A TOP award for digital learning has been won by a group of local councils across south-west Scotland.

The local authorities in East, South and North Ayrshire and in Dumfries and Galloway claimed the joint prize for Digital Transformation at the Municipal Journal (MJ) Awards.

The authorities won the prize for their digital delivery of qualifications, SWConnects.

The initiative delivers live online teaching for Advanced Highers and Highers to pupils in 40 secondary schools across the four councils as part of the Regional Improvement Collaborative.

It allows pupils to take on and learn courses and subjects in partnerships with other schools, that they may not have been able to otherwise.

This win follows a Highly Commended award at the Local Government Chronicle Awards the previous week, where the judges said this project hugely impressed the panel with an approach which had a direct and measurable impact on students and at no incremental cost.

Before SWConnects, learners across south-west Scotland were given less choices of courses to study at Higher and Advanced Higher level, largely due to rurality and geography.

Learners from across the south-west can now study virtually, in classes and courses run by teachers from across all four local authorities.

Speaking on behalf of the Regional Improvement Collaborative, Dr Gillian Brydson, executive director of education, skills and community wellbeing for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “We are delighted to have won this MJ award as it validates and recognises the quality of the work we have delivered so successfully.

"Winning an MJ Award acknowledges the tremendous effort of all the staff and learners within the four local authorities and shows what can be achieved if we are brave and work together.

"To be able to offer a broader range of qualifications to pupils in rural areas has meant they’ve had the chance to go on to study courses at colleges and universities that would not previously been possible.

"A sincere thank you to all the teachers, support staff and learners who have made it such a success. 

"This model has proven that on-line delivery of learning towards qualifications works, and we look forward to expanding this approach with our colleagues across the councils."