9 Mar 2020

sparqs' support around attainment and retention

The College Improvement Project (CIP) which ran from 2017-2019 brought together five colleges as part of a pilot project to begin to tackle attainment and retention challenges in Scotland’s colleges. sparqs were involved in supporting student engagement in the project, both in terms of student attendance at the CIP residentials and engagement with follow-up meetings for the students and students’ association staff of the colleges involved.

Since the project came to an end, we have continued discussions with the Scottish Government, who oversaw the project, as to how we can support all colleges on this strand of work. We know that tackling attainment and retention challenges remain a priority for the Government, the Scottish Funding Council and for all colleges, and we want to ensure that student officers and students’ associations can effectively engage across the sector.

Our first step was to develop and co-deliver a session at our most recent meeting of our National Education Officers Network (NEON) hosted by Fife College on Wednesday, 19th February, alongside the Scottish Government Improvement Team. The session included an introduction and overview to the background of the CIP and work on attainment and retention, a section looking at language and terminology, an interactive activity to help support officers to understand and engage with the data and an opportunity to explore the QI methodology. Feedback from the session was positive and there is a real drive from student officers to know more, and how to understand and interrogate the data that underpins this work. View the presentation from the session for further details.

Our next step will be to begin to develop a workshop for new officers as part of our annual training residential, That’s Quality! Colleges, which will take place at Stirling Court Hotel on the 13th and 14th August 2020. This workshop will be an opportunity for newly-elected student officers to gain first-hand experience of the data and methodology around this work. It will be a highly interactive session that we hope will support officers to go back to their colleges and engage in dialogue around attainment and retention.

We will continue to offer support and guidance where we can as to how officers and associations can be engaging in this work within their own colleges and nationally.

We would encourage student officers and associations to begin to think about how they can engage other levels of student representatives, such as course reps and lead reps, in work around attainment and retention.

This may include providing additional training and/or guidance as to how course reps can engage in this area of work, or perhaps asking reps to be aware of and report back about any initiatives in their curriculum areas that are having a positive impact on student attainment and retention.

If you would like to find out more about this area of work, please get in touch with Stef Black, Senior Development Consultant – stef.black@sparqs.ac.uk - 07977 980867.

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