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Northern Ireland’s further education colleges deliver high quality learning that meets the needs of learners and the economy, Minister Diane Dodds said today.

The Minister was speaking after a visit to South Eastern Regional College’s Lisburn campus. The Minister congratulated further education college staff and lecturers on the very positive evaluation findings reported in the recently published Education and Training Inspectorate’s Level 3 Curriculum Evaluation reports.

She said: “My Department commissioned this independent evaluation to evaluate the extent to which the further education colleges’ provision at Level 3 is meeting effectively the current and emerging educational and training needs of the economy, of the young people entering the labour market and of those already in the workforce.

“I was delighted, but not surprised, to see in the ETI report that the quality of almost all of the learning and teaching observed was good or better, with a majority of the lessons observed being very good or outstanding.

“I commend the ETI evaluation report to all learners and prospective learners, and their parents and guardians, and hope they will use it to inform the next step of their education at their regional further education college.”

The Minister also welcomed the measures that further education colleges are taking to resume onsite educational delivery in line with the guidance prepared by the Department to maximise the return of as many learners as is safe.

In June, the Minister announced the partial and targeted reopening of colleges and other providers to facilitate adaptive assessments for vocational qualifications, and the subsequent return of Training for Success trainees to their work placements from July 20.

The Minister said: “It has been my priority to ensure that FE colleges and work-based-learning providers are enabled to welcome as many learners as possible to return to their college or training organisation to our new delivery models, and to have as many as possible back onsite at the earliest opportunity.”

Over the summer months, colleges and non-statutory training providers have undertaken a phased approach to resumption of certain activities, in order to prepare the way for learners’ wider return. This included learners attending to complete adaptive assessments during July and August, staff returning to prepare the buildings and training facilities, and the return of students to work placements.

From August 17, colleges and non-statutory training providers have been able to resume face-to-face delivery of training as part of the Department’s ApprenticeshipsNI and Training for Success programmes.

The Minister concluded: “I want to reiterate my thanks to all of the FE colleges and work-based learning providers and their staff for their continued hard work during this challenging time.”

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