Rise in the rate of quality teaching
Ofsted said the overall quality of teaching was "notably better" last year than in 2003-4, with 58 of the 94 colleges rated as good.
The latest figure shows a marked improvement on the previous year, when 13 colleges were seen as inadequate, a failure rate described by chief inspector David Bell as "a national disgrace."
In his annual report, he said that during the four-year inspection cycle beginning in September 2001, 41 colleges were inadequate, but 21 had improved sufficiently on re-inspection to be removed from this category.
Eleven inadequate general FE colleges were re-inspected last year and all are now at least adequate.
He added: "Colleges have been able to remedy deficiencies identified by inspection once they have identified them. The leadership and management of the majority of colleges inspected was good or better. Far fewer had unsatisfactory leadership than the colleges inspected three years ago."
He cited improvements in quality assurance and self-assessment, but said, in a small minority, "the self-assessment and evaluation of teaching and learning were over-generous, lacking sufficient analysis and plans for improvement".
He praised the commitment to education and social inclusion, saying it was "often outstanding" but also cited "pockets of weak provision" including construction, information technology, visual and performing arts, media, and foundation-level courses. A third of work-based learning was unsatisfactory, and was especially weak in construction engineering, hairdressing and beauty therapy.
Six colleges were rated outstanding last year, compared with four in 2003-4. Tower Hamlets and City and Islington colleges, in London, and South Downs college in Hampshire joined three high-achieving northern colleges:Liverpool community, Runshaw, and Nelson and Colne colleges.
The four colleges judged inadequate were: Newark and Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, North East Surrey college of technology, Leeds college of technology and Leeds college of music.