Shrewsbury Colleges Group in formal complaint over Ofsted inspection finding

A college has filed a complaint with education inspectors who judged its safeguarding to be "ineffective".

The college has filed a complaint over the inspection
The college has filed a complaint over the inspection

Shrewsbury Colleges Group has challenged Ofsted over its findings of a recent inspection – which has not yet been made public.

The college's principal, James Staniforth, has roundly rejected the findings and said he respected Ofsted, but that he had "never experienced anything like this inspection" in 27 years in education.

He said: “Our college campuses are safe places to study. We are confident that our excellent staff have the right safeguarding processes and procedures in place.

“We respect Ofsted’s work and mission but this particular judgement is wrong. The inspection team ran out of time and didn’t have the opportunity to assess the relevant evidence.

“In 27 years in working in education and having been through seven Ofsted inspections, I have never experienced anything like this inspection.

"The team didn’t have the time to review the evidence we had to hand. We have issued a formal complaint."

It is yet to be seen whether the findings are included or have been amended when the final report is published.

A date has yet to be given for when the report will be published.

The college has outlined a number of the criticisms mentioned in the unpublished report – but has also challenged and rejected the premise on which they were made, arguing evidence was not properly assessed.

One of those was that "students do not feel safe".

The college has said that in its own college leavers survey "more than 9 out of 10 students said they felt safe", and added: "The inspection team provided us with no evidence related to our students not feeling safe."

The college has also accused the inspection team of "running out of time" and failing to assess evidence of its safeguarding plans.

The college has said that 'the feedback given during the inspection was that its safeguarding processes were effective'.

“That judgement was changed on the final day of the inspection without adequate explanation,” said Mr Staniforth.

He added: “As a college principal, teaching professional and parent I can't stress enough how important it is that all institutions are safe places to study.

"We would not be contesting the judgement if any part of the colleges were unsafe."

College chair Gordon Channon said: “We have a rich body of evidence to demonstrate that the safety and care of students in our colleges is of the upmost importance.

"We look forward to Ofsted having another chance to review that evidence. We very much hope that common sense prevails.”

Responding a spokesman for Ofsted said: "Ofsted does not comment on any complaints received.

"However, we take all complaints very seriously and investigate each one thoroughly, dealing with them as quickly as possible.

"We aim to carry out all of our work to a high standard but recognise that, occasionally, concerns may arise about our actions or the conduct of our staff.

"All our judgements are subject to extended quality assurance that the provider which has been inspected contributes to and can comment upon.

"Following this process the provider can request a review. This will include revisiting inspection evidence.

"If a complainant is dissatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled they can request an internal review.

"Following this a complainant can request an external review of the handling of the complaint from the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted.

"Finally if a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of this review they can refer their concerns to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman."

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