The world-class agricultural college where 'attendance is low and students don't recognise basic horseshoes'

Examples of the kind of colourful plants and flowers on display at Plant World Garden Centre
Examples of the kind of colourful plants and flowers on display at Plant World at Myerscough College -Credit:Myerscough College/Facebook

A watchdog has highlighted poor attendance and a lack of ambition at one of the UK's leading land-based colleges.

Ofsted inspectors visited Myerscough College's sites, including its headquarters at Bilsborrow near Preston, last November and has recently published its findings. The college, founded in 1894, offers a range of practical, land-based and engineering courses including arboriculture, agriculture, ecology, countryside management, motorsports, mechanisation, sports and leisure, golf, landscape design, animal care, equine studies, photography, and farriery/metalwork.

The inspectors found that "student attendance across many programmes for young people and adult access to higher education courses is too low". They also noted that students are not encouraged to be as ambitious as they could be. this results in all students completing basic qualifications rather than fulfilling their potential.


The inspection report states: "Students on education programmes for young people do not benefit from ambitious curriculums. Teachers do not consider information that they receive on what students already know and can do, or their intended destinations, when planning curriculums."

Ofsted has published a list of suggested improvements including implementing steps to ensure attendance, feeding back more to students so they are aware of what they need to do to achieve better and carrying out more checks on students' work.

Myerscough College
Myerscough College -Credit:Google Street View

The inspectors said: "Most teachers do not use information gathered on students with high needs or young peoples’ starting points to effectively plan their lessons. Students on the level 3 rugby academy programme are over supported and rely heavily on ‘help’ sheets that are too prescriptive.

"Level 3 equine students research the range of advanced horseshoes without gaining sufficient knowledge of recognising basic horseshoes."

Despite the areas of room for improvement inspectors praised Myerscough for investing in industry standard technology and extracurricular activities. These include allowing students to attend high profile international events and forge links with industry leaders.

The inspectors said: "Staff ensure that students participate in competitions, projects and sporting events. Motorsport students attend rally clubs and landscape apprentices compete in world skills competitions. Sports students officiate at high-profile events, both nationally and internationally, which include basketball and rugby competitions.

"Students initiate and nurture relationships with sector professionals and develop industry specific skills that prepare them well for their next steps."

Myerscough provides education programmes for 1,771 young people who study vocational programmes from entry level to level 3. Leaders also provide training for young people at Ullswater Community College in agriculture, animal management and animal care while the Croxteth, Blackburn and Warrington sites provide programmes in animal management and animal care.

Inspectors praised the college for improving students' attitudes and resilience. They noted: "Most students and apprentices improve their confidence and resilience because of the training they receive.

"For example, sports students on basketball and rugby academy programmes learn how to deal effectively with the setbacks they may experience in becoming professional sportspeople.