Inspectors' praise 'like four lottery wins in a row'

24th September 2004 at 01:00
A college specialising in education and training for the hospitality industry is celebrating winning seven grade one "outstanding" ratings in an inspection report.

Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies was rated outstanding in its four main curriculum areas.

It received additional top grades for leadership and management, student support, and for its inclusion policies.

Eddie MacIntyre, the college's principal for 22 years, expressed jubilation at the inspectors' verdict. He said: "It is like winning the lottery four weeks in a row."

He calculated that only 2.76 per cent of assessment grades contained in 286 Office for Standards in Education reports of further education providers were at grade one.

"For this college to achieve 100 per cent grade ones is an unbelievable result," he said. "It's a bit like when Manchester United won the treble.

We are over the moon.

"At our last inspection in 1996 we got the best report then, and we have managed to keep the quality going.

"It is great for our students' career prospects, because the industry knows they come from a college that gets nothing but the top grades."

The college is a higher education institution with FE representing 40 per cent of its provision.

The report stated: "Many learners enter the college with low levels of prior attainment and make very good progress. Almost two-thirds of students are from some of the most economically deprived wards in the country."

Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology, the largest general FE college in Shropshire, is also celebrating after being upgraded from inadequate to satisfactory by inspectors.

Its principal, Greg Molan, said the new verdict will lift the gloom that has overshadowed the college for two years since the previous scathing inspection.

"It is such a big deal for an organisation to be labelled a failure," he said. "It was obvious when I came to the place in March last year that people felt badly about it. It rankled a lot.

"We had to put a hell of a lot of work and training into teaching and learning. It was about putting processes in place to nail down quality. We had to be very disciplined and hard on ourselves."

He also said that links with a beacon college, Barnfield in Luton, "worked brilliantly for us".

Mr Molan added: "They really helped us and we learned a lot from them."

His predecessor, Professor Stephen Bristow, departed following the 2002 inspection in a wholesale shake-up of the senior management team.

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