Informed Scotland September 2018 – Looking beyond the headlines


The new academic session began relatively calmly for learning & skills after a long, hectic summer.

The Scottish Government continues to refer to its commitment to education as its ‘defining mission’ in its 2018–19 annual programme, Delivering for today, investing for tomorrow.

The hottest topic in September, however, was the continuing debate over the future of Scottish National Standardised Assessments in Primary 1. MSPs voted to halt them, but Cabinet Secretary John Swinney advised schools to continue with existing plans.

As well as the usual statistical reports and annual reviews, other items to look out for include:

There’s a new Fintech Skills Academy in Fife, a new national Developing the Young Workforce website. And Scotland’s new design museum, V&A Dundee, opened to much acclaim, offering learning opportunities galore.

Favourite feedback last month came from Natalie Phillips, Education, Business & Community Growth Project Manager at Clyde Gateway: ‘Excellent publication which enables us to keep well briefed and informed on all important education, business and skills updates! I can’t recommend it enough!

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

Who’s where? Making sense of the learning & skills landscape


The sixth annual Informed Scotland Organisations & People Special has been published.

It’s a snapshot of a busy and ever-changing learning & skills landscape, helping our subscribers to quickly locate the key organisations and make sense of where they fit into the bigger picture.

This year there are links to over 360 organisations, up from 330 in 2017 and more than twice as many as in the first edition in 2013.

Informed Scotland 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 last year’s edition, including new organisations, mergers and closures, promotions, moves and retirements. We’ve added a new section of the six regional improvement collaboratives – regional alliances of the 32 local authority education departments – and a new section covering research & development organisations in community & adult learning.

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

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.

You can also keep up to date via Twitter @InformedScot and Instagram informedscot

Informed Scotland July/August 2018 – Plans, pilots, policy & practice


It was pretty much business as usual throughout the summer, with little respite from policy developments, plans, pilots, research studies, surveys and statistics.

The Scottish Government’s first national action plan for parental involvement and family learning was one of the big items. Learning Together is not a quick read, however, with 13 goals and 52 (yes, 52!) actions spread over 51 pages. We’ve provided our subscribers with a helpful Annex containing the full list of goals and actions for ease of reference.

One of the most hotly debated issues over recent months has been the Scottish National Standardised Assessments, with the campaign to drop them in primary 1, led by Upstart, continuing to grow. The Scottish Government published a User Review of the assessments a year after they were introduced, including detail of some changes for 2018/19.

There are numerous other publications worth delving into

The word ‘new’ appears over 60 times in our latest issue

Creative Scotland launched Screen Scotland, with its focus including skills & talent development and film education.

A new Google Digital Garage was opened in Edinburgh’s West End offering digital skills training and advice. Marks & Spencer is creating a new data skills academy for its staff with the help of Decoded. Young Enterprise Scotland launched a new Circular Economy Challenge for primary and secondary pupils.

SCEL created a new Evolving Systems Thinking teacher leadership programme with the Ontario Principals Council. And several new courses were created, including for teacher education.

Feedback that made us smile this month from Ken Muir, Chief Executive of GTCS: Another really excellent edition. This is such a great publication – one to which every organisation and public body in Scotland should subscribe. It provides such a helpful summary of all the ‘goings on’ across Scotland. A real one-stop read for busy people.
Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland June 2018 – School reforms, skills gaps & Brexit


The hottest topic in June was the Scottish Government’s last minute decision to ‘park’ the Education (Scotland) Bill, choosing instead to work with local authorities in a joint agreement to ‘fast-track’ school reforms.

The surprise shelving of the Bill (the Draft of which was still published) received mixed reactions, being described as both ‘welcome’ and ‘a shambles’.

In contrast, the decision not to create an Education Workforce Council has been widely welcomed, with the General Teaching Council for Scotland noting the recognition given to the value and benefits of its work. The National Parent Forum of Scotland, however, was disappointed that parental involvement legislation won’t be updated.

The first formal report by the International Council of Education Advisers was also published. One of its 19 recommendations – for a ‘collaborative’ rather than a ‘legislative’ route to school improvement – is acknowledged as influencing the government’s decision.

Brexit appears on our front cover for the first time, as organisations assess and prepare for its potential impact right across the learning & skills landscape.

It is one of the challenges highlighted by City & Guilds in its informative People Power report, which examines employers’ views of whether the UK economy has the skilled people it needs for the future.

Brexit is also mentioned by Audit Scotland in this year’s Scotland’s Colleges report, as a factor with potential risk to colleges’ future financial sustainability.

As usual in June, a bundle of statistical reports and annual surveys was published, including on school leavers and looked after children, on higher education leavers from HESA and their academic experience from HEPI, and on apprenticeships from SDS.

What are you waiting for? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber and keep yourself or your organisation better informed about what’s happening in learning & skills. Find out how to subscribe here or contact to receive a recent copy of the digest.

Informed Scotland May 2018 – Learner journeys, skills shortages & equality


Once again May has been a hotbed of must-read reports on a range of learning & skills topics.

The most significant item was the final report of the Scottish Government’s 15–24 Learner Journey Review. It is aiming to achieve a more balanced, coherent approach to education and learning that offers better advice and guidance, more work-based learning, and shorter post-15 learner journeys. We’ve included details of all 17 recommendations in an Annex for ease of reference.

A cluster of reports highlight current and expected skills shortages in a range of sectors, with some similar approaches suggested for filling the gaps – including raising their profile with young people. There’s a new Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Life and Chemical Sciences from Skills Development Scotland; an OPITO and Robert Gordon University report on the skills of tomorrow in the oil & gas industry; A Future Strategy for Agriculture from the Scottish Government; a Skills Review for the Aquaculture Sector from Highlands & Islands Enterprise; and a National Centre for Universities & Business report calling for a national campaign on digital health & care skills.

There are thought-provoking reports on future skills needs: Skills 4.0: A skills model to drive Scotland’s future by SDS and the Centre for Work-based Learning considers the implications of the fourth industrial revolution. Two papers on Future Teaching trends by researchers at Moray House School of Education look at the likely impact of automation and global societal shifts on education and teaching. And PASCAL International Observatory makes the case for Building entrepreneurship in sustainable learning cities.

Equality, diversity and inclusivity was another hot topic. In particular the second annual Report on Widening Access by the Scottish Funding Council, the first Equality Challenge Unit report on staff equality in Scotland’s colleges, and Glasgow City Council’s research into Ethnic Diversity in the Teaching Profession shared by Tes Scotland. They all indicate that progress towards equality is slow…

It’s six years since the first edition of Informed Scotland was published in May 2012! We’re celebrating with the first of a few new covers – many thanks to Janey Boyd at Mamook Graphics for continuing her great design work for us.

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.

You can also keep up to date via Twitter @InformedScot and Instagram informedscot