7 Jan 2019

The College Improvement Project: tackling the FE attainment challenge

Launched in 2017, the College Improvement Project (CIP), aims to improve retention and raise attainment in FE in colleges through taking a quality improvement approach to developing evidence-based practice.

Five colleges across Scotland are involved in the project (Dundee & Angus, Edinburgh, Inverness, New College Lanarkshire, and West College Scotland) and have formed improvement teams to determine what things have the biggest impact on the learner experience and which of these could be tested and adapted by other colleges to the benefit of the sector as a whole.

What makes this project different is that the colleges are looking in detail at the combined impact of small-scale changes in both the classroom and within college systems. Now in the second year of their improvement work, as evidence is starting to emerge about what works in which contexts, the five colleges are thinking about how they can develop their approach across the sector as a whole and share their findings and approach with a wider audience.

Supported by the Scottish Government, and with additional support from sparqs to involve students in the project, colleges have been engaging their staff and students to try out new approaches to improving practice with a focus on three specific themes: Services to Support Learning, Engaging in College Life, and Teaching and Learning – colleges as learning organisations.

Events are being hosted both nationally and internally with college project teams to support the ongoing work, with the expectation that colleges will see an increase in completion rates in the areas their tests have focused on. However, improving retention and attainment in the wider college sector will of course be a longer-term endeavour, requiring more systematic application of the methodology as well as an expansion in the sharing of evidence, to build an informed toolkit of improvements that the sector can be confident make a difference.

As the project continues to develop, the aim is to share more of the outcomes with the sector, so all colleges can learn from the project and see attainment and retention improve in their own college.

You can watch this video that highlights the work from the first theme event, which took place in September 2018.

For more information about the CIP, please contact:

Elizabeth Shevlin, Improvement Advisor, Scottish Government - Elizabeth.Shevlin@gov.scot; or Stef Black, Development Consultant, sparqs - stef.black@sparqs.ac.uk

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