Educational inspector Ofsted has downgraded West London College, which operates Ealing Green College and Southall Community College, from “Good” to “Requires improvement” following an inspection earlier this year (January 17-20 2023).
In it’s report, published March 17 2023, the inspectors said of the College that has sites in Ealing, Hammersmith, Park Royal and Southall, there were concerns over how students are taught and challenged as well as shortages of tutors.
It said: “Learners are not following a sufficiently challenging curriculum and tutors’ expectations are often too low, meaning that they do not encourage learners to aim beyond the minimum requirements to pass the qualification. Too often, learners on education programmes for young people have their learning disrupted due to lesson cancellations, as a result of staff absence or shortages.
“Across adult learning programmes, too many learners do not receive good enough teaching. Consequently, in too many programme areas, including ESOL, access to higher education in science and accountancy, a low proportion of learners achieve their planned learning aims.”
The report also highlighted that tutors do their best to help learners. It said: “Learners and apprentices appreciate that tutors go out of their way to help and support them if they have concerns. For example, tutors offer extra help and guidance, going above and beyond learners’ expectations. Tutors refer learners and apprentices to specialist advisers if they require support with their well-being. As a result, learners feel confident to turn to staff for help when they need it.”
The inspectors found that that diversity is celebrated at the College and students feel they are respected. The report added: “Learners feel safe and they benefit through learning in an inclusive environment. They are aware of the values expected of them, and staff are good role models. Learners report that they do not hear discriminatory language at college.”
Ofsted said the College handled safeguarding well. In its findings, the inspectors stated: “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Leaders and the designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) have a very accurate understanding of the specific risks that learners may face across the four campuses of the college. As a result, they take very effective steps to minimise these risks. For example, at one campus, leaders work well with external agencies, including community police officers and charities, to minimise the risks of learners joining active gangs in the locality.”
But when it comes to providing direction and feedback to students, Ofsted found it to be lacking: “Too few teachers and tutors provide constructive feedback to learners on their work and in formal reviews of their progress. Consequently, too few learners know the steps they need to take in order to improve the standard of their work.”
It further revealed: “On education programmes for young people, teachers do not always check learners’ knowledge and understanding well enough in lessons. For example, in GCSE mathematics, teachers model the translation of shapes on a white board. However, they do not check whether learners understand the topic securely before moving on. As a result, teachers do not have sufficient awareness of learners’ understanding, and the areas with which they may need extra help.”
It told the College what is needed to improve. This includes the quality of education, ensuring there are enough tutors to teach, getting students focused on attending classes, provide better and high-quality feedback to students and expand personal development curriculum.
In a statement Karen Redhead OBE, principal and CEO of West London College said: “We appreciate the Ofsted team’s recognition of the college’s many strengths and their acknowledgement that we have already begun taking action to improve.
“As a college, we have been on an arduous recovery journey to ensure our long-term future, improving our financial health against an increasingly challenging environment with rising inflation and increased costs. We have also been working hard to ensure that staffing levels are maintained in a highly competitive market where teacher vacancies are close to double pre-Covid levels (National Foundation for Educational Research).
“The report is clear that we are honest, self-critical, have ‘a well-set out plan’ for improvement to happen, and that some positive impact is already evident.
“Our learners are at the heart of this plan and we are confident that our ongoing efforts will lead to improved outcomes. We look forward to working with Ofsted and our other key stakeholders on this journey.”