Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
First 'beacon' colleges announced
Park Lane College in Leeds has been praised by the government
Further education colleges have been given examples of the worst and best practice in their sector.
The government has given "beacon" status to 10 colleges for the first time, identifying 10 colleges as examples of high standards and effective management.
The beacon system, which has so far been used to develop good practice in schools, is intended to offer "examples of excellence" to help neighbouring schools and colleges to improve.
Along with the endorsement given to the beacon colleges, the Education Minister Baroness Blackstone has also "named and shamed" four colleges with serious weaknesses.
Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham has been accused of "ineffective management and governance" and "failure to account properly for public funds".
The colleges have been warned that their "problems need to be addressed with the utmost urgency".
The further education sector, which has suffered from a series of mismanagement scandals, is central to the government's plans to expand the numbers of students staying in education.
But as part of a £725m investment in further education, the government has been concerned to ensure that the money is not mis-spent or used by colleges with poor standards.
As such it has been pressing for higher standards and has taken a tougher stance on failing colleges, with Baroness Blackstone warning that she "will not tolerate unacceptable standards, or hesitate to intervene where colleges are failing their students and communities".
The 10 beacon colleges are: