Education inspectors who visited Shetland College at the beginning of March have produced a largely favourable report although they recommend more evaluation should take place.
The inspectors from HM Inpectorate of Education spoke to staff, students, the board of management and employers. As a result they were confident that, in general, learners were progressing well and achieving “relevant, high quality” outcomes.
They found the college to have high quality learning and teaching processes in place, and that in most cases learners were actively engaged in “planning and enhancing their own learning” and participated in the life and work of the college.
The inspectors identified many strengths, in particular the college’s relationship with the community. The report stated: “The college is highly responsive to the needs of its community and this is reflected well in its strategic aims. It works well with its partners to identify and respond to the needs of learners and its community.”
Another positive was that the college provided “strong and effective” leadership for services to support learning and teaching.
Other strengths of the college were that campuses and rural learning centres that were geographically well-sited and offered a wide range of programmes, and, importantly, that retention rates were high.
Inspectors also found that learners were well prepared for further study or employment, and most made good progress. They enjoyed their studies, and relationships with teaching staff were positive. The range of teaching approaches used met individual learner requirements well.
On the down side, however, attainment rates for more than a few full-time learners were found to be low. Although the college was deemed to be “well led” and generally provided good quality services for learners and other stakeholders, inspectors thought students were insufficiently involved in decision-making within the college. In addition, evaluation of learning and teaching was found to be ineffective.
The inspectors recommended several main points for action. Firstly, programme teams should aim to improve attainment rates for full-time learners. Teaching staff should implement fully the arrangements in place for learners to set goals and reflect upon their learning. In general all college managers and teaching staff should ensure they evaluate learning and teaching more effectively.
Inspectors will continue to monitor the college through annual visits.