Informed Scotland November 2017 – Keeping pace with change in learning & skills


The latest issue is so packed with items it’s hard to believe it only covers one month!

The main publication was the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Education (Scotland) Bill, Empowering Schools, open until 30 January 2018. The proposals are far-reaching and somewhat controversial – we’ve included all 24 questions in an Annex for ease of reference.

Two other consultations opened. The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board is gathering views  on Defining an Apprenticeship until 20 December, and the Scottish Government on revised Guidance on the Presumption of Mainstreaming for pupils with additional support needs until 9 February.

Membership of the new Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board and the new Scottish Education Council were both announced last month; full lists are included in the Informed Annex.

November was also crammed with numerous important, useful and fascinating reports, including:

There’s no space to mention all of the other meaty reports, such as on poverty, social mobility, young people’s attitudes, and not forgetting the UK Industrial Strategy white paper. We also saw the launch of the Year of Young People 2018 with a raft of announcements and reports.

Among several developments, a new Cyber Skills programme was launched by SDS for S1–3 pupils, and Glasgow School of Art and Renfrewshire Council agreed to set up a new School of Creative Education at Castlehead High. Meanwhile, another sector skills body, the Tech Partnership of digital skills employers (formerly e-skills UK) is to close in September 2018 due to ‘changes in government policy for skills’.

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 latest guest blog post, Looking beyond the classroom to tackle the achievement gap by Children’s University Scotland Chief Executive, Neil Mathers.

Looking beyond the classroom to tackle the achievement gap

by Neil Mathers, Chief Executive, Children’s University Scotland. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

In Scotland today almost a quarter of children are growing up in poverty, and many lack even the most basic essentials to help them thrive. Low income and material deprivation impacts on multiple aspects of children’s learning and creates inequalities at every age and stage of their education.

Children from the most disadvantaged communities are less likely to get a job, engage in training, or progress into further or higher education; in adulthood they are more likely to be out of work, earn less and be in low-status, insecure jobs. Poverty not only damages children’s prospects, but also affects their experience of life in the here and now.

All children and young people have the right to a good start in life, regardless of their background, but in order to change the lives of children growing up in poverty it is essential to intervene early and work across all aspects of children’s lives in a coordinated and sustained way.

Children’s University Scotland wants every child to have the opportunity to learn and pursue their ambitions to the fullest. We inspire learning beyond the classroom that enriches children’s lives, broadens their horizons and transforms their prospects for the future. We give a platform to thousands of children who want to try new experiences, develop new interests and acquire new skills.

We do this by working in partnership with schools, colleges, universities and other learning providers to provide access to affordable, high quality out-of-school learning that raises aspirations, boosts achievement and helps each child to achieve their potential.

Aspire is our programme for inspiring learning and celebrating achievement at every age and stage of a child’s life. Our online platform enables children and families to search for opportunities, track their progress and visualise their skills development. Participation in learning experiences is recognised and rewarded as children collect credits and unlock awards that celebrate their learning journey.

Looking beyond the classroom to deliver integrated after-school activities, such as study support, can have a significant impact on achievement. Targeted support such as peer tutoring, mentoring and helping children understand how to improve their own learning outcomes can also make a difference.

Most of a child’s learning takes place outside of school, and it is therefore critical to strengthen support for parents to engage in their children’s learning at home.

Over the next few years we aim to work at every age and stage of children’s education, strengthening the role we play in learning at home, increasing opportunities to learn outside of school and contributing evidence on what works to close the achievement gap.

To find out more or enquire about working in partnership, contact Neil at
Twitter: @ChildrenUniScot Facebook: @ChildrensUniversityScotland

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

Informed Scotland October 2017 – Plans, aims, gains & change


October is usually a little less hectic for Scottish learning & skills – but not this year…

The main items this month were the Scottish Government’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths [STEM] – Education & Training Strategy, accompanied by an announcement for £20k STEM teacher bursaries; and publication of their Expansion of Early Learning & Childcare: Quality Action Plan.

The latter should be read alongside NHS Health Scotland’s review of the benefits to children of attending high quality early learning & childcare, also published in October.

A number of consultations were announced, including those on measuring the poverty-related attainment gap and on revising the professional standards for college lecturers. A major consultation on the new Education (Scotland) Bill was just published at the start of November – but more on that next month!

Other interesting items to look out for include:

  • two reports on the use of contextual information in university admissions from the Scottish Funding Council and Sutton Trust
  • Education Scotland’s changes to school inspections
  • Carnegie UK Trust’s report making recommendations on digital inclusion for vulnerable young people – and demonstrating that it’s wrong to assume all young people are ‘digital natives’.

It’s also worth highlighting that the target set for the Developing the Young Workforce agenda – to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021 – has been met four years ahead of schedule. If only anyone had the time to celebrate…

Thank you for all the recent positive feedback! Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

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.