Funding chiefs act on Kilmarnock 'shortcomings'

19th May 2006 at 01:00
Kilmarnock College has "considerable work to do to address significant shortcomings", the chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council has said following a critical HMIE report.

In the new style of inspections, the report stated that "HMIE is not confident learners are progressing well and achieving appropriate outcomes"

and it is also "not confident that the college is managing well and improving the quality of its services for learners".

This is the first time the inspectorate has issued such "not confident"

judgments of a college. Kilmarnock's educational leadership, direction and management, under Mick Roebuck, the principal, was rated only "fair".

Inspectors awarded three other fair grades to cross-college elements (staff, quality assurance and quality improvement) and three which were judged good (accessinclusion, guidancesupport and resourcesservices to support students).

Roger McClure, the funding council's chief executive, said the shortcomings would now have to be tackled in an action plan, and the council and HMIE would then decide what level of follow-up would be necessary.

There was some relief for the college in the judgments by inspectors of the eight subject areas they scrutinised: learning and teaching processes in all of them were rated good. Most learners were said to be "well-motivated, engaged in their learning and made good use of opportunities to reflect on their learning".

But student progress was regarded as good in only three subjects and fair in the other five. Most full-time FE programmes had low attainment levels, and inspectors found evidence of "erratic" attendance and high drop-out rates (although there were signs of recent success in improving retention levels).

HMIE went on to state: "There were no effective strategies in place within subject areas to resolve issues of poor attendance, retention and attainment. In most subject areas, arrangements for staff to share good practice were not systematic."

The report said the principal and board of management had a "clear high-level vision for the college" which was familiar to all staff. But, it added, "there was insufficient corporate leadership, co-ordination, planning or evaluation of key aspects of college activities and developments.

Inspectors also handed out criticisms for the college's handling of some staffing issues. These were mainly in the areas of appointments procedures, disclosure checks and support for newly appointed staff.

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