Harrogate College Nightmares
Posted on 24th August 2023 at 19:52
There is something definitely not right in Harrogate College and it most definitely IS NOT the right place to be putting our young minds in to be cared for either based on the experience of a number of their students.
We recently heard from several students on a building course - how Harrogate College failed to send out their certificates of qualifications for over 9 months which prevented them all from getting jobs or apprenticeships in their chosen fields because they couldn’t prove they had the qualifications. A young beautician felt forced to leave for another college because they were regularly left completely unsupervised mixing and using chemicals in the very early stages of their training which could have had disastrous results. Does this even comply with health and safety legislation?
One particular student, an autistic young man, had his own story to tell. In his 1st year in motor mechanics they had a 2nd student that regularly blatantly defied health and safety, including swinging lengths of steel pipe around his head in a garage setting and holding a naked flame under a petrol tank, threatened other students and general bullying making other students miserable – despite the 1st student being twice the size of the 2nd, hewas still one of his regular targets. Students complaints were made on multiple occasions but very little appeared to be done and the 2nd student remained, continuing to bully and carry out activities that endangered fellow students. It wasn’t until parental complaints were made because of health and safety concerns that any action appeared to be taken.
Danny Wild, Principal at Harrogate College said “We take the wellbeing and safety of our students very seriously and an investigation is currently taking place following allegations made by a parent.”
Good to know they are investigating parent allegations but why were multiple students complaints ignored?
If you are a garage in the Harrogate area that is looking for an apprentice please let us know and we will pass your details on to this group of level 2 qualified mechanic students. If working through the summer to get their qualifications doesn't show dedication then I don't know what does!
Get in touch with us on 01423 228 500 or email us at email@example.com - you'll be making a student very happy - especially after 2 years of stress Harrogate College has put them through to get to here!
The original mechanics tutor for 2021/22 was an outstanding chap and amazing with all the students in the garage. In fact, he was so dedicated to his students that he drove in every day from Liverpool and the college paid him an additional fuel subsidy. Unfortunately, as the fuel prices crept up, Harrogate College refused to increase his fuel subsidy and eventually (and understandably) it became no longer viable for this tutor to travel all this way to do the work that he loved, and he had no option but to find work closer to home. The college took almost 4 months to replace him. During this time both the 1st and 2nd year students had virtually no garage experience whatsoever and spent considerable chunks of this time at home with no college work to do. Eventually a new tutor was found, however, the students had to work into their summer holiday to complete all their work in order to qualify for that year. This caused disruption and financial hardships to many, not just the students but also to the families that had to cancel holidays and other plans to accommodate this.
After viewing another students’ records, the replacement tutor had clearly made his opinion known that he didn’t think that student should progress onto year 2 but would need to repeat year 1. However, somehow that student was passed. It leads one to question the validity of all those that actually did not qualify that year.
During the mechanics course, again for 2022/23, the tutor went off sick for almost 3 months. Guess what …. Harrogate College did not find a cover tutor once again! This time, not only did they lose their garage experience, but they also lost everything for this time because they were told to not bother coming in at all for the most part of it !!! Not only that, but the students were also told not to send in any work for marking either as they didn’t have anyone to mark.
Once again, it seems this same group of students were completely failed by the institution that was supposed to be taking care of their education.
Danny Wild, Principal at Harrogate College said “The college, like so many others, has been impacted by the national shortage of specialist skilled teachers and as such, the Motor Vehicle department is working through the summer to ensure students get the support they need to complete and succeed in their programmes.
“Unfortunately, there was a brief disruption in January within this department due to staff sickness, and students have been offered this extra support should they need it.
"We have now increased our staffing in this area to ensure students are getting the best possible outcomes.”
Unfortunately, Danny Wild seems to have missed taking into account the tutor absences in December and parts of February. The extra staff he mentions aren’t helping the students at all or contributing to marking work that has been outstanding for 6-8 weeks to be marked and returned - some of which is needed for the assessment tests. According to some students, they aren’t getting these pieces returned marked that are assessment dependent up until the day before the test itself, leaving very little time to make any necessary amendments or corrections or learn where they may be going wrong. So we ask Danny Wild - where are the extra staff that are supposed to be helping the mechanics students?
Now don’t get me wrong, not all students are angels … but they do have the right to expect a good education that meets their needs. Or even at the very least, supply what it stated on the syllabus or list of offered teachings in the first place. So, where students see things that are wrong, surely it is right that they should be able to speak up? After all, is it not their future that is at stake? If the students feel that the college have failed and let them down, they must be able to tell their tutor without fear of reprisal or retaliation? Instead, the students were asked to write down statements of what they had seen or heard or felt was wrong. One particular autistic student wrote it as he saw it and raised a genuine safeguarding and wellbeing issue – this was referenced to the fact that the tutor had called the students both offensive and discriminatory names on multiple occasions (and not in jokey ways or as banter either). The response to this was to haul the ‘whistleblower’ up on a disciplinary charge because Harrogate College didn’t like one of the words he had used in his description of the tutor’s behaviour!
As you can appreciate, this student no longer trusts the College chain of command or staff and cannot even begin to fathom what he sees as a gross injustice. He feels he has been branded a troublemaker by one particular member of staff involved. A person who is targeted at any given opportunity just so that he knows he is being watched. After speaking in depth with this student he has told us of the overwhelming pressure he feels whenever this person is around. For example, this staff member has a habit of spotting people in the cafeteria that forget their lanyards. On multiple occasions he will see people without them, stop them and question them. However, he points out this particular student at the top of his voice attracting a lot of attention - a very different way to every other student. Any student would feel deliberately picked on in this situation, being pointed out in such a public manner when the staff member had been discrete with others only minutes earlier – let alone a student with autism.
This staff member regularly pops into the mechanics student’s classroom and asks how things are going but always seems to make a beeline for this same student to ask. This student has made staff aware he doesn’t want to talk to him because he stresses him out and makes him anxious which will then come out in a million and one different ways – all of which are under-laid with the thudding of his own heart in his ears, his pulse racing so fast as he desperately tries to act normal when all he wants to do is run away, hide, be anywhere but the here and now, but for the sake of appearances and normality he stays put and does his best to be what everyone else expects him to be which then increases his stress and anxiety further. All this pressure on himself just because of societal expectations … Following one recent incident, this even triggered the him to suffer an horrendous panic attack - his blood pressure shot up to 186/126 – extremely dangerous territory which could also have trig-gered a heart attack, stroke or even death.
We confirmed with other local colleges that run similar courses had completed all the examination pieces at least one month before college finished. Harrogate College is barely halfway through and whilst all other Harrogate College students have finished their courses for the year and are enjoying their summer, once again, the mechanics students are working into their summer holidays because the College just wasn’t able to organise itself.
Another inherent problem is that the students simply don’t trust what is being marked. For example, questions where the answer is a number that is either right or wrong – it cannot be both. However, two students put the same answer on an assess-ment – the first is marked correctly with an explanation of why it is correct. The second is marked incorrect and also given an explanation as to why it is wrong. Both were marked by the same tutor.
Mechanics students have said that to catchup tutors are spoon-feeding them answers for their work. One mechanics student has been quoted as saying “but what does that teach us?” and we have to readily agree – so, Harrogate College, when even the students are questioning the validity of what you are doing and questioning the achievement they will walk away with, how do you answer? It also makes you wonder that even if the answers are spoon-fed, judging from the marking standards will they all actually be marked as correct?
For most students, the college years are a time for learning and fun and growing yourself into more rounded adults. For the mechanics students all they’ve had for 2 years is panic and pressure and stress. What should have been fun times has turned into a nightmare and the likelihood that any of them will actually pass either the 1st or 2nd year of this course this year is slim … and for the ones that do pass, it will be questionable because of the methods used by the College in order to get them there.
Harrogate College is also part of Leeds City College and part of the Luminate Education Group.
So, it begs the question, if such failures to provide the relevant education properly within the required academic year 2 years running, as has happened with the mechanics course at Harrogate College, have similar things happened with other courses and in other educational establishments they are connected to …. If so, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no doubt in our mind …. Harrogate College have failed these particular students in their care … BIG TIME!
CALLING ALL GARAGES WITH APPRENTICESHIPS
If you are a local garage in the Harrogate area that is looking for an apprentice please let us know and we will pass your details on to this group of level 2 qualified mechanic students. If working through the summer to get their qualifications doesn't show dedication then I don't know what does!
Get in touch with Knaresborough Now on 01423 228 500 or email us at email@example.com - you'll be making a student very happy - especially after the 2 years of stress Harrogate College has put them through to get to here!
UPDATE : Since writing this article we've received several updates from the students and some of their parents.
It appears that whilst the students were expected to cancel their summer holiday plans in order to attend Harrogate College so that they could complete the mechanics level 2 course because the College failed to provide cover, the mechanics staff did not feel they should also apply this to themselves and continued with their own summer holiday plans. Somewhat hypocritical don't you think?
The students were told not to look for apprenticeships earlier this year because they were nowhere near finished on the course and were so far behind, so they followed the advice they were given. As a result, many school leavers and other level 1 and level 2 qualified student mechanics that finished their courses on time have now taken most of the apprenticeships that would normally have been around had the Harrogate College students finished on time. Unfortunately, now, apprenticeships are scarce on the ground and many of these students who have only qualified in the last week or so are now facing the fact that they may well have to find work in other areas until next near when more apprenticeships become available. How unfair is this?
We have spoken with several parents who are all very disappointed with Harrogate College over what they have put their teenage children through on the last 2 years of this mechanics course. Several have mentioned the worry and stresses they have caused the students and their families, students not to mention the strain on the mental health of the students. One parent is quoted as saying “It’s really upsetting and worrying to see my son suffer so much stress and frustration at the hands of the college when all he wants to do is learn and prepare for a successful career. It’s never a good thing to see your child upset and worried that they are not going to succeed, through no fault of their own, when they are making the effort and even trying to fill the learning gap as best they can in their own time – even if it is a fantastic thing for them to do. As someone involved in vocational training myself this is also very disappointing as everyone involved in this area should be doing all they can to help students achieve success and do whatever is necessary to achieve it.”
BBC Look North were originally looking to run with the story, however, due to the number of students affected and the fact that this is specific to Harrogate College (as far as we know) they have decided it is just too local for them to run. So I would ask you to share this article as far and wide as you can, especially if you know someone that is thinking of going to Harrogate College as they may just want to rethink their choices.
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