YORK College has been judged “outstanding” by the national watchdog Ofsted following an inspection - a significant improvement on its previous ‘good’ grade.

A spokeswoman said it was only the fourth general further education college in the UK to be awarded the outstanding grade across each of the main areas since a notoriously tough new inspection framework began just over a year ago.

The quality of teaching, learning and assessment and the effectiveness of leadership and management all win praise in the report, as does students’ success rates, which have been consistently above national averages for five years.

Ofsted’s report says tutors are highly motivated and have very high expectations.

“They give unwavering attention to ensuring that students remain at the heart of all college activity,” it says.

“The principal, senior team and managers are relentless in their pursuit of excellence.”

The college’s partnerships with local schools, employers and other organisations also receive a special mention, as does the contribution made by students to the local community and the care and support provided to help students reach their full potential.

Maths, engineering, hairdressing and beauty therapy, performing arts, visual arts, teaching and lecturing are all judged to be “outstanding”.

However, the report does recommend swift action to reverse low success rates on foundation and intermediate qualifications in English and mathematics, so those students achieve the same high standards as those in the rest of the college.

Principal Alison Birkinshaw said the team of 11 inspectors involved in the short-notice inspection in December had been extremely thorough.

She said: “They observed a significant number of lessons, spoke to students and staff, looked closely at marked work, and checked that students were achieving well and then moving on to higher levels of study and employment.”

She paid tribute to students’ achievements, the tremendous work of staff and the support received from parents, the local community, partners and employers.

Coun Janet Looker, cabinet member for education at City of York Council, said she was delighted the college’s excellent work had been recognised.

“As York’s largest provider of education and training for 16 to19-year-olds, the city is proud of the college’s success rates,” said Coun Looker.