Inspection upper for Downs college

25th February 2005 at 00:00
A college in the south of England has been awarded the best set of inspection grades so far received by a general further education institution.

South Downs college has become the first of its kind to be rated outstanding or good in all curriculum areas, a feat previously achieved only by three tertiary colleges.

The college, in Waterlooville, Hampshire, is also rated outstanding for leadership and management, social inclusion, and student guidance and support.

It is the second general FE college to be rated outstanding in a week. City and Islington college in London also won the accolade in a report published today.

Both colleges buck a trend highlighted by David Bell, the chief inspector at the Office for Standards in Education, who last year said colleges in the South tend to struggle in comparison to their northern counterparts.

Michael Oates, principal at South Downs, said: "We have a culture of achievement here that does go against the trend. We don't have any problems attracting teachers because we pay them above the going rate, and in return they go the extra mile for the students."

He added: "The college is next to Leigh Park, the largest housing estate in Europe, but we are a comprehensive college. We have a lot of students with learning difficulties who are at entry level."

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