BURNLEY'S 'superschools' have been dealt a fresh blow after a second college was rated 'inadequate' by education watchdog Ofsted.

Unity College, based in Towneley Park, has been given a 'notice to improve' after inspectors said it was failing to perform as well as it should.

In March Ofsted found Hameldon Community College, Byrom Street, was failing and put it into special measures.

But there was better news in Pendle as Nelson's Vale College, Oxford Road, was labelled satisfactory by inspectors in a report published this week.

The headteacher and head of governors at Unity College - formerly Towneley High School - said they were disappointed but pledged to turn things around.

However the problems at Burnley 'superschools', which were launched in September 2006 under the £250million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme, has prompted strong criticism of the county council, which is in charge of education.

Burnley council leader Gordon Birtwistle said county hall bosses "had to take responsibility" and said it appeared that some schools had "gone backwards" since the BSF revamp.

But county council bosses said they were confident headteacher Sally Cryer and her staff could improve standards.

'Notice to improve' is one step above special measures, when a school is labelled failing.

Ofsted's definition is that a school is "requiring significant improvement because they are performing significantly less well than they might in all the circumstances reasonably be expected to perform."

In their report, Ofsted officials say they are happy with the learning environment created by Unity staff, but believe that students are failing to reach their potential in the report to be published next week.

Unity has been told that it must improve GCSE and Key Stage Three results and improve the rate of good or outstanding lessons.

But inspectors noted "the majority of children enjoy coming to college", that "students are well cared for and supported" and "parents views of the college's effectiveness are generally positive".

Unity was given an "inadequate rating overall". However while standards and achievements were rated poorly, the school was said to be either satisfactory' or good' in students' personal development and teaching and learning.

Headteacher Sally Cryer said: "We are not happy with our results but this was identified in August and we have drawn up strategies to address this.

"Obviously I would have liked a better report but I am pleased that the Ofsted inspectors could see that we are starting to head in the right direction."

Michael Murray, chairman of governors, said they were disappointed but were not "going to mope about it".

He said: "We are determined to correct the results situation. It is not as if it was a shock, after the results in August.

"Last year we had problems in Key Stage Four and there were improvements there. We have got a good team at Unity and we feel that now we need to get them firing on all cylinders.

"We have got all the building blocks in place and the strategies to address this. If we had got these in place then I would be worried."

Coun Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council education cabinet member, said he was "disappointed" that Unity had been placed in the inadequate' category and was confident the headteacher and governors would improve the situation in the coming months.

He said: "It is good to see that parents have faith in the headteacher and her staff. I am confident that the school will be able to improve and the county council will offer any support it can to help.

"Unity is a good and well-run school, that has a difficult catchment area, and has some tough issues on its agenda."

But Burnley council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle said he was angry that the next generation of young adults "will be found wanting".

He said: "Education is the county council's responsibility and they have got to get to grips with it.

"If our schools are going backwards then they have to find out the reasons why and get them put right.

"It is not good enough for them to say that it is not their fault, and putting the pressure on staff. They have got to accept responsiblity.

"In Burnley we are desperate for high-quality schools to produce high-quality students for the high-quality jobs the borough council is creating for Burnley."

An inspection for Towneley High, in 2001, saw the school receive a satisfactory rating, with inspectors noting that it was "efficient and gave good value for money".