Informed Scotland June 2017 – Reforms, statistics & a few surprises


The most significant learning & skills item in June was the Scottish Government’s Education Governance report, setting out major changes for the school sector.

The plans made media and political headlines and prompted extremes of reaction. COSLA described the shift from the current local authority role as ‘concerning in every way’. The General Teaching Council for Scotland welcomed the focus on extending registration and regulation beyond teachers. And the Scottish Parent Teacher Council was pleased that the importance of parental engagement in schools was recognised, while raising concerns for cuts to the education service.

The strengthened role for Education Scotland, including taking over responsibility for leadership development from SCEL, caught more than a few by surprise.

John Swinney’s piece in Tes Scotland, Henry Hepburn’s Tes editorial and Prof Mark Priestley’s blog present different perspectives on the main issues and are worth a read.

The Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Review Phase 2 report was also launched, although with no real surprises and prompting less of a stir.

June heralded the annual raft of statistical reports and surveys, including on school leavers, higher education leavers from HESA, and their academic experience from HEPI/HEA, Modern Apprenticeships from Skills Development Scotland (SDS), colleges from Audit Scotland, and the digital tech sector from SDS and the Digital Technologies Skills Group.

There was also the welcome return of the IFF Research Employer Perspectives Survey, which used to be published by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills before its demise, and is now managed for the UK by England’s Department for Education.

It’s also worth mentioning a couple of reports with some ‘eyebrow-raising’ findings: One on the impact of school subject choices on employment chances by the Applied Quantitative Methods Network at University of Edinburgh, and one on careers and progression for women in farming & agriculture by Newcastle University and James Hutton Institute.

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber to keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland May 2017 – Examining, exploring, reviewing & reporting


The general election might have restricted government business, but it didn’t stop the publication of a raft of learning & skills reports. The May digest is stuffed full of those worth reading and sharing on a range of topics.

In particular look out for:

On top of all that, the Scottish Parliament’s Education & Skills Committee has been busy examining or reporting on teacher workforce planning, additional support for learning, and personal & social education.

Unbelievably it’s five years since the first issue of Informed Scotland was published in May 2012! Then we were writing about 23.1% youth unemployment (now 9.4%), the end of Standard Grades, and college mergers. An anniversary is a great excuse to thank all our subscribers, both new and those who’ve been with us since the beginning. Archive copies are available should subscribers fancy a reality check on how much, or how little, has changed over the past five years!

Want to keep on top of all the developments? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland General Election Extra


Ahead of each major election we provide Informed Scotland subscribers with a quick scan of manifestos and resources focusing on or highlighting learning and skills issues.

The UK General Election 2017 Extra includes links to resources, such as Education Scotland’s You decide website, Young Scot’s Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 General Election, and Enable Scotland’s guides on voting for people with a learning disability.

Links to manifestos include those from Universities Scotland, YMCA Scotland, Learning & Work Institute and YouthLink Scotland.

Not a subscriber? Contact for a free copy.

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber to keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

New Research & Policy Digest for the Northern Ireland Executive

AJ Enterprises and emh connect have been awarded a joint three-year contract to produce a new quarterly Research & Policy Digest for Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy, following a competitive tendering process.

The aim of the new Digest is to provide policy makers and stakeholders in Northern Ireland with quick and easy access to relevant local, national and international studies and strategies.

The two consultancies launched their own learning and skills digests in 2012, following four years producing similar briefings for members of a UK-wide business-education-government forum. Informed Scotland, published by AJ Enterprises and UK Digest, published by emh connect provide subscribers with monthly intelligence on research, policy and practice across government, education, business and the wider community. They encourage and enable connections to be made across the learning and skills landscape. Subscribers include national bodies, businesses, local authorities, colleges and other organisations working in the field.

Angela Gardner of AJ Enterprises and Elaine Hendry of emh connect are delighted to collaborate on creating the new digest for the Department. ‘Winning the tender recognises our track record of keeping busy people up to date and well briefed on the issues that matter. We’re looking forward to working with the Northern Ireland team to provide a useful resource for them and their stakeholders.’

This is a good example of the tailored services we both offer to our clients. For information about similar services, including face-to-face and written policy briefings, contact

Informed Scotland April 2017 – Gender, equity, anxiety & achievement


There was plenty to capture the attention in learning & skills this month, even with the Easter holidays and elections creating a few ‘distractions’.

Gender and equity was once again a hot topic right across the landscape.

Research reports initiated by the David Hume Institute on why boys do less well in education than girls, and British Council on Gender equality and empowerment of women & girls were presented and debated at events at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament respectively.

And a fascinating Equality Challenge Unit report was published on the different experiences of female and male STEMM academics (STEMM being science, technology, engineering, maths + medicine).

Numerous interesting reports and studies provoked much thought and discussion.

There was a Scottish Government Research Strategy for Scottish Educationdescribed by some as ‘about time’. Two reports from IPPR – The inbetweeners on graduate internships and Autonomy in the right place on school governance reform. The first OECD study of students’ wellbeing, with insights into the relationship between school-related anxiety and achievement. Plus a Skills Commission report on Lifelong learning for an ageing workforce, and a review of the impact of the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework.

We always enjoy spotting enterprising or creative learning & skills activities.

This month we noticed the Scottish Association of Teachers of PE launched a Higher Physical Education Revision WIKI, created by PE teachers across the country. Fife College distributed 8,000 study packs to students at local secondary schools to support their exam preparation. And a ‘Higher Grounds Coffee Bar’ opened at Auchenharvie Academy, North Ayrshire, supported by Ayrshire College, The Prince’s Trust Scotland and DYW Ayrshire, with pupils able to develop their customer service skills while working towards a City & Guilds Barista Skills certificate!

This is the tip of the information iceberg: become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Check out our new Leadership Special commissioned by SCEL, and the latest guest blog post, Celebrating achievement in adult learning by Jackie Borge.