Wigan specialist college My Life Learning sees contract terminated after poor Ofsted report

An independent specialist college in Wigan has seen its contract with the local authority cancelled, just weeks after it was rated as “inadequate” by education inspectors.

My Life Learning, in Standish, opened in 2018 to provide education for people aged 16 to 25 with additional needs.

But it failed to impress Ofsted, with its first full inspection – the results of which were published earlier this month – seeing the worst possible rating of “inadequate”.

A host of concerns were raised, including that safeguarding arrangements were “not effective” and students did not develop “the substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours of which they are capable”.

Caroline Tomlinson, founder of My Life Learning

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Now Wigan Council has decided to terminate its contract with My Life Learning.

The college’s 26 students – who learn about independence, employability or horticulture and animal care – will be offered education elsewhere.

Cath Pealing, the council’s assistant director of education, said: “Due to the latest inspection judgement of My Life, we are now reviewing all education commissioned placements there for our young people.

"We will be working with our families, young people and other providers within the borough to ensure all young people transition smoothly to an alternative provider.”

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The decision has come as a real blow for the organisation, which is part of the wider My Life charity helping people of all ages and abilities, including children, people with disabilities or illnesses and those struggling with loneliness and isolation.

My Life was set up in 2012 by Caroline Tomlinson, who was inspired to make a difference after her son contracted meningitis and developed a range of complex disabilities.

A spokesman for My Life said: “My Life Legacy regretfully confirms that the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) and Wigan Council have decided to end our contract to provide independent specialist further education at My Life Learning.

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"This will mean that by the end of October, the 26 students who follow our bespoke curriculum with its personalised learning pathway will have been given options of alternative provision in the area.

“Where relevant, some may choose to continue accessing our meaningful activities and work-based experiences at My Life Opportunities and My Life Works. We will do the utmost to ensure students and their families are supported during this unsettling transitional period and will continue to support learners where necessary.”

They said students “thrive and achieve things they never thought possible” at My Life Learning.

But the spokesman continued: “It became clear that parts of our innovative, person-centred approach to education, based on the skills, gifts and needs of each individual student, didn’t match fully enough with the expectations of regulators for formal education within a specialist further education college.”

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They said they did not feel they had received the leadership advice and curriculum support needed since setting up My Life Learning and had not had the chance to show changes had been made since the Ofsted inspection.

The Wigan Post has contacted the ESFA about its contract with My Life Learning but a spokesman declined to comment.