HM Inspectors Publish Overview of Scotland’s College Sector

HM Inspectors visited all Scotland’s colleges where they met with college leaders, staff, learners, and other stakeholders. They evaluated the progress colleges were making towards their own improvement targets and their impact on learner recruitment, retention, attainment, and progression.

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HM Inspectors of Education have published a new report providing an overview of Scotland’s colleges during academic year 2022 to 2023.

The report sets out HM Inspectors’ findings from their visits, highlighting areas of strength as well as setting out a number of recommendations for the sector.

Among the areas of strength included in the report are that all colleges are prioritising the needs of local, national, and regional stakeholders in planning and updating their curriculum offer. HM Inspectors found that overall, curriculum teams worked well with partners to design programmes that meet the various needs of prospective learners.

There is also a clear focus on mental health and wellbeing across Scotland’s colleges, with HM Inspectors recognising that all colleges have taken account of the effect of the pandemic on new and potential learners. Many applicants, particularly school leavers, are underconfident about learning in a new environment and colleges took action to alleviate anxieties.

In addition, colleges are seeing an increase in the number of learners seeking support for mental health and wellbeing, and almost all support teams are enabling learners and staff to access support services online or face-to-face.

However, HM Inspectors have also included a number of recommendations for the sector including that colleges must work to reduce rates of learner withdrawal from full-time programmes, and address the significant variation in, and in some cases very low rates of, learner attainment across a number of individual colleges and subject areas.