Scottish Funding Council Chair, Mike Cantlay, explains why he believes the principles behind the CDN College Awards matter to Scotland as well as to colleges, their staff and their learners.
The CDN College Awards are brilliantly clear about what they celebrate; it’s talent, innovation and achievement.
They’re compelling words. As students, they’re what we aspire to when we decide to further our education. We want to build our skills, to become creative and to achieve to the very best of our abilities. They’re also great words to hang onto on those bitterly cold winter days when it takes superhuman effort to get out of bed for that early morning lecture or workshop.
For staff working in colleges the words inspire a commitment to do their absolute best for their students. Helping talent flourish, watching students develop the confidence to innovate, and seeing learners achieve their goals is also what encourages college staff on those cold winter mornings! And for staff to see their teaching, leadership and administrative talents recognised through the Awards is incredibly motivating too.
But the words have meaning in a wider context. In the Scottish Funding Council’s recently published strategic plan, the word talent appears around 12 times, as does the word achieve together with its synonyms succeed and thrive. Innovate and innovation are used no fewer than 24 times; evidence of our ambition to support an innovation-led economy.
So these words are incredibly important. From a national perspective we can’t create prosperity and wellbeing without developing the skills and talents of everyone. We need to be able to explore new ideas and thinking, and to translate what we find into innovation in our industries and public services. And none of that works without a strong sense of what we want to achieve and the determination to do so.
It goes without saying that Scotland’s colleges make a huge contribution to bringing all this about. The very first sentence of the foreword to our strategic plan states that Scotland’s colleges and universities are fundamental to social, economic wellbeing and prosperity. It goes on to talk about their ability to create a pipeline of skilled and educated people from all walks of life to meet all kinds of technical, vocational, and critical thinking needs.
Alongside the amazing individual achievements of college students and staff, the fact that colleges do all of this is a big part of what we celebrate through the annual CDN College Awards. In that sense the Awards belong to everyone involved in college education in Scotland – and you should be very proud of yourselves.
Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council