27 November 2012
Association of Colleges’ Chief Executive, Martin Doel, said: “This annual report from Ofsted is clear that 65% of colleges, serving some 2.5 million students, are good or outstanding which, in the face of a challenging inspection framework, and the need to make efficiencies in the face of constrained funding is a solid achievement.
“The annual report no longer represents a ‘state of the nation’ view of provision, but rather a snapshot of inspections that are now triggered by a risk-based approach. By definition this is skewed towards more negative results. Despite this approach, it is heartening to see that of the 56 colleges inspected in the last round, 27 had improved or maintained their previous grade for overall effectiveness.
“Colleges do deliver the skills employers want and to criticise some for their range of provision risks missing several points: the interests and ambitions of students play a significant role in the choices they make; those choices are often determined by school information and guidance; the subjects people study are not the sole indicator of career path - we don’t expect young people who have undertaken a GCSE in Geography to go on and have a career in geography.
“Moreover, some 220,000 unemployed people undertake education and training in Colleges and 74% of employers see 17 to 18-year-old College leavers as better prepared for work that school leavers of the same age (66%).
“But, there are, without doubt, difficult messages in the annual report this year. Every AoC college is committed to doing the best it can for its students and is committed to achieving continuous improvement. Colleges are delivering what government has asked of them and we are interested to discuss how College performance might be better reflected in a wider basket of measures. But if the goalposts are being shifted by Ofsted, we at least need to know the rules of the new game.
“A fair and transparent inspection regime makes an important contribution to this process. I continue to be concerned that there is too little data in inspection reports to provide this transparency, or the information that is required by colleges, parents, employers and potential students. We have further concerns about the relevant experience of some Ofsted inspectors and that the inspections do not give a true reflection of the whole of a College's provision.
“Colleges which have been inspected must be able to see themselves in the mirror of an Ofsted report and respect its judgements; in this way they can learn from the inspection regime which, we must remember, should be constructed to drive improvement.”