College staff ‘threw out’ Ofsted officials during inspection

SENIOR college staff threw Ofsted inspectors off the premises during an official assessment and later claimed there had been “troubling incidents.”

Staff clashed with inspectors who were assessing the NCG organisation which runs Newcastle College on Tyneside, as well as the Intraining company in Prince of Wales Road, Sheffield, and Skelmersdale College in Lancashire.

The row broke out during an inspection in May and June, but the assessment was only completed last week after Ofsted was allowed back to conclude its findings.

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Newcastle College will now officially challenge its rating, which will see it downgraded from outstanding to good when it is officially released next month.

It was reported that, after the inspection, Ofsted staff were offered counselling, although a spokeswoman for the education watchdog could not confirm the claim.

In a memo leaked to the press, NCG chief executive Dame Jackie Fisher emailed staff to tell them: “Unfortunately the inspection came to an untimely end as a result of some troubling incidents.

“However, we finally agreed to allow the inspectors to return and the on-site inspection of NCG has now been concluded.

“Many of you are aware that the Ofsted inspection was not entirely trouble-free.

“We are planning to pursue with Ofsted some outstanding matters which may improve the grade profile.

“However, based on Ofsted’s track record in listening to provider complaints, this must be viewed as unlikely, regardless of how strong our case is.”

The NCG group has been a cause of controversy after it fell out with Newcastle City Council when the college group announced it planned to open a free school.

It has taken control of the Sheffield-based training provider Intraining, as well as Skelmersdale College, in recent years.

A spokesman for NCG said that the leaked briefing was a “private memo to staff to update them on the inspection.”

They added: “We are awaiting the full report from Ofsted, however their provisional findings say several areas of our teaching are outstanding and the majority are good.

“However, we are very concerned with the way the inspection was conducted and there were some troubling incidents which meant the inspection ended before it was complete.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “While Ofsted does not comment on individual complaints, we do take complaints very seriously, investigating each one rigorously and dealing with issues as quickly as possible.”