Record results for level 3 qualifications have helped further education colleges to a fourth year of improved exam performance, it emerged this week.
The average points achieved by students studying at level 3 stood at 584 (equivalent to achieving around two A grades at A level) according to the 2009 figures from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. This is up by nearly 6 per cent on the 2006 average, although the figure is virtually unchanged from 2008 (581).
The improvement at some colleges was significantly greater. Leeds College of Building (LCB) saw its average points score per student jump from 584 last year to 764 this year, a 31 per cent rise that put it second only to Newcastle College (807 points) using this measure.
LCB is the only specialist construction college in the country and offers level 3 diplomas and BTEC Nationals rather than A-levels. Principal Ian Billyard said: "These results are outstanding and demonstrate the calibre of the staff and the continued hard work of all involved."
Bev Robinson, principal of Newcastle College, said: "We are delighted with today's announcement. This is a testament to the hard work of staff and students at the college and I congratulate them on this fantastic success."
Craven College in Skipton recorded the ninth highest points per student score at 703, up from 584 in 2007 and 660 in 2008, rises of 20 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Alan Blackwell, principal of the college, said that it had introduced a new quality assurance system in 2006. He said: "In a district with a selective school system, Craven College prides itself on being able to offer all students a chance to excel."
Hackney College welcomed its steady improvement, which has seen the average score per student rise by 15 per cent from 458 in 2006 to 527 last year.
Hackney's principal Ian Ashman said: "Our grades are all the more impressive if you consider the wide range of previous achievement - we are particularly proud of our ability to add value."
Kensington and Chelsea College recorded an average of 278 points per student, down by 24 per cent on last year's average of 366 points. Amanda Hayes, vice-principal of the college, said it only offered A-levels in modern foreign languages and students, many of whom are still at school, tend to study one subject which limits the maximum points possible. In 200809 the college recorded a 100 per cent achievement in A and AS levels.
Joy Mercer, quality manager at the Association of Colleges, welcomed the results achieved by many FE students lacking the level of prior attainment seen in many selective schools. "These results are particularly pleasing as they demonstrate the distance travelled by a large number of our students," she said.
The top performing sixth form college in terms of average points per student was the Cardinal Newman College, in Preston, with 1,106 points. It was followed closely by Winstanley College, in nearby Wigan, on 1,098 points.
- A full table of college performance is available on the right for download. The table was compiled by FE Focus using officialDCSF data.