Ofsted finds 'reasonable progress' being made at specialist college in Wigan

Changes have been made at a specialist college for students in Wigan, after education inspectors raised concerns about safeguarding.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:55 am

Ofsted carried out an inspection at My Life Learning in Standish in July - the first since it opened for learners aged 16 to 25 with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) - and found “insufficient progress” was being made in three areas considered.

Particular concerns were highlighted about safeguarding, with the inspectors noting the lack of measures to prevent learners leaving the site or other people entering.

At the time Ofsted said leaders had introduced some measures, including security gates at the front entrance and CCTV cameras across the site, and there were plans more in the pipeline.

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After returning to the centre last month, they have now published a report which says “reasonable progress” is being made to ensure effective safeguarding arrangements are in place.

Lead inspector Paul Cocker wrote: “Leaders, managers and governors have taken decisive action to improve the weaknesses in safeguarding identified at the previous monitoring visit.

“They have put in place a range of measures to protect learners from potential safeguarding risks when they attend college.

“For example, they have demarcated the learning zone from other areas on site and put in place single entry and exit gates to control those who enter and leave the learning zone. They have installed anti-climb fencing and planted conifer trees to act as a physical barrier to the public walkway that runs adjacent to the learning zone. At break times, learners are supervised by members of staff to assure their safety.”

He found “appropriate policies and procedures” were in place and staff had received training on them.

The designated safeguarding staff had also undergone training and could “respond swiftly when staff identify welfare or safeguarding concerns”.

Leaders worked with external organisations to support learners in areas such as healthy sexual relationships and mental health.

They also had measures in place when recruiting staff, including disclosure and barring scheme checks, to ensure they were suitable to work with vulnerable people.

Learners felt able to share concerns with members of staff and were taught how to stay safe, such as by not talking to strangers, as well as strategies to become more independent in their day-to-day lives.

Ofsted also reported learners had not been able to attend work experience placements until recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had “hindered” the development of their skills.

My Life Learning is part of the wider My Life charity and currently has 26 learners, who attend lessons in a variety of subjects, such as English, maths, animal care, life skills, art, catering, information and communication technology, and horticulture.

My Life’s chief executive Caroline Tomlinson said: “To get to this encouraging point so quickly is due to the hard work of everyone involved with My Life Learning, and we will continue to implement the improvement plan in all areas with the ultimate aim of making My Life Learning the very best specialist further education college it can be.”

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