A special needs school has blamed difficulties in recruiting and high levels of sickness on a staff shortage which led to 14 students being temporarily excluded.
Henshaws College is the only non-private specialist education provision for students aged 16-25 in the Harrogate District.
But earlier this month, the education of 14 students at the college was temporarily suspended until January, by which time Henshaws hopes to recruit the additional 19 staff members it needs.
A spokesperson for Henshaws said: “Our current shortfall of staff is due to the complicated mix of student needs and the high level of skill required, alongside the high levels of student and staff sickness and difficulty recruiting in the area.
“In addition, it is not always possible to fully assess a disabled student’s needs until they are in an environment for a while and this can also lead to a need for additional staffing.
“We continue to actively recruit for the necessary specialist roles and hope to be able to resume full provision as soon as possible.”
The college said that the decision to temporarily suspend the attendance of the students was made following a safety review.
Until its latest inspection by the Care Quality Commission, Henshaws College had been rated as ‘Good’, but in March this year, the health watchdog told the college that it required improvement.
However Henshaws has defended its position and also said that the findings by the CQC were not related to the recent decision to suspend students.
A spokesperson for Henshaws added: “We are naturally disappointed with the findings of the CQC inspection carried out in March.
“We have, however, been working very hard with CQC to reinstate our Good rating and expect another inspection in the near future. The recent CQC report gave us a “good” rating for the service as both caring and responsive.
“We should point out that the CQC report from this inspection, which was published in June, is not in any way connected with our decision this month to temporarily withdraw provision for 14 students.
“This was a very difficult decision and we understand it is very upsetting for the students, families and for our college staff.
“Many of our students have extremely complex health and care needs, some requiring two-to-one care, and we believed this step was necessary to ensure safety while we recruit additional staff and whilst operating within tight budgets.
“We are working closely with everyone affected to minimise the disruption to these young peoples’ education and care and we look forward to welcoming most of the students back soon.”