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HMIe report finds excellent FE provision at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

A report published by HM Inspectorate of Education, on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council, highly commends the provision of further education by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.

The external review of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig took place over 2 weeks in April 2011, with evaluation being made, in particular, on the College’s Easter Short Courses Programme and also An Cùrsa Inntrigidh, the award winning distance learning FE Programme.  Through observations and assessment of learning and teaching methods, the inspectors found examples of excellence in the ways in which students are progressing and achieving high quality outcomes; the learning and teaching processes the College has in place and how the College is run.

 Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sheriff Roddy John MacLeod said, ‘I welcome this report.  It shows just how good the level of further education being delivered by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is.  It praises the strong bond between teachers and learners, with everyone striving to improve the quality of that education, year on year.  The report also emphasises how appropriately we are meeting learners’ needs and aspirations.  I would like to congratulate Principal Boyd Robertson and our Director of Studies, John Norman MacLeod, and everyone else who, through prolonged hard work, have won this level of approbation for the College.  The positive terms of the report affirm the College’s position as the Centre of Excellence for Gaelic in Scotland and, indeed , the world.’

Two community partnership initiatives were singled out as being examples of excellent practice.  Learning through Living Culture, a five day residential course based in the North end of the island was highly successful in giving students the opportunity to further learn from members of the community, thus improving their oral skills and deepening their knowledge of the Gaelic literature, history and culture of Skye.  This course was developed  through collaboration between  Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Flodigarry Township Trust.  The College has also developed a strong relationship with Lasair, a language and community initiative based in the Trotternish area of the island.  This project is very successful in creating opportunities for Gaelic to be spoken and heard, through talks given by members of the project, which are hugely beneficial to students of the College and also to the wider community.

Excellent practice was also achieved in online guidance and support for course representatives through the Student Consultative Committee (SCC), whereby distance learning learners are represented by volunteers who send feedback to the SCC from the students they represent.  This allows everyone the opportunity to express their opinions, regardless of where they are in the world, and also helps to make them feel more closely connected with the wider student body of the College.

College Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson welcomed the HMIe findings ” The report gives a ringing endorsement of the quality of further education provided by the College to learners both on and off campus.  It highlights, inter alia, the passion and commitment of staff, their experience and their ability to meet the aspirations and needs of learners.  The very positive findings reflect great credit on the academic leadership provided by John Norman MacLeod and his depute, Archie MacLean.’

Director of Studies, John Norman Macleod commented,’This Report builds on the previous highly successful HMIe reviews of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.  HMIe reviews are based on national standards and the highly positive outcomes and judgements are just rewards for the efforts of all staff and students in maintaining and improving quality standards.  The report recognises that the College works effectively with key partners to achieve greater numbers of Gaelic speakers and in enhancing language use.  It is very gratifying for us that our strong collaborative links with Gaelic-speaking communities has been recognised as sector-leading and innovative practice.’

This report can be found on the HMIe website’

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