Informed Scotland September 2017 – Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration


September was another hectic month of high profile, high level activity, particularly – but not exclusively – involving schools.

The Scottish Government has once again put education centre stage in its plans for the year, in what it describes as a programme of ‘radical reform’.

One of the hottest topics for school governance is the creation of six new Regional Improvement Collaboratives, whose improvement plans are to be ready by January 2018.

In fact, ‘collaboration’ has to be the word of the month:

A report for Interface by BiGGar Economics demonstrated the bottom-line benefits as a result of industry collaborating with academia. Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate set up a Collaborative Working Group to create a new shared inspection framework for early learning & childcare and out of school care settings. Scottish College for Educational Leadership endorsed a Fife Council Teacher Leadership course including collaborative enquiry. Universities and colleges formalised agreements and memoranda of understanding to collaborate with institutions and bodies at home and abroad. And a report for Creative Scotland by BOP Consulting, on how to remove challenges faced by young people in accessing the arts, concluded that ‘collaboration is key’.

September was also packed with numerous important, useful and/or fascinating reports, including:

  • a British Council study of young people’s views of education and work
  • a Prince’s Trust survey of the value and development of ‘soft skills’
  • an exploration of the future of skills and work by Pearson and Nesta plus a prototype skills map
  • SQA’s findings from their consultation on National Qualifications with learners and teachers
  • the outcomes of the Scottish Parliament Education & Skills Committee inquiry into teacher workforce planning
  • a study comparing primary science education in the four UK nations by CFE Research and University of Manchester
  • the first statistical Report on Widening Access from Scottish Funding Council
  • an economic impact report of the value of college graduates by Fraser of Allander Institute for Colleges Scotland
  • and research into young people’s views of their education and training experience by SQW and Young Scot.

And if you are at all interested in improving your cookery skills, check out the new SQA films featuring City of Glasgow College’s famous senior lecturer and MasterChef: The Professionals champion, Gary Maclean!

This is the tip of the learning & skills iceberg… Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so we can keep you on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland July/August 2017 – Shortages, statistics, participation & perceptions


We’ve become used to holiday season being as busy as the rest of the year for learning & skills. 2017 was no different, with teacher shortages and recruitment one of the hottest topics making the headlines.

As usual at this time of year the digest is packed with statistics, research studies, surveys and exam results. There are numerous reports worth delving into, including:

Two interesting reports explore ‘perceptions’. One, by HEPI and Unite Students, compares university applicants’ expectations to the reality of student experience. The other, by Education & Employers Research, looks at the views of primary teachers on the impact of business engagement on pupils’ academic achievement.

Alongside many new courses, centres, websites and resources, the somewhat controversial new Scottish National Standardised Assessments kicked off for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3, a new National Film & Television School Scotland was announced, and an innovative new Future Talent career management service opened at Dundee and Angus College. Sadly, the MAKlab design and prototype studio that had been supporting technology education went into liquidation.

Great feedback about the 2017 Organisations & People Special from a new subscriber: ‘This is super useful.’
Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Who’s where in Scottish learning & skills?


The fifth annual Informed Scotland Organisations & People Special has just been published to coincide with the start of the 2017–18 academic session.

It provides a snapshot of a busy and ever-changing learning & skills landscape.

Each year we add more items – this year there are links to over 330 organisations, up from 280 in 2016 and more than twice as many as in the first edition in 2013.

Subscribers find it a useful directory of the main bodies and institutions operating across business, education, community & adult learning, government and wider society, including:

  • Sector-specific skills bodies
  • Local authority education departments
  • Colleges & universities
  • Teacher education institutions
  • Developing the Young Workforce regional groups
  • Knowledge exchange & innovation centres

There have been many changes since we published the 2016 edition, including new organisations, new appointments, retirements and closures. We’ve also added a few new sections to the Special, including one that lists subject teacher associations and networks.

It was interesting to observe the growing variation of titles for local authority heads of education – although our award for the most inventive job title has to go to a ‘Chief Entrepreneuring Officer’ in the business, employment & enterprise section…

All new subscribers receive a copy – join the growing list and stay well informed.

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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.

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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!

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