Harlow College has celebrated the highest general FE college qualification success rate in England for the second year running.

The Essex college achieved an all-age and all-duration success rate of 94 per cent for the year ending July 2012, meaning 10,171 qualifications were achieved out of 10,820 starts.

Principal Colin Hindmarch, who retires this week, said: “We have attained this through the dedication, hard work and unremitting resolve of our staff to ensure the outstanding success of all our students.

“We are well on track to achieve an even higher success rate for 2012/13 though there is, of course, much hard work to be done to ensure our students are successful.”

The college’s success rate was down 0.1 per cent from last year, but the number of starts had grown by just over half from 7,190, according to National Success Rate Tables published by the Data Service.

In second place was Highbury College, Portsmouth, with 93.6 per cent, followed by Runshaw College Lancashire, with 92.9
per cent.

However, for the 16 to 18 age group taking long courses, Harlow lost its 2010/11 top spot to Runshaw, which had 93.6 per cent success rate out of 10,890 starts in this group.

Runshaw spokesperson Tim Kayhill said that students would always be the college’s priority. “If you make students happy and dream big then the Ofsted results and table results will follow on from that,” he said.

Highbury College with 92.1 per cent and Farnborough with 91.8 per cent had the second and third slots, while Harlow came in at number four.

At the other end of the scale. Southwark College in London has the lowest success rates for 16 to 18 long courses, at just 66.9 per cent with 960 starters.

Southwark has since merged with Lewisham College to form LeSoCo, where a spokesperson declined to comment.

However, across all types and length of course, Southwark went up one place from its position at the bottom of the table in 2010/11, lifting its success rate of 65.8 per cent to 75.4 per cent last year.

Bottom place was taken by Hartlepool College, which had a success rate of 73.7 per cent.

A Hartlepool spokesperson said the result was a “blip” that it was “determined to reverse”.

“We are confident that outcome levels this year will return to the previously good performance evident up to 2012,” he said.

The spokesperson added that 2011/12 had been demanding with many changes for the college, as had been acknowledged by Ofsted and the college’s self-assessment report.

In its most recent Ofsted inspection in February the college was awarded an overall grade three — requires improvement — with inadequate for learner outcomes.

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