Government says sorry to college

A Dorset college that was wrongly labelled as under-performing in official statistics has won an apology.

Kingston Maurward College, in Dorchester, was ordered to improve in May having apparently fallen below the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) new minimum standards for key stage five.

The land-based college, according to the Department for Education (DfE), failed to get at least 40 per cent of students to achieve an average point score per entry higher than 194 for academic qualifications or 172 for vocational qualifications in the 2011/12 academic year.

Figures, now known to have been incorrect and since removed, indicated the 4,000-learner college hit a figure of just 12 per cent of learners — 18 out of 153 of those eligible.

The problem with the figures came to light after they had been reported, in good faith and based on official information, in FE Week.

“We were very shocked to see our college mentioned in the report as this bore no resemblance to our own data sets,” said a spokesperson for the college, which has a £4.6m EFA allocation for the current academic year along with one of £2.1m from the Skills Funding Agency.

“We have now received an update and an apology from the DfE confirming that there was a major error in the data published on its website.”

The error came from data supplied to the DfE by City & Guilds, where a spokesperson said: “In 2012 we supplied some incomplete candidate performance data for Kingston Maurward to the processing company for the DfE performance tables.

“Although we alerted the relevant department and processing organisation prior to the publication of performance tables, it was too late to correct the data.

“While this has not impacted any learners, this error has made it seem as if Kingston Maurward has not met the Education Funding Agency’s minimum standards for key stage five.

“As a global leader in skills education, we are committed to providing the highest quality of services to our customers.

“Unfortunately, on this occasion we haven’t met our own high standards and we are working with DfE and Ofsted to put things right.

“We remain committed to continually improving our processes and working with our customers to check their data to avoid this sort of situation in the future.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “As soon as we were aware of this error, we immediately removed the minimum standards measure from the college and have written to them to apologise for any distress caused.

“As a matter of course we do offer all schools and colleges a two-week period to check our results data before publication.

“All schools then have a further six weeks, once the results are published, to make any amendments. We would always encourage schools to use this opportunity to check this data and alert us to any errors.”

Kingston Maurward assistant principal Andy Daw (pictured above) said: “We are very pleased that the success of our students has now been recognised. The DfE has confirmed that our entry on the minimum standards table was inaccurate.

“We understand that all merit, distinction and distinction star grades of our level three students had been incorrectly registered as pass grades, therefore not recognising their achievements and considerably lowering the college’s overall position.

“Although City & Guilds has now supplied the correct data, the DfE will not be publishing this on its website, so there will be no entry for Kingston Maurward College for 2011/12.”