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College of West Anglia criticised for 'losing track of students' on Nottinghamshire programme

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The College of West Anglia has been severely criticised for its handling of a course it paid a sub-contractor to provide in Nottinghamshire
The College of West Anglia has been severely criticised for its handling of a course it paid a sub-contractor to provide in Nottinghamshire

The College of West Anglia (CWA) has been censured for failures in the delivery of a study programme delivered more than 80 miles from its campus in Wisbech.

An investigation by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has revealed the CWA didn't know where students enrolled on the programme in Nottinghamshire were being taught for six months.

And the football club whose facilities were hired for the course has claimed it was not paid by the contractor.

Now, the ESFA has ordered the CWA to address the failures found in the probe and barred it from entering any similar arrangements until they are satisfied the issues have been resolved.

The college says it has already addressed the issues identified in the report.

The report said the college appointed GEMEG Limited to deliver a sports-based study programme for 16 to 19-year-olds, which began in August 2015.

The programme had initially been intended to be run from Yaxley, near Peterborough, but was switched to the Gresham Sports Pavilion in Nottingham, as insufficient numbers were recruited.

However, students told the ESFA they had never attended any sessions in Nottingham and were trained in Worksop, 83 miles from CWA's Wisbech campus and none of them attended or passed GCSE maths or English qualifications.

The report said: "CWA were unaware that the 19 identified students were attending the study programme at an unknown venue in Worksop between September 2015 and February 2016."

It added that, when the college was told of the venue, it approved it without carrying out any checks and did not act when it became aware it was not fully appropriate as a teaching venue.

The college paid more than £50,000 to GEMEG for the programme, barely a third of the original £140,000 value of the contract, and GEMEG claimed it had paid £22,000 to Worksop Town Football Club for the use of its facilities.

But the report said: "The Club state they did not receive the funds and are considering their options regarding this matter, including whether or not to refer the issue to the police."

The report, which was published yesterday, was compiled after allegations relating to the programme were reported to ESFA last October.

Concerns over the running of the project were also raised by Worksop's MP, Labour's John Mann.

In a statement issued this afternoon, CWA principal David Pomfret said it had ended its association with contractor GEMEG more than a year before the inquiry began, because of its own concerns about their performance.

College of West Anglia principal David Pomfret
College of West Anglia principal David Pomfret

He added: “At the time of the ESFA’s investigation visit to CWA in November 2017, we had already implemented changes to our processes to address most of the perceived weaknesses and recommendations mentioned in the report.

“Since then, we have further strengthened oversight of sub-contracting delivery, which includes our own staff directly overseeing enrolment of 16-18 year olds and discontinuing non-local Study Programme sub-contracted delivery.

“We have also carried out a full review of subcontracting controls and assurance systems and processes and are confident these are operating effectively for all subcontracted provision.”

The college says all of the students enrolled on the programme were from the East Midlands area and no similar programmes are currently being run.

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