When teaching and learning was forced online because of the pandemic, staff at West Highland College UHI, North Highland College UHI and Inverness College UHI were not fazed. They had already been delivering remote education to students in the most rural communities in Scotland through their virtual school (VS) model.
Until a few years ago, older students in remote parts of Scotland had a limited choice of curriculum, having to travel lengthy distances to access certain courses. But the VS has changed that and, today, it delivers 21 qualifications to more than 350 students based in the Highlands.
Developed with the local authority, the model’s focus was firmly on providing an accessible curriculum in remote areas – and now students can access apprenticeship and remote work placements through VS, too.
The impact extends beyond college students, with small rural schools and home-educated children now accessing a greater choice of qualifications, with the VS also being a great option for pupils dealing with issues that affect their schooling, such as illness and bullying.
Tes FE Awards 2021: Outstanding use of technology in delivering remote teaching and learning
Tes FE Awards 2021 lead judge Bob Harrison said: “This year, our usual category, outstanding use of technology for teaching learning and assessment, was tweaked to take account of Covid.
“West Highland College UHI, North Highland College UHI and Inverness College UHI’s VS model is a perfect example of collaboration and cooperation between FE providers in the Scottish Highlands, using technology to engage and empower learners remotely.”