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The "Further Education Matters" report on the first four year cycle of Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) college inspections has found that the inspections have been broadly successful. In the second installment of this two "“ part series, FE News reporter Sara Hashash looks at the findings and the future.

Improvements to be Made

Despite the increase in quality of education there is still much to improve, particularly in the area of effective leadership and management. Although the number of inadequate colleges has dramatically decreased, there still exists a minority of poorly managed colleges with below-average standards and poor self assessment.

More work also needs to be done to develop the vocational curriculum for post 16 year olds as it is still too complex to produce effective results, with students facing either too much or too little choice of options. Colleges have also experienced some difficulty in attracting qualified staff to teaching roles at FE colleges, as many of them had not received sufficient training.

Complex Funding Hurdle

Another obstacle to improvement has been the excessive complexity of funding arrangements. There has also been some confusion as a result of the absence of a definition of the term "quality assurance", and an excess of bureaucracy causing confusion about the coordination of various duties and responsibilities within the sector.

Finally, the report identified an unusually high level of inadequacy in independent specialist colleges, arguing that these have not had the capacity to attain the required standards of teaching and self assessment.

Simplification

The report recommends that the inspectorates, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) should continue to implement the methods already proving successful and to assess FE colleges in relation to their contribution to their local community and area. The need for simplifying the bureaucracy involved with college funding and providing further support for learners aged 14 -16 was also made clear.

The DfES has been advised to clarify the specific roles and responsibilities of each element within the structure of bodies accountable. The sector as a whole however needs to make clearer precisely what is intended by the term "quality" in order to achieve this and continue to improvement standards in order to attain higher rates of overall success.

Sara Hashash

Part one of this series is available right here at FE News

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