A team from College Development Network (CDN) visited UHI Shetland on Friday 8 September to provide support to college staff and to gain insights from their experiences of delivering education within remote and rural communities, on the far edge of the UK.
CDN is the national improvement agency for the Scottish college and post-school skills sector. Education experts from the organisation work with colleges to develop their people, share their great work, and enhance student success. As an influential convening power, CDN facilitates collaboration within the college sector.
The visit provided a package of support, with a variety of sessions for college staff. It also involved local authority and third sector participants from OPEN Voluntary Action Shetland, Anchor for Families, The Compass Centre, COPE Ltd Enterprising People, and Shetland Skills Development Scotland.
Participants benefited from a range of sessions, including an introduction to CDN’s new ‘Step Forward’ Researcher Development Programme, which supports college staff to develop the skills required to undertake research projects, enhancing their own practice and improving outcomes for their college and its learners. The CDN team worked with UHI Shetland on a Step Forward project aimed at supported the embedding of sustainability across the curriculum and transforming ideas into practice through targeted action research.
A session called ‘The Trauma Informed College’ showcased CDN’s recently-launched Trauma Informed Programme, which provides access to training, resources and interventions that to help colleges tackle the challenges faced by learners and their communities in accessing and sustaining their participation in education
In addition, the team of CDN’s three specialist education Leads, Dr Paula Christie, Jo Turbitt and Dr Gail Toms, engaged with those who support armed forces veterans and explored innovative curriculum development techniques with college staff. They also worked with college staff to enhance their own knowledge and understanding of the unique set of challenges and opportunities of delivering education on Shetland. The insights they gained will inform support for other remote and rural colleges and their communities.
Recognising the need to provide broad support for the country’s colleges, Dr Paula Christie, Lead for Research and Enhancement, a former Shetland resident and who initiated the visit, said:
“This is the first visit to the college by CDN in eight years. CDN exists to support every college in Scotland, no matter their geographic location. This visit to UHI Shetland provided an opportunity for staff at the college to gain greater understanding of the package of support that CDN offers. We are hugely excited to have made this visit, we gained so much vital learning and knowledge exchange from our colleagues at UHI Shetland.”
Jane Lewis, Principal and CEO of UHI Shetland said:
“We are delighted to have College Development Network colleagues visit in person and enjoyed working and learning from them to support our students more effectively, with the particular challenges rural learners face. We are also valued the support from CDN to help us with embedding sustainability in the curriculum, as this is an important area in our strategic plans.”
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