By PETER JOHNSON
EDUCATION inspectors have given Shetland College a positive report card following a week-long review of the institute which found many weaknesses identified three years ago have been rectified.
The report by HM Inspectorate of Education says that significant “cross-college” failings including leadership, management and staff have been addressed since new managers were appointed and the council’s management committee was overhauled.
Its main findings were that the college has in place effective learning and teaching processes overall; learners are progressing well and achieving appropriate outcomes overall and that the college is managing well and improving the quality of its services for learners.
The report, published this week, says that there is further room for improvement and sets new targets such as improving monitoring of progress, fully observing equalities legislation and training staff in child protection and equalities issues.
Shetland College director George Smith, who was appointed in March 2006 after the first report, said that he was delighted that HMIE had recognised the hard work and commitment of all staff in the college.
He said: “It is very satisfying that through a team approach we have been able to make significant improvements to the quality of experience for our learners and that this has been recognised by HMIE. Clearly we will continue to seek to make improvements through tackling the areas for development identified by the Inspectors. I want Shetland College to build on its success and be a place where students and staff enjoy learning and working together.”
The chairman of the college’s management board Andrew Hughson said the board was delighted with the report which reflected positively on all 87 staff and “bodes well for the future of Shetland College and learners throughout Shetland”.
HMIE subjected the college to the review in April as part of ongoing monitoring and had also demanded that the college produce a formal “action plan” to tackle the shortcomings.
The report says that the review team focused on the college’s identified shortcomings in key cross-college functions such as educational leadership, direction and management, access and inclusion, guidance and support, resources and services to support the learner, staff and quality assurance and improvement and have graded each element as “good” – a huge improvement on the 2005 review.
The report specifically singles out the director and deputy director as key players in the improvement of the college and also commends the “effective overview” of the SIC’s management board which has maintained close contact with the college since the local election shake-up.
It was critical of the lack of a classroom in the Bruce Hostel, however, and pointed out both a lack of IT facilities in the AHS and the failure to properly develop flexible online learning across most FE programmes. Learning materials also did not sufficiently take account of social and cultural diversity.
The college’s current strategic priorities reflected Scottish Government policy and supported the college mission – to make a major contribution to the local economy through provision of high quality further and higher education which meets the needs of the population and employers.