Top marks from Education Scotland Inspectors for North Highland College UHI
30th April 2016
North Highland College UHI has received a very positive report following a recent Education Scotland review of its Further Education provision across its campuses in Thurso, Dornoch and Alness. The independent review, carried out by Education Scotland inspectors on behalf of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC), took place in February and resulted in an overall judgement of "effective", the highest level possible.
This judgement confirms the college's status as a high performing college and recognises that the college has in place effective arrangements to maintain and enhance the quality of its provision and outcomes for learners and other stakeholders, that the college is led well, having sufficiently robust arrangements to address any identified minor weaknesses, and is likely to continue to improve the quality of its services for learners and other stakeholders.
The college was also praised for three areas of excellent practice in relation to how it embeds entrepreneurship and enterprise within its curriculum; the operation of its chef mentoring scheme in the SVQ level 2 Professional Cookery programme and the flexible delivery of its Equestrian Studies programmes across Scotland.
Principal Donald MacBeath said, "I am absolutely delighted with our report. It acknowledges the hard work and commitment of staff in providing a high quality college experience for our learners and in meeting the needs of employers and communities across the North Highlands. The success of our full time students in achieving the highest overall attainment rate in the Highlands & Islands in 2014/15 gave me particular pride. I was pleased to see the partnerships involving college staff, students, local schools and employers and their contributions to developing the North Highland economy being recognised. The report does contain a small number of recommendations on where we should focus our quality improvement planning and I am encouraged by the confidence inspectors expressed in our commitment to addressing these. I hope that the contents of the report will give great confidence to future students and our community that the college can meet their needs and expectations."
The report commends thirteen areas of positive practice and highlights:
· Learner success on full-time FE programmes is 74%, significantly better than national sector performance.
· A strong emphasis is placed on the development of essential skills. Almost all programmes include a variety of learning activities, meaningful work placements, guest speakers from industry, volunteering opportunities or enterprise activities which helps to prepare learners well for employment.
· Almost all Further Education learners progress to further study, modern apprenticeships or employment.
· The College works effectively with key strategic partners who value the college's commitment to responding to the priorities for the area.
· Learning and teaching across the college is strong. Almost all teaching staff use a wide range of effective teaching approaches and use their subject and professional knowledge well to engage learners fully. Peer learning is particularly effective.
· Learners are motivated and enthusiastic about their studies and are supported well by teaching and support staff.
· The College has a strong commitment to learner engagement, putting the learner at the centre of its activities and involving them in the planning of their learning and the improvement of their learning experience.
· The College has a strong quality culture. It has been particularly successful developing comprehensive peer review arrangements for teaching, which evaluates effectively the quality of learning and teaching through observation and professional discussion.
· Leadership for learning and teaching is strong and effective. The principal is supported well by a small team of directors and together they provide effective leadership for learning and teaching and other college functions.
A few areas for development have been identified within the report including improving success rates on some part time programmes; access to and reliability of ICT in some parts of the college and self evaluation arrangements for support areas. Comment on some poor quality accommodation in the tower block is also made.