Informed Scotland November 2020 – Fundamental changes in learning & skills

Issue 86, sent to subscribers on 10 December, includes key announcements and guidance up to 9 December – including the decision to cancel Higher and Advanced Higher exams.

Sufficient time has elapsed since the first COVID-19 lockdown for more detailed data on its impact on learning & skills to be recorded and studied, and for more meaningful reflections to emerge.

At the risk of sounding rather dramatic, as the dust settles, the devastation it covers is perhaps even more stark than feared.

For example, the latest quarterly SDS report on apprenticeships states: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the context in which [they] are delivered’. This is echoed by the Scottish Parliament Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee, whose investigation raises concerns for the ‘severe impact’ of the pandemic on apprenticeships.

Also take a look at reports examining the specific impact on race inequality in the workforce by Carnegie UK Trust and on taught postgraduate students by Advance HE.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. A plethora of new initiatives is aiming to combat the damage, including to apprenticeships. And reports such as Learning & Work Institute’s annual Adult Participation in Learning Survey make for encouraging reading, showing the increase in ‘learning through lockdown’ in Scotland and across the UK.

The speed at which new initiatives are having to hit the ground running unfortunately means blink and you may miss them. The time to prepare and respond to consultations, to apply for funding and to express interest in participation is tighter than ever. Some opportunities came and went between Informed issues, such as YouthLink Scotland’s call for applications for the new £2m COVID-19 Residential Outdoor Education Centre Recovery Fund, which opened on 20 November and closed on 11 December. Look out for Making Scotland’s Future: A recovery plan for manufacturing – Draft for consultation which closes on 15 January.

The next issue will be the Dec/Jan edition out at the start of February 2021, however in January we’ll be taking our seventh annual stocktake of Learning & Skills ‘Hottest Topics’ from Informed covers in 2020. No prizes for guessing what will be at the top…

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