New Wigan college branded "inadequate" by education watchdog

A specialist Wigan further education college has come under fire following its first full inspection by the education watchdog.

Concerns including issues of hygiene standards, low expectations and failings to spot signs of neglect led to My Life Learning in Standish getting an “inadequate” rating from Ofsted.

All the major performance criteria assessed in May were given the same low marks.

The college, which caters for learners aged 16 to 25 with a range of special educational needs and disabilities, had also been subject to extra monitoring visits due to insufficient progress.

My Life Learning is inadequate says Ofsted

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The report publishes an extensive list of shortcomings including an “uninspiring and unambitious” curriculum that fails to benefit students.

It also highlights a lack of opportunities for work experience meaning confidence and independence skills aren’t developed.

While learners enjoy attending college and feel supported, safeguarding arrangements are said to be ineffective and two recently appointed designated safeguarding leads are inexperienced.

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The report said: “Learners don’t routinely receive the support that they need to be successful in their learning, they do not identify, or embed into the curriculum, the support for which learners are funded.

"Leaders and managers do not provide training for staff or learners about local safeguarding issues, such as the exploitation of young people. They are unclear about the local issues relating to radicalisation and extremism.

The safeguarding team failed to identify potential issues such as neglect or to refer concerns to external agencies.

“Learners feel safe. They know whom to go to if they feel sad or need help. However, leaders have not created a culture in which learners develop appropriate behaviours and skills that will keep them safe.

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“Learners making sandwiches to sell to college staff do not follow appropriate food hygiene standards.”

Ofsted are urging the college to urgently improve safeguarding, and are encouraging them to use funding effectively.

A statement from My Life Learning said: “We were asked by Wigan Council to set up My Life Learning in 2018 and have gradually built the provision to provide crucial independent specialist further education for 26 learners in our beautiful 84-acre site.

“When we received an Ofsted new provider monitoring report last year, we acted upon the recommendations and put in place a new leadership team, brought in experts in specialist further education to refine our curriculum, and made further teaching appointments.

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“We’ve also taken the opportunity over the last 12 months to consult with families in terms of what they wanted to see from My Life Learning. Overwhelmingly, they asked for individualised pathways for the young people they care for and to that end our curriculum now reflects that desire.”

“The college said it was pleased Ofsted recognised learners enjoyed college and felt supported, and added that governors were now “suitably experienced in the further education and SEND sectors.

“We’re confident that we’ve involved all stakeholders in our mission to improve My Life Learning, and that changes to offer an ambitious, aspirational and challenging curriculum will be both obvious and immediate.”

Cath Pealing, Wigan Council’s assistant education director, said: “We are aware of the inspection outcome of this provider and are working with them to look at how they can make improvements.

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“We will review the current placements of those attending and will support them with the most appropriate plan moving forward.”