Informed Scotland June 2019: Skills shortages, empowering schools & the digital divide


Skills gaps, shortages and plans were back as hot topics in June.

Skills Development Scotland launched a Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland and regional Skills Investment Plans for the south of Scotland and Glasgow City. The Open University’s Bridging the Digital Divide report examined the extent and impact of digital skills gaps. And CBI/Tata Consultancy’s survey looked at digital skills challenges faced by business.

A year after the draft Education (Scotland) Bill was published and shelved, it was finally put to bed. Instead, the Scottish Government published a progress update on education reforms and new Devolved School Management Guidelines. And on the topic of ‘empowering schools‘, Education Scotland released its Thematic Inspection of Empowerment for Parent and Pupil Participation, the third of a series of inspection reports.

Other reports worth highlighting include Education Scotland and Scottish Government’s Learning for Sustainability: Vision 2030+ action plan; the latest Learning Insights report by Kineo on the ‘phenomenon of micro-personal-networking’ in workplace learning; and fascinating models proposed by the British Library for a UK-wide digital platform for library users.

As usual, June was full of statistical reports and annual surveys. This included the destinations of school leavers and sobering education outcomes of looked after children, on apprenticeships by SDS, colleges by Audit Scotland and Colleges Scotland, and higher education student experience by HEPI and Advance HE, plus the second annual progress report from the Commissioner for Fair Access.

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Informed Scotland May 2019 – Making sense of learning & skills since 2012


Seven years ago we published the first edition of Informed Scotland.

Remember 2012, when the talk was of Scotland’s 23.1% youth unemployment, the merger of 37 further education colleges, and Curriculum for Excellence and the move from Standard Grades to new Nationals? Now youth unemployment is down to 6.6%, there are 26 colleges… and, okay, we’re still talking about Curriculum for Excellence and qualifications!

Today’s hot topics include challenging issues not regularly discussed back then, like mental health & wellbeing, or non-existent, like Brexit.

On mental health there were signs of things to come, with Education Scotland’s Communities Team publishing Learning is good for your health in May 2012, and a new national strategy for health & wellbeing in schools under development.

There was no hint of Brexit in issue 1 however. The main item on the EU was a Scottish Government announcement of £25m of European Structural Funding for projects to support getting young people into work. Perhaps had we lauded, rather than taken for granted, this type of regular, significant intervention, we would have avoided the major challenges created by Brexit today.

Back to the present, and May 2019 was the month for a plethora of must-read reports, including:

There are new funds from Education Scotland for creative curriculum design in schools and for STEM leadership and professional learning for teachers, from Skills Development Scotland for digital skills training, and from Scottish Enterprise to provide manufacturing training support for SMEs.

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.

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Informed Scotland April 2019 – Qualifications, assessments & exams


Assessments, qualifications and exams were making the learning & skills headlines last month.

The debate about Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) continued, with reports published from two out of three separate ‘reviews’ – by the Scottish Parliament Education & Skills Committee and the government’s P1 Practitioner Forum.

The annual exam season began for schools, colleges and universities. A Reform Scotland report focused on the number of National Qualifications a student can take at S4. And SCQF Partnership encouraged employers to become ‘inclusive recruiters’ by using SCQF levels instead of specific qualifications in their recruitment processes.

Other items to highlight include:

April saw the launch of numerous new courses, plus a new preparing for executive leadership programme from College Development Network, a new SSERC/STAC online forum for school technicians, the opening of a second Newton Room STEM learning centre in the Highlands, and a new hairdressing salon run by New College Lanarkshire students for long-term patients at University Hospital Wishaw.

Also last month, the running of Canal College and Canal Heritage projects transferred to Keep Scotland Beautiful as Scottish Waterways Trust sadly ceased trading, plus Newlands Junior College in Glasgow closed its doors after opening for disengaged students five years ago.

Look out for overlapping national themed weeks later in May, including those on Digital Learning, Learning at Work and Learning Disability. Our Learning & Skills Events Calendar contains details of these and more.

Finally, a quick mention with thanks to Edinburgh graphic designers, Mamook, who created the original Informed Scotland design and template – as you may have noticed they’ve provided a few new snazzy cover designs over the last year, and this issue features the final one. We hope you like them as much as we do!

This really is just a taste of all that happened last month! To keep on top of developments you need to become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland March 2019 – Additional support for learning & skills


The hottest Scottish learning & skills topic in March was additional support needs.

Among a range of items, there was a cluster of Scottish Government reports on additional support for learning in schools; Education Scotland’s new inclusive education module for teachers on The Open University’s OpenLearn Create platform; a new Carers Trust Scotland recognition award for college student carers; a number of initiatives to support those with autism; and Skills Development Scotland is working with British Deaf Association Scotland to raise awareness about Modern Apprenticeships for young deaf people.

As well as the annual round-up of statistics, including on college staffing and higher education students, qualifiers and retention rates, interesting items to highlight include:

This really is just a taste of all that happened last month! To keep on top of developments you need to become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland February 2019 – Inclusive, empowered, connected


There was no shortage of learning and skills activity in blink-and-you-missed-it February. A range of hot topics, familiar and new, presented themselves across the landscape.

Inclusion was referenced in all sectors:

There is a new SCQF Inclusive Recruiter campaign; a new Creative Scotland Create:Inclusion Fund; a new HUB for SUCCESS offering support to care experienced young people in Edinburgh; and a new Prince’s Trust project to develop digital skills for unemployed and underemployed 16–30 year-olds across the UK backed by

There was a report on Building a World-Leading AI and Data Strategy for an Inclusive Scotland by SCDI and partners; a new Addressing inclusion guide for teachers on challenging racism in schools by the Coalition for Racial Equality & Rights and respectme; and a discussion paper on Disabled students at university by the Commissioner for Fair Access.

Other reports to highlight this month include:

And look out for affordable coworking spaces opening up in libraries across the country, thanks to SLIC’s imaginative new Scottish Coworking Network. Take it from one who knows: coworking is to be recommended for micro-businesses, freelancers or start-ups – it absolutely creates opportunities for cross-fertilisation of learning and ideas!

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