College ‘working to put right things it got wrong’, says head

Easton and Otley College principal Jane Townsend Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Easton and Otley College principal Jane Townsend Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College has been “working relentlessly” to get back on track following a damning Ofsted report last year, its principal said in her new year message.

Jane Townsend said it had been a “tremendous honour” to be awarded the post last year as she highlighted its “massive potential”. She had been “overwhelmed” by the active support and endless goodwill she had received from stakeholders, students and staff.

“Our Ofsted report has only galvanised us further to demonstrate our passion and determination to continue to improve,” she said.

MORE – College leaders pick themselves up after ‘bombshell’ Ofsted report“We have been working relentlessly since the Ofsted inspection on putting right things we got wrong. We heard recently that 92% of our leavers have a positive destination on leaving us with the majority gaining employment related to the course that they study, which compared to national averages is high.”

Her aim was to drive growth and continue to establish standards, making students proud to study there and an employer of choice. There had been “so many positive moments” in the year, she added.

“The numerous awards we received at both the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk shows fills me with an enormous sense of pride,” she said. “Another highlight was our student prize day events and our graduation ceremony for higher education learners. Seeing the sense of achievement of our students gives you a real sense of why working in education is so addictive and rewarding.”

One of her missions had been to reconnect with the past, with reunions at the Easton and Otley campuses.

“I was mesmerised when chatting to our former chair of governors – Robert Black – as he told me all about the history of our Suffolk campus,” she said. “I think it’s essential to have a sense of your history in order to shape where you want to go.”

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The college aimed to provide the skills that agri food industries need as they enter a technological and agricultural revolution, she said, and last year saw the launch of Rural Enterprise East at Otley to support start-ups and provide a central hub.

“Next year is a crucial time for all of us and in terms of the college. My message for 2019 is that I’d say to everyone, come and see for yourself what we are doing at both of our campuses and make your own judgements.”