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College named country's best

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

By Fran McElhone

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EXETER College is celebrating after being named the top Further Education establishment in the country.

The college has been named Outstanding Provider of the Year and won the Outstanding Leadership of Learning and Skills award at the prestigious Times Educational Supplement (TES) Further Education Awards this month.

The college beat hundreds of other schools and colleges across the country in the competition, which recognises outstanding providers.

The Outstanding Provider of the Year award is awarded to an establishment that has demonstrated exceptional performance.

Meanwhile, the Outstanding Leadership in Learning and Skills award recognises the breadth and depth of leadership and management skills across a wide range of functions at the college.

"We're thrilled," said Richard Atkins college principal, agreeing that the award was the highest accolade possible after an "outstanding" year for the college.

"There isn't a more prestigious award for a Further Education establishment to win," he said.

Mr Atkins said he believed there were a number of factors which contributed to the college clinching the top spot, including being rated outstanding by Ofsted inspectors after the college volunteered for the Government's No Notice Ofsted pilot.

For the scheme staff at the college were given just 45 minutes notice in March that inspectors were visiting.

"Student success rate at the college is also very high," continued Mr Atkins. "We are in the top five per cent of sixth forms and colleges in the country.

"We've had a relentless focus on teaching and learning for many years, success doesn't happen over night, so this is the culmination of many years of hard work.

"So the awards are a reflection of the hard work of the staff and key stakeholders in the city and wider area.

"The TES is the iconic journal for schools and colleges so we're very flattered."

TES judges said: "If outstanding means maintaining the highest standards day in, day out, perhaps no college or training provider has been tested quite as thoroughly as Exeter College. It was particularly impressive that Ofsted gave Exeter the first outstanding grade for teaching and learning in a college for two and a half years.

"Like all overnight success, it was built on years of hard work, as the judges' decision to also give the college the Outstanding Leadership in Learning and Skills Award shows."

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