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North Highland College UHI and its partners confirmed as national leaders in digital learning delivery throughout the Highlands

By Louise Glen

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Heckie Cormack from Portree with school pupils from other Highland schools.
Heckie Cormack from Portree with school pupils from other Highland schools.

Inverness College UHI and its partners’ North Highland College UHI and West Highland College UHI are celebrating after winning the Digital Learning Award for its Virtual School offer at the College Development Network (CDN) Awards.

The CDN Awards recognise the talent, innovation and achievement demonstrated by Scotland’s colleges, their staff and their learners.

The award from CDN is the third accolade for the Virtual School offer, which won the Outstanding Use of Technology in Delivering Remote Teaching and Learning category at the Tes FE Awards in May.

More recently the offer was shortlisted as a finalist for Best Use of Technology in Education at the Herald Digital Transformation Awards.

The Virtual School offer recognises the colleges’ innovative use of digital technology to deliver courses to S4, S5 and S6 pupils in remote and rural areas across the Highland Council region.

Working with Highland Council, the three colleges developed Virtual School, which builds upon the council’s Highland Virtual Academy initiative, allowing pupils to attend classes remotely using online learning technologies, providing an accessible curriculum to those pupils living in remote and rural regions.

Virtual School complements the colleges’ successful senior phase programme, which enables senior secondary school pupils to choose a college course to study one day, or across the week, as part of their options choices in S4, S5 and S6.

This provides pupils with access to programmes including National 5s, Highers, Advanced Highers, Degree Modules, Skills for Work programmes, Foundation Apprenticeships, National Progression Awards and Professional Development Awards, that aren’t available in their secondary school. Subjects available to secondary school pupils are showcased via the Highland Senior Phase website.

Lindsay Snodgrass, assistant principal – student experience and quality at Inverness College UHI, said: “Once again, I’d like to commend staff involved in shaping the ‘Virtual School’ offer, which has now been recognised at both UK and Scotland level.

"Using our expertise in remote learning, the Virtual School offer responds to the needs of our communities and the rurality of the Highland Council region by ensuring S4, S5 and S6 pupils have access to a range of courses regardless of where they live, providing them with more options to study the subjects they want for their chosen career.

The Virtual School offer is testament to the benefit of collaboration with other colleges within the University partnership and Highland Council.”

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