Borders College

Ideas & innovations Fund Year 1Ideas & innovations Fund

Our Ideas & Innovation Fund has had a very successful introductory year, since its launch this time last session. The initiative has encouraged staff to bring forward 12 ideas for consideration using a simple process, described on our website.

A Panel made up of core members Cheryl Elliot, Lynn Retallick, Helen McNeill and Janet Robertson, alongside a range of volunteers, considered all of the ideas initially. We sought additional background information or detail as necessary, and made recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

SLT accepted eight of the proposals, with six of them having drawn down, or with firm plans to draw down, the funding available per submission of £500: most have involved purchase of time. Where proposals have progressed, they may not necessarily have done so quite as expected, but each has demonstrated the value of taking it forward and clear impact.

We have been able to re-route a number of the other proposals for consideration through more appropriate channels. A couple have not progressed due to changing circumstances.

We have learned a few things through the process and will make some minor improvements to it for this year. Look out for the announcement about deadline dates, coming soon!

Find out more about some of the fantastic ideas that colleagues have taken forward, below:

Simulator: Mark Catto – complete – purchase of equipment

Mark sought funding which has enabled engineering students to source, price and order component parts to enhance the capability of our simulator. The students took the opportunity to build, mount and test the equipment on the simulator, with software purchased courtesy of CC Electrical and a keyboard and mouse from ISLT.


Feedback from student groups who’ve tried out the kit have been impressed: the software already installed includes a farming simulator, as well as urban driving and off-road simulators, so there is clear potential for the kit to be used in a variety of ways, e.g. at events or for fundraising, as well as for educational uses.

If you have an idea on how you could make use of the simulator, please contact Mark direct at

Volunteering Skills Award online: Anne Whiteford – in progress – purchase of time

Anne is working with the ISLT team to develop an online Volunteering Skills Award, as the current method of face-to-face delivery is expensive and out of reach to many of its target audience of volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations.

She has sought funding towards tutor/assessor development time to pilot the approach, which could enable prospective students, such as Adults with Learning Disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to access Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) towards a lower cost of course, as well as providing proof of concept and enabling a better idea of demand.

Insight on Demand: Katharine Mathison, with Susan Rennie, Fiona Turnbull and Cameron Reith – in progress – purchase of external consultancy

This small team identified a need to better gauge need/demand for a course in advance of committing to delivery. Instead of a one-off piece of marketing, they sought funding to engage a marketing consultant to develop a tool. It will contain specific questions prompting input of a range of information from various sources. The process of populating it will build a dashboard to inform a decision on whether there is an effective business case.

Supporting learners: Alan Waugh – complete – purchase of time

Alan made a submission for funding on behalf of the Learning Support Team to facilitate investigation of assistive technology options, with a view to enhancing the availability of hardware and software, for students and staff to try them out before committing to purchase. This is intended to ensure we make the right technology available at the start of a course to enable students to succeed.

Following some discussion, we jointly concluded that the best value to be gained from the funding was by applying it to buy time for staff to attend an Assistive Tech. event in Glasgow. This has had the immediate impact of increasing the awareness of the Learning Support Team of the range of products available to help students. The team has already referred five apprentices for Access to Work assessments, for the purchase of technology that will help these students when not in College to access and work with curriculum content.

There has been a range of other benefits, including making links with key vendors and potential partners, and providing the opportunity of raising the possibility of hosting a local event and discussing sponsorship. In addition, the team intend to seek further opportunities to share their knowledge more widely with colleagues through CPD days etc.

Staff Industrial Work Placements: Lesley Anderson – in progress – purchase of time

Lesley’s proposal was around creating capacity to explore provision of a structured and supported programme of industrial work placements, particularly in health and social care, to support staff who have been out of the work environment for some time to become up to date with current practice initiatives.

Following discussion, the proposal put to SLT was for funding to buy time (10 hours) for a member of staff to undertake an industry visit and to write up a report, which will inform future developments.

Playroom: Joan Cairney – in progress – purchase of time

Joan had heard a presentation from West Lothian College (WLC) for childcare representatives, about the facilities they have developed. Her submission was to buy time to enable some of our childcare team to visit WLC’s facilities, which include an indoor and outdoor play area.


The team took lots of photographs on their visit, collating them into a Sway presentation to share with childcare colleagues. Whilst we don’t have access to the funding for facilities that was available to WLC for development at the time, the team have used the opportunity to benchmark provision elsewhere and collected ideas that will inform delivery going forward to enhance the student experience. The visit to WLC has created a great deal of liaison and creativity between the childcare team members, who have already developed plans for the outdoor courtyard. In partnership with the Access students, they are renovating the outdoor area and will build a fire pit, mud kitchens and a tree seat, enabling students to plan and carry out outdoor learning activities. They have arranged for children from a local nursery to come fortnightly to take part in activities planned by the NC Childcare students and, as a staff team, they are also looking at making the best use of the room that they currently have by re-arranging the resources and getting rid of outdated materials.

Many thanks on behalf of the panel:

  • to colleagues who have submitted ideas: Mark Catto, David McLear, Dawn Routledge, Nigel Gibb, Anne Whiteford, Katharine Mathison, Alan Waugh, Lauren Hamilton, Sam Anderson & Jamie McIntyre, Mark Easson, Lesley Anderson, and Joan Cairney
  • to panel volunteers who were able to participate: Carolyn Chapman, Michael Kidd, Amy Brydon

Please do consider submitting a proposal in 2019-20!

November 2019