From education to employment

Ofsted finds more than half of colleges are good or better at inspection

According to a report published by Ofsted today, over 60 per cent of colleges are now considered good or better at inspection. The number is up from just under 50 per cent from the first round of Ofsted inspections.

The report, How colleges improve: a review of effective practice, found a number of common features in those able to raise their standards between first (2001-05) and second (2005-09) Ofsted inspections. It identified that a clear vision and mission is central to improving learners’ skills and achievements.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: “It’s a promising sign that, overall, the further education sector is improving. Many of the case studies found in this review have shown ambitious vision and strong leadership to rapidly improve their standards between Ofsted inspections. I hope they are a source of inspiration to other colleges that still have a way to go in improving their performance.”

Colleges that performed better showed a drive to create a strong culture of continual improvement. Staff and learners of these establishments strive for excellence, rather than just settling for a ‘good’ rating. Across-the-board evaluation and monitoring also proved to be significant to success. Well-informed governors need to continually challenge managers, while ambitious yet realistic targets for pass rates, retention and attendance need to be set out.

Ofsted’s report also highlights several issues which appeared to hold back progress in those colleges which did not improve their performance over the two cycles of inspection.

Ms Gilbert continued: “It’s crucial, however, that we’re also aware of why some colleges haven’t been improving. This report also considers a number of case studies of colleges that have shown little progress, which helps us identify those factors that are impeding change as well as those that are fundamental to improvement.”

Colleges that have shown a lack of progress often lacked a long-term or coherent strategy, and poor management and governance also contributed to their negative marks. Ofsted also stressed that a lack of communication about strategic direction was at the heart of most weaknesses in under-performing colleges. Additionally, those colleges that struggled to meet higher standards often failed to critically review and refocus their curriculum to reflect the needs of students, or promote social inclusion.

Related Articles