Shrewsbury Colleges Group has today 16 March 2020 responded to the publication of a report of its recent Ofsted inspection.
Principal James Staniforth said: “On behalf of our excellent staff, who work so hard to ensure that students are safe, we are bitterly disappointed that the inspection team judged that arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.
“We are surprised by the judgement, given the wealth of evidence presented to Ofsted about our effective safeguarding processes and a recent independent safeguarding review of the college which concluded that the college is one of the safest in the country.
“We particularly cannot understand how Ofsted can disregard the expert view of the police when it comes to the safety of the college and the effectiveness of our practices.
“Since Ofsted’s visit:
- An independent review of safeguarding at the college, undertaken at the request of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), concluded that ‘campuses are safe places to learn, work and to visit’, ‘there is a strong culture of safeguarding’, ‘every effort has been made to ensure safe sites and safe students and staff’ and the college is ‘one of the safest in the country’.
- West Mercia Police have confirmed that they have ‘no concerns’ regarding any of the college’s three campuses and that the college works ‘in close partnership’ with West Mercia Police ‘to safeguard young people who may be vulnerable to being exploited’
- The Shropshire Safeguarding Partnership have said that they ‘felt assured of the effectiveness of their safeguarding arrangements’ at the college.
- An Education and Skills Funding Agency audit of college safeguarding training for all staff concluded that they were ‘completely assured’ by the work of the college.
“The vast majority of students and staff, in surveys conducted by ourselves and by Ofsted, tell us that they feel safe in college. Health and safety practices are consistent, and we provide a significant programme of training to help students keep themselves safe online and in their local communities.
“Nevertheless, we are pleased that Ofsted rated all the other elements of the college as good – including the quality of education, personal development, education programmes for young people, adult learning programmes, apprenticeships and provision for students with high needs.
“They rightly recognise that the college is ‘clearly focused on delivering a wide-ranging curriculum that is available to all and meets the needs of students and apprentices including those who have high needs.
“We are confident that when a fresh Ofsted inspection team comes into the college, they will agree with the wide range of experts who say our college is safe.
Mr Staniforth added: “We would also like to invite parents, applicants, partners and the broader community to come into the college and see our safe, supportive atmosphere and rigorous processes for themselves.
“We would anticipate that another Ofsted team will return in due course and they will have a fresh opportunity to see how we ensure students are safe and the rich body of evidence to that effect.”