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Struggling women's college set August 2014 federation deadline
A women’s college in Surbiton has announced plans to form a partnership with another institution to improve educational standards.
Hillcroft College in South Bank was issued with an improvement notice by the SFA in March 2012, and received an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted in December.
Hillcroft wants to enter into a “federation” agreement with another college by August next year – whereby some services are shared but each institution keeps its separate identity.
The move comes after the college was told in May by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) – which contributes more than £1.5m a year to Hillcroft – that progress on student achievements has been “insufficient”, and sent in consultants to turn things around.
The college’s response has been to pursue a federation with an as yet unknown partner or partners, and will hold its first meeting on the proposal today (Friday).
Principal Michael Wheeler said: “This is good news for the college.
“We had a look at our strategical direction and made a proposal that we should enter into an appropriate federation arrangement by August 2014.
“We have no idea which federation model we need or have any particular organisation in mind, we are just at the beginning of the process.”
A monitoring visit by Ofsted in July this year has since found the college to be making “significant pro-gress” both in its improvement plan and in providing better opportunities to accredit learners’ skills.
Mr Wheeler said: “We are on an upward turn, albeit from a very low base.
“Our long course success rates have improved by almost 30 per cent, to the extent that they are better than some other residential colleges.”
Mr Wheeler also insisted the college would have considered a federation regardless of previous poor performance.
“The issue is one of size. We are a small organisation and even if it weren’t for any previous quality issues I would have said federation is the best way forward.
“We have to do the same things a large further education college would have to do, but we have a much smaller staff team.
“We looked at a whole range of different options and models and federation was the preferred option.”
The SFA has approved Hillcroft’s federation proposal, but has warned it will escalate its intervention to stage three – the highest level – if it does not see sufficient progress.
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