Henshaws College 'requires improvement' following period of instability

Henshaws College
Henshaws College

Henshaws College has been told it ‘requires improvement’ in its latest Ofsted Inspection following a period of ‘instability’ and a programme of redundancy.

The college in Harrogate, run by Henshaws Society for Blind People, provides further education to people with a range of disabilities aged between 16 to 25.

During its latest Ofsted assessment in May, inspectors concluded that the college requires improvement as they have been ‘unsuccessful’ in maintaining the good standards previously reported.

Inspectors concluded that the college must strengthen the quality of teaching, learning and assessment following ‘inconsistent’ student outcomes.

Henshaws new principal, Angela North, who was appointed in December, explained that while they had been through a ‘significant period of change’ they were now emerging as a better college.

She said: “The recent Ofsted inspection grade identifies our requirement to improve and reflects the challenges that the college has experienced since the last inspection, in part driven by national changes including austerity and localism.

“Moving forwards, the College will be re-inspected within two years and we are pleased to be working closely with Ofsted to embed our quality strategy.

“We look forward to continuing our work which has a huge impact on our students’ lives. We will continue to develop further measures of success as we work to ensure a positive future.”

Student numbers at the college have been dropping in recent years, leading to a redundancy programme which has meant the loss of experienced staff.

However, Ms North explained that the college now had a significant recruitment strategy in place and, as a result, student numbers have increased by almost 20 per cent this year.

Despite being run by Henshaws, the ratio of visually impaired students had been falling in recent years as the college began to work with students with other needs such as autism.

As a result, only 30 per cent of students at the college are visually impaired while they have a dedicated education centre for students on the autistic spectrum.

A new curriculum was also launched in September 2014 after the governance and leadership restructure but Ms North said the inspection was too early to demonstrate the impact of this change.

Ofsted criticised the college for the development of students’ English and mathematical skills as well as only a ‘few staff’ having effective skills in Makaton signing and intensive interaction techniques.

Inspectors also found that support staff do not promote learning and independence skills sufficiently.

However, inspectors praised the college for ensuring students developed their communications and personal skills well while many made good progress to develop and improve their behaviour.