‘Reasonable progress’ on wellbeing of external learners at Peterborough and Stamford colleges - Ofsted

Ofsted has recorded that ‘reasonable progress’ is being made on safeguarding and wellbeing for external learners at Peterborough College and Stamford College.

The body carried out an inspection of Inspire Education Group which was created last August following a merger of Peterborough Regional College and New College Stamford.

The focus of the inspection was on: ‘How do leaders and managers ensure the safeguarding and wellbeing of their subcontracted learners?”

Inspire Education Group currently works with 11 subcontractors, of which four offer apprenticeships, three offer 16 to 18 study programmes and seven offer adult learning programmes.

Peterborough College

Following the monitoring inspection, Ofsted said that ‘reasonable progress’ is being made.

It stated: “Leaders and managers have effective working relationships with subcontractor partners. However, their safeguarding reporting to governors does not always include subcontracted partners.

“Consequently, governors do not have sufficient oversight of the safeguarding arrangements for their subcontracted learners.

“Subcontractor partners appreciate the advantages of working with the college. For example, they adopt college safeguarding policies and practices.

“Subcontractor staff benefit from the training that college managers provide.”

Ofsted added: “Leaders check subcontractors’ safeguarding contract compliance appropriately, with annual audits and due diligence. Managers identify safeguarding concerns through monthly performance meetings and act swiftly to support learners.

“However, leaders have not yet established consistent good practice across the college. For example, managers’ tracking and reporting of learners’ progress differs across the college.

“In the best case, they record a holistic view of progress that includes learners’ wellbeing and personal circumstances. In contrast, some tracking by managers only includes progress against qualification achievement.”

Ofsted noted that safeguarding leads “communicate effectively with their partners and frequently review partner safeguarding policies and practices,” adding that: “Partner staff benefit from the expertise, training and support of the college’s safeguarding leads.”

In addition, learners studying with subcontractors were said to have a “good understanding of how to keep themselves safe, including online,” and “understand how to look after their own mental health”, on top of regular reviews with their tutors to discuss any issues that might be affecting them”.

Rachel Nicholls, Principal of Peterborough College and Deputy CEO of Inspire Education Group, said: “While formal Ofsted inspections have been suspended due to the pandemic, we are delighted that a short monitoring visit confirmed that we continue to make progress to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of our subcontracted learners.

“We work with partner organisations to provide students with a variety of apprenticeship, post-16 and adult learning opportunities, and we continue to work closely with them to offer the best possible support and learning experiences.

“We are pleased that inspectors confirmed that the group has effective working relationships with our partner organisations, that our safeguarding checks are appropriate, and that our learners understand how to keep themselves safe.

“We are always aiming for excellence in everything we do and have already started working with our partners to establish consistent good practice across the group and further improve our reporting to governors.”