangements to evaluate and monitor all aspects of safeguarding are weak, and the number of significant incidents, including bullying, continues to be too high.

*The lines of accountability and reporting for safeguarding, including the links between the residential and teaching functions, are unclear.

*The arrangements to promote equality and diversity are not working effectively.

The report said Ruskin Mill College’s strengths were:

*Many students progress successfully to their chosen destinations when leaving the college.

* The standards of students’ work are good, and sometimes outstanding.

* Very good teaching in many subjects maintains the interest of those students who have previously been disengaged from formal learning settings.

* Programmes of learning are individually designed and make good use of the college’s excellent practical resources.

* The therapeutic support is very good and improves students’ well-being.

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