Celebrating achievement in adult learning

by Jackie Borge of Borge Consulting. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

I’ve worked in adult learning for almost three decades, yet I still feel a tug on my heart strings when I hear how learning has affected people and changed their lives for the better. And that’s exactly what happened when I attended Newbattle Abbey College’s adult education conference in March for Informed Scotland.

The day was a celebration of the Adult Achievement Awards, developed in 2014 at the request of SCQF Partnership and Education Scotland, and credit-rated by Edinburgh Napier University in 2015.

Through a mix of keynote speakers, workshops and group discussions, attendees heard about the successes of the pilot programme and about plans for the future. We heard learners talk about feeling more confident, about experiencing achievement and recognition (often for the first time in their lives), and of having a passion and desire to continue learning, ‘It’s opened me up to be hungry, to have more… I want more now’.

During his keynote speech, John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, talked about the importance of ‘supporting adult learners to achieve their potential’ and ‘ensuring that we have accessible learning in communities’.

Cath Hamilton, Education Officer with Education Scotland, reported on national priorities and developments in adult learning, and mentioned ‘the importance of cross-sectoral and partnership working for us all to realise our ambitions for adult learning in Scotland’.

The pilot programme has been running since 2015 and Marian Docherty, Newbattle Abbey College’s Depute Principal, reported on some of its key successes, including:

  • 29 pilots delivered across Scotland and one in the Isle of Man
  • 450 learners and over 100 tutors engaged across sectors and settings, including in the community, at home, in college, at work and through volunteering programmes.

Marian also shared information about plans for the future and delegates were asked to provide feedback. The plans are exciting and ambitious and include: rolling out the Awards across Scotland, the rest of the UK and Europe; engaging providers and employers; and developing a new Award at SCQF Level 2.

I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings, to a time when the Awards are a ‘must have’ for individuals and when employers recognise the value of the qualification. 

Jackie is also an associate, AJ Enterprises.
For further information email jackie@jackieborge.co.uk and follow @borgeconsulting on Twitter.

Read previous guest blogs in the series, including those from GTC Scotland, Be Personnel, SCEL, Clyde Gateway, EDT Scotland and SCQF Partnership.

Informed Scotland March 2017 – Early learning, future skills


Early learning made it onto the Hot Topics list for only the third time in 49 issues. The main reason was publication of the Scottish Government’s Action Plan for Early Learning & Childcare (ELC).

Even if ELC isn’t usually on your radar it’s worth taking a look, as there are actions relevant to pretty much all sectors. For ease of reference our subscribers will see all 31 actions in an Annex. Skills Development Scotland also published the first ELC Skills Investment Plan in March.

Another key report that spans most sectors is Education Scotland’s Quality & Improvement in Scottish Education, covering from early years to colleges and community learning.

Interesting reports to delve into this month include City & Guilds’ Generations at Work, the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ Student Development Survey, and Business in the Community and City & Guilds’ study of jargon-filled, off-putting entry-level job descriptions.

A new Centre for Work-Based Learning in Scotland was opened – not to be confused with the School for Work Based Education, formerly the Scottish Centre for Work Based Learning, at Glasgow Caledonian University. And it was announced that Individual Training Accounts are to replace Individual Learning Accounts later this year.

Meanwhile, both the Federation for Community Development Learning and UK Commission for Employment & Skills closed down. The response to the UKCES Chief Executive’s farewell comment on LinkedIn shows we’re not alone in mourning the loss of this unique organisation that straddled and made sense of the UK skills landscape.

It was a busy month on the Learning & Skills Events Calendar, too.

The 7th International Summit on the Teaching Profession took place in Edinburgh, organised by UK and Scottish Governments, OECD and Education International. As well as the annual Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the first Scottish Financial Education Week was held. We were delighted to showcase Informed Scotland at the final day’s conference at Murrayfield, live tweeting throughout. Thanks to visitors to our stand – we hope you’re enjoying your free copies of Informed!

We also made it along to two events looking to the future: Nesta’s Future Jobs; Future Prosperity at University of Edinburgh, and Goodison Group in Scotland’s debate on Future Schooling, Learning and Education Approaches at the Scottish Parliament, with discussion led by Prof Mark Priestley of Stirling University. This will feed into Scotland’s Futures Forum’s Scotland 2030 Programme, which also kicked off in March.

A reminder that we’re working on a Leadership Special commissioned by Scottish College for Educational Leadership to coincide with their annual conference in Perth on 3 May.

Feedback that made us smile last month: ‘Informed Scotland unlocks critical information for interested parties without them having to know or remember everything!’

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email info@ajenterprises.co.uk to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland February 2017 – Strategies, hubs & busting myths


February might have been the shortest month, but it certainly wasn’t the quietest.  As usual there were numerous sets of statistics, plus new strategies, task groups, courses, announcements, launches and partnerships.

The learning & skills word of the month was ‘hub’:

Interesting reports published in February included Education Scotland’s first Review of Family Learning, City & Guilds’ survey of companies eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, and the Sutton Trust’s Global Gaps analysis of the latest OECD PISA results, prompting quite a debate. (Worth checking out an article in TESS on the Sutton Trust report, from the Scottish Network for Able Pupils.)

There was also an increased focus on the role of evidence; in the current climate of ‘fake news’, anti-experts, anti-intellectualism and ‘data deniers’, this is to be applauded and encouraged! For example, EIS published Myths of Immigration booklets for teachers, Education Scotland started an #InspectionMythbusters series, and Alliance for Useful Evidence & CarnegieUK Trust published The Scottish approach to evidence discussion paper.

A reminder that we’re working on a Leadership Special commissioned by Scottish College for Educational Leadership to support their annual conference in Perth on 3 May. There might even be spaces left to attend – if you’re quick!

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email info@ajenterprises.co.uk to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland Dec 16/Jan 17 – New year, new challenges


Once again there was no lull over the festive season with 2017 continuing at pace, ready to throw everything at the learning & skills landscape. Words of the year are already emerging: ‘equity’, ‘learner journey’, ‘streamlining’, ‘quality’ – and ‘challenging’!

You could be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu, with the National Improvement Framework for schools back on the cover, just as it was a year ago, though this time it’s the final version. A new Pupil Equity Fund was also launched to help schools close the gap between the most and least deprived young people.

There was the annual glut of statistical releases, with a few notable additions – the first Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels from Scottish Government and the first college Student Satisfaction and Engagement Survey from Scottish Funding Council. Missing was the school leaver destinations report, with Skills Development Scotland instead planning to concentrate on the new Participation Measure of all 16–19 year-olds in learning, training or work each August.

The Scottish Government published its response to the Apprenticeships Levy, as new work-based Graduate Level Apprenticeships were announced by a number of universities. There was an updated Food & Drink Skills Investment Plan from SDS, the well-covered OECD PISA survey, IPPR Scotland’s paper on challenges for the skills system, and the annual High Fliers Research Graduate Market report.

While elsewhere the talk is of walls and borders… we can’t help but comment on the numerous examples of international collaboration in this edition, including the upbeat Scotland’s Universities Welcome the World campaign.

The fourth annual Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics list, plus a round-up of last year’s activity, is in an Annex. You can also listen to an interview on Radio EDUtalk, when Angela and David Noble explored the stories behind the list, and looked at what’s on the horizon for 2017. And look out for mention of a Leadership Special we’ve been commissioned to produce for Scottish College for Educational Leadership to support their conference in Perth on 3 May.

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email info@ajenterprises.co.uk to request a sample copy.

Learning & Skills in Scotland – What’s on the horizon for 2017?

In an interview for Radio EDUtalk, Angela took David Noble’s listeners on a whistle-stop tour of some of the items that will be shaping Scotland’s learning & skills landscape this year.

You can listen to a podcast of the show, which also reviewed the hottest topics in 2016. Below are links to some of the programmes, projects and events mentioned for 2017:

Government programmes, reviews, strategies & funding

Current open consultations

Resources, opportunities & courses

Themed weeks & major conferences: full list on the Events Calendar

Keep yourself or your organisation better informed about what’s happening in learning & skills in Scotland. Find out how to subscribe here or contact info@ajenterprises.co.uk to receive a recent copy of the digest.