'Worst' college wins inspectors praise

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
A COLLEGE once branded "the worst run in England" has made radical improvements, according to inspectors.

Hereward College, in Coventry, is the only one of its kind to meet the needs of students from all over Britain with often very severe physical and sensory disabilities, as well as local non-disabled students.

In September 1995 it became the first college to receive a 5 for governance - the lowest possible grade. It also got a 4 for student recruitment, guidance and support, quality assurance, accommodation, and its residential education programme. It was in debt, had only just discovered the fact, and the fraud squad was called in to investigate the alleged misuse of European funds.

New management was installed and the recovery began.

Now a re-inspection has found that all aspects of the college have improved.

Art and design is outstanding. Facilities and resources for learning are good, and those in information technology outstanding.

The proportion of lessons judged to be good or outstanding was above te average for colleges inspected in 1998-99.

"Senior managers have led the recovery of the college from an earlier state of major financial and management weakness. There is now a clear management structure and good communication between staff and management. The governors have overseen the recovery of the college and adopted sound policies for probity, openness and accountability."

Financial planning was effective and information systems were impressive, said inspectors.

The college said it had introduced new programmes and support services for students, especially for those with complex learning needs, and had achieved growth of over 650 per cent in the funding it receives for its non-residential provision.

Michael Shattock, chair of governors, said: "The inspection report records how far and how fast the college has travelled since the dark days of 1995. It represents an enormous tribute to the principal and the staff, who have restored the college so that it can now match the ambitions of its founders."

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