Glasgow School of Art wins safety reappraisal

July 26, 1996

Glasgow School of Art has won a bid to have its teaching quality reassessed by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council after a fight lasting almost a year.

Last August, the SHEFC gave the school a "satisfactory" rating in a review of fine art, printmaking, sculpture and painting, but the school strongly challenged criticisms of health and safety.

The SHEFC has decided to carry out a reassessment of this area, the first time it has done so, and the original report has been suspended pending the outcome. A new visit to the college by a different team of assessors is expected in the autumn.

The report said the assessment team was concerned about several health and safety issues, including "unguarded machinery, dust-laden air and communicating areas without illuminated exit signs".

The SHEFC says its own review of the report has concluded that the comments "could not be unequivocally sustained", and it has shouldered the blame, saying this was the result "of the council having provided insufficiently precise guidance to assessors for the consideration of health and safety matters".

Dugald Cameron, the school's director, said: "We are very glad that they have decided to have this reassessment." The school took health and safety extremely seriously, and had been very unhappy about the comments in the report. "We could not find any justification for them," he said.

The criticisms were of the school's "teaching and learning environment", one of 11 aspects assessed by the SHEFC. The school has now announced how it fared on all 11 points in the disputed report, winning four "excellents", four "highly satisfactories" and two "satisfactories". Only the teaching and learning environment was rated unsatisfactory.

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