A report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) this week rated Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as having achieved the highest grade in seven out of the ten areas graded by inspectors. The review singled out several areas where the Gaelic college was “managing well and improving the quality of its services for learners…”.

Inspectors focused on Further Education provision and assessed staff, students, course provision and leadership at the college. Sabhal Mòr was rated "Very Good", the highest possible grade in seven different areas, and was rated “Good” in the other three categories. HMIE in their review looked at: Educational Leadership, direction and management; Programme design; Learning and Teaching Process; Staff; Assessment; Learner progress and outcomes; Guidance and learner support; Accommodation for learning and teaching; Equipment and materials; and Quality assurance and quality improvement.
The report stated: "The College provided a welcoming and supportive environment for learners and encouraged them to progress to further study... Staff-learner relationships were uniformly positive and contributed to a constructive learning environment. All staff planned their lessons well and were responsive to individual learner needs…. Almost all learners made good progress in relation to their prior learning experience. They had gained high levels of proficiency in Gaelic language and had become more confident in their ability to speak the language."

Sabhal Mòr Director, Professor Norman Gillies, said: “We are delighted that Her Majesty’s Inspectors have made such a positive assessment of the college as a learning environment. The report is testimony to the hard work of staff at the college and the commitment of students to their studies. As Scotland’s Gaelic college we continue to strive to improve and increase learning opportunities in the language, both on campus and via distance learning. This report only serves to further motivate us to help revitalise Gaelic through education. We will not, however, be resting on our laurels. The opening of the new Fàs centre for the creative industries and an ever-expanding choice of under- and post-graduate courses means that the future will hold new challenges which we are confident we can meet.”

Director of Academic Studies at SMO, John Norman MacLeod, said: ““This Report builds on the previous highly successful review of 2004. For the first time, the short course language provision was included and contributed, along with the other distance learning language provision, to the seven “very goods” achieved overall. HMIe reviews are based on national standards and, such positive outcomes for academic provision and leadership, are just rewards for the efforts of all staff and students in maintaining and improving quality standards. In this respect, the recognition of sector-leading best practice within the Report is very gratifying.”
The report highlighted the purposeful and effective leadership at the college and identified the college’s Cùrsa Inntrigidh (Access to Gaelic) as an example of innovative practice which was a sector leader: “Each lesson took the form of a cycle which integrated speech drills, analysis and comprehension of the written word and use fo newly acquired oral skills in simple conversation settings… Feedback from learners undertaking Access to Gaelic was very positive. Most learners found the telephone tutorials helped them to acquire confidence in spoken Gaelic from an early stage. A significant number progressed into higher level programmes or used their skills to enhance employment prospects.”

The report also singled out the college’s Family Week courses during the summer as particularly innovative. HMIE inspectors visited the college in April and June of this year in order to carryout their review. The last review was made in 2004.