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College performance improving, Ofsted reveals

Colleges can expect better news in Ofsted's annual report, with more graded 'outstanding' and 'good' in 2017-18

The number of FE and skills providers Ofsted inspected in 2017/18 that it graded good was up 8 percentage points

Colleges can expect better news in Ofsted's annual report, with more graded 'outstanding' and 'good' in 2017-18

The proportion of FE colleges rated "good" or "outstanding" in 2017-18 increased by half compared with the previous year, new Ofsted figures reveal.

Of the 64 general FE colleges inspected in 2017-18, 69 per cent received one of the top two grades – up from 46 per cent in 2016-17.

Some 28 per cent were graded "requires improvement", down from 46 per cent in 2016-17, with the proportion rated "inadequate" dropping from 6 per cent to 2 per cent 

Just 3 per cent were found to be "inadequate" in 2017-18, down from 7 per cent in 2016-17.

Overall, looking at all FE colleges' most recent inspections, as of 31 August there were 19 "outstanding" FE colleges (14 per cent of the total), 87 "good" (62 per cent) and 34 "requiring improvement (24 per cent).

This marks a significant improvement from 2016-17, when 13 per cent of GFE colleges were rated "outstanding", 56 per cent "good", 29 per cent "required improvement" and 2 per cent* "inadequate".

This bodes well for colleges in terms of Ofsted's annual report, expected to be published in December. The 2016-17 annual report revealed that the proportion of FE colleges rated "good" or "outstanding" had dropped from the previous year.

Ofsted findings

  • Overall, the proportion of FE and skills providers graded "good" or "outstanding" increased by 7 percentage points, from 63 per cent in 2016-17 to 70 per cent to 2017-18.
  • The proportion of "good" or "outstanding" sixth-form colleges that the inspectorate found was also up 5 percentage points from 63 in 2016-17 to 68 in 2017-18.
  • The proportion of independent training providers that inspectors deemed "good" or "outstanding" was up 6 percentage points, from 58 per cent in 2016-17 to 64 per cent in 2017-18.
  • Broken down to employer providers alone, the proportion rated "good" or "outstanding" was up 12 percentage points, from 57 per cent in 2016-17 to 69 per cent in 2017-18.

Colleges 'on the front line of under-investment'

David Corke, director of policy at the Association of Colleges, said it was great to see that so many colleges have been ranked "good" or "outstanding".

He added: “Colleges are outstanding representatives of the excellent work happening across the country.

“They provide high-quality technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers, despite the fact colleges are on the front line of under-investment. They are critical to delivering the solutions.”

Deepa Jethwa, policy officer at the Sixth Form Colleges Association said: "Once again, sixth form colleges have continued to deliver high-quality provision with 81 per cent of colleges judged as good or outstanding. To maintain and improve performance, it is essential for colleges to be funded adequately to ensure students receive an enriched and rounded education."

    *When two or more colleges merge, they are treated as new providers, and so their previous inspections are not included in the overall Ofsted figures.

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