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HMI gives a lift to debt-hit Perth

PERTH College is effectively led and students well taught but their success rates vary considerably. These are among the conclusions of an HMI report which also commends the college for serving its local community well and establishing good links with other agencies. There was positive feedback from students and employers.

Eighty-seven per cent of the 105 lessons seen by inspectors were very good or good. Nine specialist areas were scrutinised, which represent more than 65 per cent of the college's work.

The college also passes the test set by the management review of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council that college boards and senior management should communicate clearly and understand the differences between their respective roles - the former to set strategic direction and the latter to take opeational charge.

Perth is one of the colleges which has had to prepare a financial recovery plan, including cutbacks, of which HMI found the staff were "mostly supportive". But the report also notes: "Communication between board members and staff was less well developed than desired by either group."

The Inspectorate was also glad to see "specific and measurable targets" for judging how well Perth is doing in relation to student activity, costs and student achievement. But more has to be done to develop targets to assess quality in areas such as staff development, learning and teaching and information and communications technology.

HMI also noted variations in student achievement, with success rates in part-time programmes judged as good while those in full-time FE courses were generally low.

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