The hard work and dedication of staff in some of Scotland’s leading colleges will be recognised at this year’s glittering TES FE Awards.
Colleges north of the border have secured 10 nominations for the prestigious awards, which will take place on 22 April at the Grosvenor House hotel in London.
Stewart McKillop, principal of South Lanarkshire College, has been nominated for FE leader of the year, and could follow in the footsteps of 2015’s winner, Mhairi Harrington, principal of West Lothian College.
While the other three colleges in the Lanarkshire region merged to form New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire College opted to go it alone, entering into a federation with the new institution. This left Lanarkshire as one of only three Scottish college regions with more than one college when the sector was reorganised two years ago.
The submission from the college says that Mr McKillop has led it through “remarkable” change, and has maintained his focus on leading a financially stable, independent, innovative institution. It adds: “This is against a backdrop where the norm for many other colleges in Scotland has been to simply merge into larger institutions. The principal has a straightforward, person-centred and highly effective philosophy.”
Last month, TESS reported that the college had managed to improve the rate of students successfully completing their courses from 68 per cent in 2013-14 to 71 per cent in 2014-15 – 6 per cent above the Scottish average.
Forth Valley College and Edinburgh College secured a total of three nominations each on the shortlist. The institutions will be going head to head with Dundee and Angus College in the employer engagement category.
Dundee and Angus is also in the running for the FE college of the year title. According to the institution’s submission, it achieves the highest levels of student attainment in Scotland “irrespective” of students’ backgrounds. One key to this, the college believes, has been the creation of a learner engagement team, set up after the merger that created the institution two years ago.
Working across all three campuses, its aim is to develop learners’ confidence, boost sport and wellbeing, and help students to integrate and socialise effectively.
Edinburgh College has made the shortlist for marketing and communications team of the year. It has also been nominated for its contribution to the local community with its garden project, which has transformed areas of previously unused land at the institution’s Milton Road and Sighthill campuses.
The garden now offers a space for college staff and students, as well as the community, to work together, building and strengthening local relationships.
Ayrshire College is shortlisted in the same category, for its Medics against Violence project, which teaches hairdressing and beauty therapy students how to spot the signs of domestic abuse.
Meanwhile, Forth Valley College will be hoping to come out on top in the best teaching and learning initiative and apprenticeship programme of the year categories.
Ms Harrington, who won FE leader of the year in 2015, said that it had been a privilege to receive the award. “It is a testament from the community, which recognises the hard work of the college and its ambition for our learners,” she added.
TES FE editor Stephen Exley said: “The phenomenal range of entries for this year’s TES FE Awards bears witness to the groundbreaking work going on within colleges and training providers across the UK.
“It is the perfect time to highlight and celebrate the most exceptional individuals, teams and institutions that the sector has to offer.”