LEADERS of Tavistock College have this week expressed their ‘total commitment’ to ensuring the college is the best it can be as improvements continue to be made following a damning Ofsted report in September which labelled it ‘inadequate.’

CEO of the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust Dan Morrow and college principal Tristan Muller-Forster told the Times that a new ‘academy improvement plan’ would be launched in January and this would be discussed with parents at a community meeting on January 26.

This was on the back of a rapid plan implemented during the autumn term to ensure that the college improved in the areas of ‘developing a culture for learning and living’, ‘inclusion at the heart of all we do’, ‘equality for all’ and ‘community cohesion’.

The Ofsted report revealed, after a visit by inspectors in the summer, that the the day-to-day life of the school was disrupted by poor behaviour and bullying was rife.

It was critical of leadership and management and said children did not feel safe in school.

The quality of education ‘required improvement’ and the overall rating was ‘inadequate’. Inspectors were, however, impressed with the sixth form provision which received a ‘good’ rating.

The college said it was deeply disappointed with the findings which it said were ‘wholly unacceptable’ but it received further criticism from parents when some of the measures implemented to improve behaviour were put in place. These were deemed to be ‘going too far’, with children being told to line up before class and perform an ‘arms raised’ routine. There was also concern about widening the entrance to the toilet communal area. This was intended to crack down on bad behaviour but which led to worries about loss of privacy.

Dan Morrow said this week: ‘We are very aware that some of the community were initially concerned about the scale and scope of the changes and we really do appreciate the positive comments received recently now that the impact of the raised expectations are being felt and seen.

‘Additionally, the comments we have had from our external visitors, our students as well as our own Trust colleagues are that, due to the platform of improvement we have built, we are now in a position to look beyond the rapid improvement plan we set out in September and to start additional key actions moving forwards including;

Development of our curriculum

Our high-quality teaching and learning for all of our young people

Our recognition and rewards program

Our extracurricular offer to all young people 

‘These aspects and more will form part of our new academy improvement plan (AIP)’

This would take place after monitoring feedback from Ofsted, he said.

‘We have in the interim undergone a monitoring inspection by Devon County Council and also the NSPCC to externally check on our safeguarding procedures and how students feel about the school.’

The Devon County Council advisor stated: ‘It was clear from the site visit that the school leadership (SLT) team have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and vulnerabilities in terms of safeguarding across the setting.

‘They have a clear plan moving forward and it is evidence from speaking to students and staff that things have improved since the Ofsted inspection in May 2022. It is clear that the school are on a journey and there is still work to be done, however, the school have made significant improvements in ensuring students feel safe and happy in school and this was echoed in student voice on the day.’

The NSPCC advisor reported: ‘During my last visit, most areas I audited were very positive. In this update it was clear from the outset there was a professional acceptance of the recommendations made by Ofsted and a desire to continue improving safeguarding at the college. The Ofsted visit had impacted staff, but it seems to have provided a catalyst, particularly to the SLT, to not sit back but strive for further excellence. I am confident this team will achieve and if my children were of college age, I would have no hesitation in supporting their attendance in this setting.’

Principal Tristan Muller-Forster said: ‘We are also working with senior leaders of outstanding schools to develop our systems and processes through a series of peer reviews and visits that are supporting us through robust challenge and rigorous assessment of where we are now, against where we want to be.

‘We are constantly striving to improve the college as a whole for the benefit of the entire community, the API is a significant piece of work.

‘The senior leadership team are totally committed to this process of school improvement and will do everything they can to ensure that the school, in this setting, is in the best place it can be.

‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have been part of the school improvement journey so far.

‘Whether you have attended our parent forums, parent council meetings, community meetings or simply had conversations with staff members about where we are, you are part of our solution and ambition to get the best possible outcomes, educational or otherwise for our young people.

‘Everything we do is for the young people and community and rebuilding that tight and supportive relationship with you all is so important to us.’

The principal added: ‘Please do continue to give us feedback through all the available channels and we look forward to welcoming the community into the school for the update meeting at the end of January.’