East Kilbride News
College loses its top staffing status award
South Lanarkshire College has been dealt a blow by workplace standards agency Investors in People, who have stripped the institution of the prized Platinum accreditation it has proudly held for six years.
We can reveal that, following an Investors in People (IIP) survey of staff, South Lanarkshire College (SLC) has been demoted to Standard status –the most basic of levels.
The staff survey was conducted by IIP in November 2022, when principal Aileen McKechnie and interim clerk to the board had been suspended on full pay, pending investigations, for exactly a year.
Although the college holds Platinum accreditation in IIP’s relatively new supplementary category ‘We invest in Wellbeing’ – the only college in Scotland to do so – it plummeted through Gold, Silver and Bronze status on the way down the rankings in the ‘We Invest in People’ classification, ending up with only Standard.
SLC was awarded coveted ‘We Invest in People’ Platinum status – the Rolls Royce of IIP accreditations – in 2016 and again in 2019, after six years as a Gold standard institution.
The reasons for SLC’s fall from grace are outlined in a 37-page Investors in People report produced following the staff survey, which attracted a response rate of just 68 per cent – meaning 107 employees elected not to participate.
Viewed as a key indicator of employee engagement, the response rate was 22 per cent below what’s required to achieve
Platinum status. The report reveals that there were many ‘disagree’ responses to positive statements in the survey – with up to a third of respondents disagreeing in some cases.
When asked to respond to the statement: “My organisation is a great place to work,” 24.1 per cent of participants (55 employees) disagreed.
To the statement: “I trust the leaders of my organisation,” 45.8 per cent of respondents disagreed and 10 per cent refused to answer – a result the report’s author describes as “disappointing.”
An analysis of the survey results highlights gaps between policies, procedures and practices that fell short of the requirements of achieving accreditation exceeding the basic
Standard level. The survey revealed short-fallings in the areas of: managing performance; recognising and rewarding high performance and structuring work.
Concern was also raised that the college was not filling roles with people who are capable of performing them.
In the survey, SLC was given a “very low” score of 636 out of a potential 900 – well short of the average IIP benchmark of 728 and the higher education average benchmark of 705.
As a result, the report warns, candidate attraction, employee morale, and reputational impact for college stakeholders was at risk.
The report states: “Your survey scores were all well below the IIP average for every indicator and it was also disappointing that 107 members of staff did not complete the survey.” In a paper for the HR committee, written in February about the ‘We Invest in People’ report, the college’s head of HR, Gary McIntosh, recommends that an action plan is produced to address its key recommendations – which include a revision of the institution’s vision, mission and values.
Referring to McKechnie and clerk Brian Keegan – who have since been sacked – the IIP report’s author states: “This has been a very difficult year for you [South Lanarkshire College] and I believe that the ongoing investigation into your suspended principal and your clerk to your board had a profound impact on your assessment.”
In recognising some of the strides made by the college, the report commends its management team for their work in upskilling curriculum managers, the “substantial progress” made in its succession plan, and progress in giving staff more autonomy and responsibility.
South Lanarkshire College will be assessed again by Investors in People in 2025.
A spokesperson for SLC commented: “South Lanarkshire College is very pleased to have been awarded: Investors In People ‘We Invest In People’ Standard; and Investors in People ‘We Invest in Wellbeing’ Platinum.
“The college continues to work through any recommendations made in both reports.
“South Lanarkshire College is proud to be the only college to currently hold ‘We Invest in Wellbeing’ Platinum.”
When asked for comment, Investors in People did not respond.