The Department for Education (DfE) has announced 20 colleges which will lead national collaborative projects to develop “cutting edge digital approaches to online learning” as part of its £5.4 million Strategic College Improvement Fund.

In the south west, Truro and Penwith College will lead a partnership involving Petroc College, Barnstaple, and South Devon College. The background to the project is Ofsted research into attitudes to successful learning and, more recently, the experiences of the Covid lockdown, where teaching, learning and support moved online.

The success of Truro and Penwith College in terms of the scale and quality of its remote digital offer to present and prospective learners during the Covid crisis has been widely recognised.

Commenting on the chosen projects and successful applicant colleges, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Gillian Keegan said: “The past few months have been a challenging time for the sector, but they have gone above and beyond to support their students. This additional funding will help to support further collaborative work.

“Now more than ever, it’s vital that colleges can support their students to gain the skills they need to progress and employers and our economy need to grow. This fund will help colleges overcome new challenges and continue to deliver high-quality education and training for the communities they serve.”

Project Lead at the college, Julian Roberts, said: “Our partnership project creates enhanced tutorials and learning, delivered both on campus and remotely, to improve learner success and boost progression into work and further training. It brings together subject specific experts to examine how our colleges address barriers to learning, especially around emotional and social skills. Best practice will be shared and schemes of work produced, with resources that support both remote and blended delivery.

“Students will be provided with remote access to extra lesson content, additional activities addressing particular needs, and online options which promote health and well-being. Partners across the colleges will explore the benefits of different platforms (such as Digital Campus, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom) to measure student uptake and outcomes. The project will allow colleges to channel resources into the most effective areas to provide a stronger offer still to learners.”

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