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Key findings;FE Focus

The four-strong inquiry team convened to look at the future of Bilston Community College was highly critical of the excesses that led to its collapse. Here are some of its main conclusions:

* "Many of the difficulties experienced have stemmed eitherdirectly or indirectly from the college's preoccupation with franchise-led growth, international work and the management and financial issues that emerged as a consequence. In a previous decade, the college had won a high reputation for its efforts to ameliorate the devastating effects of the closure of the local steelworks."

* "The all-embracing nature of the college's mission has led to the irony that, having expanded its provision of learning opportunities to all parts of the country and beyond, the college neglected the quality of provision on its own doorstep for the people of Bilston.

The attention of the teaching staff was taken up with business ventures and external activities to the detriment of providing good teaching and sound courses for students drawn from the local community."

* "The governing body lacked the sufficient expertise and business acumen to fulfil adequately its responsibilities for financial and strategic planning matters and its general oversight of the work of the college."

* "Propaganda, rhetoric and wishful thinking rather than hard facts, quantitative and qualitative performance indicators, analysis and common sense appeared to have underpinned crucial management decisions. The losers in this short-term and ill-conceived strategy were not only students and the local community but also many staff whose careers have been blighted."

* "We end on a note of hope. Adversity has brought out the best in the Wolverhampton political, business, education and training communities ... their vision may not only provide the way ahead for post 16-provision and training in Wolverhampton, it may also provide a template for other areas as they seek to deliver the Government's lifelong learning agenda."

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