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West Lothian College

2018 Full Inspection Report
Areas for development
  • While the Gender Action Plan promotes activity across all curriculum and service areas, further action is required at course level to address gender imbalance on traditionally male/female dominated courses.
  • There is an increased demand for support for the mental health problems faced by students, placing considerable strain on both support and curriculum staff.
  • The college has not yet developed, in collaboration with students, an Equally Safe strategic framework to prevent gender based violence on campus.
  • Successful outcomes for FEFT increased in most curriculum areas across the college, although there are a number of subject areas with success rates lower than the college average.
  • While there has been good improvement in HEFT over three years (up 3.9%) there was a decline over the year of -2.3%. Some curriculum areas improved HEFT outcomes over the year, however, the majority experienced a decline in student success. In particular, there was a significant drop in successful outcomes for 16-24 year old female students.
  • Gender imbalances remain on traditionally male/female dominated courses and there is insufficient evidence of gender actions being embedded at course team level.
  • An integrated, contextualised model of essential skills delivery is not applied consistently across the college.
  • While there is an established process of annual curriculum planning, a strategic approach to a longer term review of the curriculum - informed by feedback from employers, schools, the local authority and community planning partners - is required to inform the operational planning process and ensure the college is responding to the future skills needs of the region.
  • The gender balance on FEFT courses was 58% female and 42% male, suggesting an imbalance in curriculum provision attractive to young male students.
  • Curriculum staff carry out regular unit evaluations with individual classes to inform operational delivery and improvement, but there is inconsistent involvement of students in course team and evaluation meetings.
  • A lack of digital skills is impacting on some lecturers’ ability to make effective use of new learning and assessment tools. While pockets of good practice are evident, Moodle usage is inconsistent.
  • While the evaluation process is robust and well understood, there is insufficient evidence of specific evaluation of learning and teaching approaches (pedagogy).
  • Targets for student success are not set at curriculum centre and course level.
  • The college’s IT infrastructure does not fully meet the needs of students and is impacting negatively on the quality of their experience at college.
  • Facilities in some teaching areas need to be updated to remain relevant to industry and provide high quality learning experiences for students, for example the training kitchens, construction and engineering workshops, and the gym.
  • The college has identified a need to improve social learning spaces as well as more quiet study areas for students. More private spaces are required to support the increasing number of vulnerable students who require one to one support.
  • An increasing number of students declaring mental health problems is placing a considerable burden on support and curriculum staff.
  • A few teams do not involve the Student Association consistently and proactively in operational activities.
  • While good progress has been made over the year to improve the quality of management information, performance data is not yet available early enough to support timeous and effective decision making.
  • Further work is required to develop the strategic capacity of college managers and in the consistent management of poor performance.
  • While significant improvements have been made by the Student Systems team on data capture and analysis, further improvements are required to ensure that managers have access to real-time data for analysis and decision making.
  • Not all managers make effective use of external benchmarks, learning and teaching observation feedback, and good practice in the sector to inform quality improvement plans.
  • The process of evaluation does not, in all cases, use input from students effectively to support evaluation at course team level and there is still a tendency to focus on evaluating operational issues rather than on focused reflection on key aspects of learning, teaching and assessment leading to improved student outcomes.

Report Recommendations