THE Conservative candidate Matty Jackman has slammed Kendal College over its latest 'requires improvement' OFSTED rating, with his comments prompting criticism from MP Tim Farron.

Matty Jackman is the Conservative candidate for the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat, which is currently occupied by Liberal Democrat Tim Farron. 

Kendal College was inspected for the first time by OFSTED inspectors since 2017 between October 10 to 13. The critical report said: "Too many learners and apprentices do not receive a high-quality education."

Mr Jackman said: "The most recent Ofsted report for Kendal College was on December 3, 2023, and was subsequently reported in The Westmorland Gazette. Of the ten areas inspected, five were rated as 'good', while the other five 'required improvement'. In the previous 2011 report, the College was rated as 'Outstanding'. So what has happened?

"I note that in the past six weeks, the Principal & CEO of Kendal College has not responded with any assurance of actions being taken to improve the standards of their college."

"The current MP is surely concerned about the situation, as it affects the young people we are all keen to support. He often mentions that Kendal has a reputation for 'excellent' education, but now our College is failing to meet the expectations of our school leavers. In short, he has questions to ask about the decline of our College."

"Let's all come together, Kendalians, and make a big effort to help the College restore its standards. Kendal has, over many decades, built a reputation that mandates excellent education. We must preserve this reputation."

"I am seeking a meeting with College leaders at their earliest convenience to discuss the path forward. I have already written to the College and am eager to collaborate with them."

The South Lakes MP Tim Farron gave a critical reply to his comments: "I'm immensely proud of the fantastic hard work of students, teachers and staff at Kendal College.

"So it's very disappointing to see their dedication and hard work undermined by the Conservative candidate.

"Rather than contacting our local newspaper to make unfair and unhelpful criticisms of our brilliant local college, I would just encourage him to reflect on his own party's failure to support further education.

"Meanwhile I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with the college as they strive to give our young people the skills, training and experience to succeed in life."

The vice principal of Kendal College said that he was 'not aware of an approach from Mr Jackman.' Richard Evans continued: "Since the inspection we have collaborated with several other colleges and Schools where we have been sharing best practices and have worked with the Association of Colleges who are providing support to us as we seek to improve our Ofsted grading." 

He said that the college has developed an action plan and that the college has recently advertised for teaching and learning leader posts to 'develop the quality of our provision.'