What the inspectors saw
In his summary of the report into standards and quality in further education, Douglas Osler, the senior chief inspector, states: "The overall picture in this report is encouraging and it highlights examples of good quality provision. College provision reflects the needs of students and local employers. National standards are secure. Teachers use a wide range of methods, including innovative approaches. Staff and students work well together. Staff have good qualifications and relevant vocational experience. There has been steady improvement in the quality of the physical environment in colleges. The report also shows that college leaders and their boards of management have responded effectively to the challenge of incorporation.
"Encouraging though the overall picture is, colleges do need to address some important weaknesses. They should evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching and ensure that curriculum materials are of a high standard. Pre-exit guidance, and guidance for part-time students, needs to be improved. The arrangements colleges make for quality assurance should be consolidated, giving particular attention to performance indicators related to student achievement and to the quality of learning and teaching. Some colleges need to extend and step up the pace of introducing performance appraisal."
What the customers say: * 75 per cent of students who responded to surveys tracking post-course success had got a job or gone on to higher education; * 70 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with the information and guidance they received; * 80 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with their courses and teaching; * 90 per cent of employers were satisfied or very satisfied with services from college.