A FURTHER seven colleges have achieved accredited status and will each receive pound;50,000 to help them share good practice with others in the sector.
The successful colleges are: Braintree, Essex; Carmel, Merseyside; Hartlepool; Northern College for Adult Residential Education, in Barnsley; North Hertfordshire; Tameside, Greater Manchester; and Woodhouse, Finchley, London.
So far, 19 colleges have received accredited status, as part of the Further Education Funding Council's quality improvement strategy.
They must show that they have effective quality assurance arrangements, rigorous self-assessment, are reaching performance targets, improving student achievement and can demonstrate accountability.
David Melville, FEFC chief executive, said: "The criteria for accreditation are demanding, and they provide a real incentive for colleges to raise standards. These colleges are exemplars of the high standards which represent the very best of the further education sector.
"As part of their agreement with the council, these accredited colleges will be expected to share their good practice with other colleges and support the vital drive to raise standards across the sector as a whole, he said.
One of the winners, Woodhouse, is a small sixth-form college in north Finchley, specialising in A-levels and GNVQ Advanced and Intermediate in Business Studies. Forty-eight per cent of students come from minority ethnic groups.
Of the 400 students who sit A-levels each year, more than 200 achieve an average UCAS points score of 25 - the equivalent of three grade Bs.
"We pride ourselves on high academic achievement, but equally on providing a learning community where every individual is valued and encouraged to reach their own personal best," said principal Ann Robinson.
Carmel College, in Merseyside, regards accreditation as the sector's equivalent of an Olympic gold medal.
But it is not just a "pat on the back", said principal Peter Rushton.
"The FEFC are satisfied that Carmel's own quality assurance and self assessment systems are so rigorous that future inspections will have a much lighter touch - the college will be able to take over most of the inspecting itself.
"This is the icing on the cake since it should give all staff the opportunity to concentrate on what they do best - providing outstanding service to the students of this area."