The principal of a "financially weak" college that has gained top-quality grades from Ofsted inspectors has warned that excellence in further education will be impossible without significantly better funding.
West Cheshire College scored a "good" grade 2 in leadership and management and seven other areas, despite being classified as financially "failing" by the Learning and Skills Council. It is one of just four colleges to have been inspected so far to gain such a grade for management, and the only one to receive grades that are all above the "satisfactory" level.
But college principal Sara Mogel is worried the government will make the mistake of concluding from this that high quality is possible without more money.
She points out that her college is struggling with no reserves, and has managed to survive and produce good results only through the commitment of staff.
She said: "It's an exceptionally difficult task to maintain or raise standards when you have no money to invest in it. Our only advantage has been our hard working and dedicated staff.
"We may have proved that if you are determined enough, you can get some good results. But colleges will never manage to become excellent unless they start to get proper financial backing."