James Watt College in Greenock rates a "good", according to the inspectors'
report issued last week - the first of the new-style college reviews. The new round of inspections is intended to usher in a "lighter touch" approach. While it continues the twin-pronged approach of looking at subject areas and cross-college provision, HMIE now awards grades in just three key areas - learning and teaching, learner progress and outcomes, and leadership.
Of the seven cross-college elements, James Watt scores "very good" on educational leadership and approaches to inclusion. Guidance, resources for students, staff, quality assurance and quality improvement were found to be good.
Of eight subject areas investigated in the two learning categories, which account for 60 per cent of the college's work, care, hospitality and special programmes were rated very good and the rest good - with the exception of student progress in computing and in music which were judged only fair.
The inspectors' report commends management for taking action where required and found that "significant interventions had improved the quality of the learner experience in a range of subjects".
HMIE commends Bill Wardle, the principal, for providing "thoughtful, measured and effective leadership". The management's strategic and operational planning was found to be effective and the results in student retention and achievement gave the college better results than the norms for the FE sector as a whole.
The new approach to inspections also includes "examples of sector-leading and innovative practice" in specific subjects and across the college. Among those highlighted are high-quality resources for the performing arts, digital imaging in hairdressing and a paper-free approach in care.