QAA rejects Bradford College appeal

October 25, 2002

Bradford College has abandoned its protest about receiving the worst-ever teaching quality inspection grades.

The Quality Assurance Agency proceeded with the publication of its report on education courses at the college this week, after rejecting an appeal from Bradford heads.

Bradford has one of the country's largest further and higher education colleges. With the exception of its initial teacher training, its education courses were awarded two grade 1s and a total score of 13 out of 24.

The report says that the college's education provision needs "urgent improvement" and will have to be re-inspected within a year.

This week, Bradford's academic directors, who have not yet seen the report, said their concerns about the review remained, but they had decided it would not be productive to protest further.

"The grades that have been assigned are not consistent with the grades assigned in other reviews and inspections of the college prior to and since the review in question," said Gordon Larkin, Bradford's director of academic programmes.

QAA reviewers, who visited last December, found shortcomings in teaching, learning and assessment and in quality management, and some weaknesses in curriculum design, content and organisation.

Teaching materials and notes for students were of "variable quality", and in some cases provided "poor examples of English usage".

Information for students about assessment criteria contained conflicting or imprecise guidance about penalties for plagiarism, excess length or late submission.

The college could not demonstrate that its assessment of students' learning was rigorous, fair and carefully monitored, partly because it had failed to provide adequate samples of students' work.

The report says: "This is a matter of substantial concern, especially since a recent external examiner's report expressed the view that marking was not sufficiently rigorous or consistent, and an Edexcel external verifier and another examiner reported similar deficiencies in the provision of documentation."

Reviewers were concerned that a group of Chinese students taking education studies modules, who were expecting to graduate with degrees, was not registered for an award and was excluded from most of the student data.

The report concludes that "teaching materials with errors of spelling and grammar provide poor models of professional practice and this, combined with the relatively unreflective nature of the self-assessment document and the lack of critical reflection in the annual review reports, is not consistent with the college's commitment to quality ethos".

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