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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK


Education

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.


[ image: Bishop Burton agricultural college has been applauded for its high standards]
Bishop Burton agricultural college has been applauded for its high standards
Ealing Tertiary College in West London has been condemned for poor attendance and achievement;, Isle of Wight College had "serious shortcomings in governance" and West Cumbria College in Workington was criticised for its standards of teaching.

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:

  • Lewisham College, which was praised for its strong commitment to local economic regeneration and widening participation.

  • Park Lane College, Leeds, is praised for high quality services and management in an area of social deprivation.

  • Knowsley Community College is praised for "outstanding management and high levels of achievement" and setting "tough but realistic targets".

  • Blackpool and the Fylde College has an international reputation for courses in Maritime Operations and Engineering.

  • Havering College has "a strong commitment to continuing excellence in all aspects of its provision".

  • Greenhead Sixth Form College, Huddersfield, is praised as a "centre of excellence" serving a population with a high proportion of ethnic minorities.

  • John Leggott Sixth Form College, Scunthorpe, has "received one of the best ever Further Education Funding Council inspection reports".

  • Carmel Sixth Form College, St Helens, is praised for its science, geography and history.

  • St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, London, has encouraged "high expectations" and "excellent examination results" among students.

  • Bishop Burton College, East Yorkshire, is noted for the exceptional quality of its agricultural courses as well as outstanding student support.



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