Look to peers in the bad times

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
As a principal of a college that has endured being judged inadequate, experienced two years of monitoring and then been reinspected at much the same time as Paul Harvey and his colleagues at Hertford regional college, I know only too well what it feels like (FE Focus, "Sweet ring of success", October 8).

Colleges in this situation do need help, but not from the inspectorate; that's not really its job.

Inspectors are there to make judgments and need to keep a distance between themselves and the colleges they are inspecting.

More should be done by the sector to help its own. I joined my college when a year had gone by since the last inspection and not enough progress had been made. It amazed me that, in spite of the fact that we were not in the first wave of colleges to come to grief, the sector hadn't developed its own response mechanism. There were plenty of times when a stiff drink and a peer group would have helped.

The number of colleges judged inadequate is not helping the sector's image and this is where the Association of Colleges should be active, amassing learning and helping colleges along the curve. And Paul Harvey is absolutely right about the problems that follow reinspection as a result of the inward focus it imposes.

As for us, "we done great". We found lots of sources of help, but our experience is not being passed on and I fear others will be left to find their own way.

Greg Molan


Shrewsbury college of art technology. London Road Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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