The first annual report from the Further Education Funding Council's chief inspector, which involved the inspection of more than 100 colleges, has concluded that the sector is "dynamic, responsive and entrepreneurial".
The funding council has been at pains not to list colleges in the form of a league table in this report -- although one could be compiled from annexes at the end of the report.
The report has involved a grading of each of the council's ten programme areas on a scale of one to five. These range from exam results to the curriculum to management quality.
Inspectors observed more than 11,000 lessons involving 150,000 students. In 60 per cent of lessons the strengths outweighed weaknesses and in 8 per cent the weaknesses outweighed the strengths.
College recruitment, guidance and support systems were generally seen as good, but quality assurance arrangements were deemed inadequate in more than half of the colleges inspected. Chief inspector, Terry Melia, said: "The inspection framework is proving reliable and flexible enough to deal with different types of colleges."