Time for debate, not attacks

28th January 2005 at 00:00
As the head of a national residential specialist college with a strong reputation for educating and training students with physical disabilities, I am appalled to see recent articles (on failing colleges) in FE Focus. My own college has helped more than 10,000 students in the last half a century to move into employment and independent lifestyles as a result of the education and training they have received within our residential environment.

I find your comments unhelpful at a time when we are trying to improve opportunities for these most needy students with often profound and multiple physical disabilities.

The articles ignore the excellent work that goes on in many parts of our specialist sector, and I would wish that, at this moment in our pedagogic development, we would be having a professional debate, rather than an ill-informed journalistic opinion in the pages of your newspaper, which is supposed to represent the development of education and training in the nation.

While you are headlining the minority of colleges that are failing, let me remind you that my college has just been inspected by a team of eight inspectors and one financial auditor from Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate . The inspection was extremely rigorous and thorough. It was undertaken at a time when the inspectorates are under financial pressure, but neither the breadth nor the scope of the inspection was affected.

Could I therefore urge you to open up this much-needed professional debate, so that we can share adequate rather than inadequate practice to promote even more success for our very needy students with disabilities and or associated learning difficulties.

MEA Syms Principal and chief executive officer Portland college Nottingham Road Mansfield

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today