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Coulsdon college executive principal: 'If you don't attend you get sacked'

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Rachel Millard speaks to the man who says he can free Coulsdon Sixth Form College from its inadequate rating.... "IT IS just like Sainsbury's; if you don't attend you get sacked, as simple as that." As the new executive principal of struggling Coulsdon Sixth Form College' Steve Oxlade believes getting tough on students who skip class is the way forward.

Mr Oxlade is leading the college under a new partnership with Reigate College, where he is principal, in order to improve Coulsdon after it received a second consecutive 'inadequate' rating from Ofsted last month.

The two colleges have formed a federation and are working towards merging once Coulsdon catches up with Reigate in becoming recognised as 'outstanding' by Ofsted.

Coulsdon College principal David Goodlet retired on Friday as part of the agreement and will not immediately be replaced.

Mr Oxlade, who will remain principal at Reigate, said he has a "19-point improvement plan" for Coulsdon which will see it aligning its practices and standards with Reigate's.

Discussing plans to improve the college's relatively low attendance rate of around 84 per cent, he said: "One-hundred per cent attendance is the expectation. Anyone who goes under 90 per cent will not be allowed back.

"Look, that is unacceptable. As far as we are concerned it is just like Sainsbury's: if you don't attend you get sacked, as simple as that. The policy at Reigate is you are either in hospital or in college. There is no in-between."

He added there would also be zero tolerance of late work, with parents asked to come in if their child's work was late and students suspended if parents did not appear.

He said he aimed to make clear college was a place where "students have an entitlement to learn", adding: "That means someone who does not see that as important won't belong here and will have to go somewhere else.

"It will be a shock, but one that will give parents confidence that they know that this is a place where their son or daughter will be taught well and expectations will be high."

The curriculum is to include a "much wider choice" of Btec nationals, and students will be able to mix and match A levels and Btecs, Mr Oxlade added.

"I think some of the issues of the college in the past have been that they have, with the very best motives, taken students on to courses that actually they are not really equipped to take," Mr Oxlade said.

"The core of teaching here is outstanding but it is very difficult to get a student to pass or get a good grades at A level if they have only got three or four GCSEs, so we have got to be honest with students and we have to recruit with integrity.

"To take a student on a course that they stand no chance of passing is not something that we will even consider."

Mr Oxlade added he would be looking at the performance of all teachers, and that nothing but "outstanding in everything" would be acceptable.

He said: "There is some teaching that needs improving. Not nearly as much as you would imagine by reading that report.

"Any teachers who don't provide outstanding teaching will need to seriously consider whether this is the place for them to work, because the demands here will be incredible." The new federation between Coulsdon Sixth Form College and Reigate College sees Reigate taking 'strategic control' of Coulsdon. Reigate stepped up after being phoned by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association, less than two months ago. Reigate College's ex-principal, Dr Paul Rispoli, who retired in December 2011, will be leading the 'implementation strategy'. Bernard Borland, ex-principal of St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College, will be working with the college between September and December. A successor to Mr Goodlet will be appointed at that time, although his exact role is not yet decided. Coulsdon will also be joining the Surrey S7 Consortium of sixth form colleges, which includes Godalming, Reigate and Woking. When it becomes recognised as 'outstanding' by Ofsted, the two colleges will merge. Mr Oxlade said: "The idea is to move this college from where we are now extremely rapidly to a much, much better place. "Ultimately, I would like to think this is a corridor of excellence from Croydon to Horley."

The college is holding an open evening on May 1. Visit www.coulsdon.ac.uk for details.

Coulsdon college executive principal: 'If you don't attend you get sacked'


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