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 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 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 to receive a recent copy of the digest.


Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics 2016


Here’s our fourth annual list of Learning & Skills ‘Hot Topics’ that made it onto the cover of Informed Scotland over the past year:

1. Digital & tech sector skills (=2 in 2015)

2. Science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) (=4)

=3. Apprenticeships (=9)

=3. Enterprise (=2)

=3. Gender balance & gaps (=9)

=3. Teacher education, development, shortages & recruitment (-)

=3. Qualifications (-, although National Qualifications was =9)

=3. Widening access (8)

=9. Assessment (-)

=9. Financial education, capability & skills (-)

=9. Skills gaps & shortages (=4)

Although the list is produced by fairly unscientific methodology, each year it captures most of the hottest issues. Unsurprisingly, ‘Digital skills’ was back in the number one spot, having never been out of the top three since the list was first compiled in 2013.

‘STEM’ has also appeared in every list, however this year’s 2nd place is its highest position by far.

‘Apprenticeships’, ‘Widening access’, and ‘Skills gaps & shortages’ are the only other topics that have made every annual list – and they’re likely to remain hot issues in 2017.

All new entries appear for the first time, although National Qualifications was equal ninth in 2015.

It’s particularly surprising that there have been no previous listings of anything related to teacher education, development or employment. However with plenty happening, including Edinburgh hosting the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March, we’ve a feeling it’ll be back on the list next year.

The biggest faller was ‘Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)’, missing from the list after topping the table in 2015. Although every digest has included numerous DYW items, it only made it onto two covers.

Despite 2016 being the Scottish Government’s Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design, ‘Innovation’ only made it onto one cover, with no showings of architecture or design. We’re therefore reluctant to predict an entry related to the 2017 Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology

Angela will be reviewing the stories behind the list and looking at what’s in store for 2017 in an interview for Radio EDUtalk on 24 January. What were your 2016 highlights? What are your predictions for 2017? Tweet us @InformedScot.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to be better informed about what’s happening across learning & skills in business, schools, further & higher education, community & adult learning, and government & wider society. Contact to receive a recent copy and find out how to subscribe here.

Merry Christmas to clients, collaborators, contacts & coworkers!

Image is © Tanami

2016 has been another busy year, so it’s a good time to take stock and say thank you!

As education moved onto the political centre stage, we’ve been working hard to keep Informed Scotland subscribers up to date with learning & skills matters. As well as the monthly digests, we published a Scottish Parliament Election Extra, the fourth annual Organisations & People Special, and three excellent subscriber guest blogs by SCEL, GTC Scotland and Be Personnel. Thanks to our subscribers who’ve provided some great feedback and been spreading the word about how they benefit from receiving Informed Scotland.

Through the Learning & Skills Events Calendar and social media sites we’ve kept a wider audience regularly updated about the opportunities and developments across the landscape. @InformedScot now has over 2,700 followers, an extra 700 since this time last year, and we’re now sharing images on Instagram – thanks to all our engaged followers! Special thanks to Lisa at Media Bloom for helping to keep the Events Calendar updated and for her social media expertise.

Angela has also provided consultancy and editing & proofreading services to repeat and new clients with business interests at home and abroad. Whether it’s been research, intelligence or horizon scanning, writing blogs or papers, or copy-editing and proofreading academic books, business websites, strategy reports or online courses, it’s been as fascinating as ever!

Personal thanks once again to associates including Janey at Mamook Graphics, Elaine at emh connect, and others I’ve had the pleasure of working with in 2016. That includes fellow Edinburgh Editors and members of SfEP – it’s great to be part of such a mutually supportive local network, impressively coordinated by Lesley Ellen.

Final thanks to Craig Dorrall, Video Production Manager at Tanami, for providing this year’s festive photo! Working alongside other businesses is invaluable, and it’s been a pleasure to encounter the creative, professional team at Tanami while working at Hanover House.

The annual Informed Scotland Hottest Topics in Scottish Learning & Skills will be shared here in January (see what made the list in 2015).

Email for more information about any of the above, to subscribe to Informed Scotland, or to discuss how we could support your work in 2017.