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FE providers in Wales failing to make the grade, inspectors warn

Only two post-16 education providers in Wales have gained top marks from the country’s inspectorate in the last three years, a new report reveals.

Of the 37 providers inspected by Estyn since it introduced its revised inspection framework in 2010 –  including ten FE colleges, 18 work-based learning providers and nine adult and community learning providers – just two have been rated excellent for their teaching.

Ann Keane (pictured), the chief inspector, published her annual report today. It says: “While there is some excellent practice in most providers, this is often not consistent. While there is a variable amount of good teaching, there is too much that is only adequate.”

An analysis of recommendations from inspections in the post-16 sector over the last three years shows a similar pattern, with teaching, assessment and support for literacy and numeracy among the most common concerns.

In the college sector, 40 per cent of providers were rated adequate and 60 per cent good, but none were rated excellent.

Phil Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, said that the ratings were not surprising considering the number of mergers that had taken place in recent years. There are currently 15 further-education institutions in Wales, compared to 25 in 2008.

“It may be that colleges have taken their eye off the ball because of the upheaval from the mergers,” said Dr Dixon. “Hopefully that will settle down now and maybe we will see a step change.”

In England, Ofsted has reported an improvement in the FE and skills sector in recent years.

In its latest annual report in December, Ofsted said that 71 per cent of providers were judged good or outstanding at their latest inspection as at 31 August 2013, an increase of seven percentage points compared with August 2012.

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