Informed Scotland June 2021 – The future of school & tertiary education

Issue 92 includes key guidance up to and including 9 July.

The hottest topic in June was the final report of the OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence, with the Scottish Government accepting all 12 recommendations and announcing significant changes ahead for the qualifications, curriculum and inspection bodies. We’ve provided our subscribers with a helpful Annex containing the recommendations and response in full.

Had it not been for the above, the Scottish Funding Council’s review of tertiary education & research would have taken the headlines with its final report. We’ll have to wait until September for the Scottish Government’s response to this one, however.

These weren’t the only major reports; take a look at:

Plus there was the usual batch of statistical reports and surveys, including on school leavers, looked after children, attainment, apprenticeships, students and graduates. 

We don’t just cover reports and big announcements… On an enterprising, musical note, the University of the West of Scotland launched Damfino Records, a record label to be run by students. It’s not the first though: Edinburgh Napier University students launched Mirror Glass Records in May 2021, Aberdeen University created Vox Regis in 2016 – and Glasgow Kelvin College launched Electric Honey in 1992! Did I miss any? Any before 1992?

Want to keep on top of all the developments? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary copy from Angela and discover what you’re missing.

Informed Scotland May 2021 – National Qualifications & rethinking assessment

Issue 91 includes key guidance up to and including 5 June.

This edition marks nine years since the first issue of Informed Scotland. With youth unemployment currently at 8.0%, it’s reassuring to be reminded that, as well as being down from 12.0% last year, in May 2012 it was a shocking 23.1%.

It was good to see the Scottish Government publishing the Scottish Employer Skills Survey [ESS] 2020, after opting out of the last UK-wide version.

Interestingly, Informed 1 reported on the first survey, ESS 2011, published by the much missed UKCES. Back then, 14% of vacancies were due to skills shortages – in the current survey that was up to 21%. Conversely, fewer employers currently have skills gaps among the workforce (12%, vs 16% in 2011), and fewer have underutilised/over-skilled/over-qualified staff (33%, vs 58%).

A number of the new Scottish Government’s plans and priorities are relevant to learning & skills. In her 26 May Priorities of Government Statement, the First Minister said that ‘support for skills and young people is part of our wider mission to create a fairer Scotland’. (Informed 91 also includes a list of relevant Cabinet members and Parliament spokespeople for our subscribers’ ease of reference.)

But the main talking point has been the SQA’s National Qualifications – the controversial alternative certification model and appeals service for 2020/21 – swiftly followed by the announcement that reforms are planned for the SQA and Education Scotland. Meanwhile in higher education, a Jisc and Emerge Education Rethinking assessment report is encouraging universities to take the opportunity of the pandemic to make assessment ‘more relevant, adaptable and trustworthy’. Time perhaps for some cross-fertilisation of thinking and approaches.

Other interesting reports to highlight: on work experience during a crisis by Prospects, the tech sector by ScotlandIS, the challenges facing universities by the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee, colleges’ financial challenges by Audit Scotland, and digital skills by Lloyds Bank.

Want to keep on top of all the developments? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary copy from Angela and discover what you’re missing.

Informed Scotland April 2021 – The disproportionate impact of COVID-19

Issue 90 includes key guidance up to and including 6 May.

With political lockdown in place for the Scottish Parliament elections, April was the quietest month for learning & skills in a while. That said, there was no shortage of developments and reports to cover.

A number of reports provide evidence of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the learning and employment experiences of young people, and on those Skills Development Scotland (SDS) refers to as ‘equality groups’ – women, and minority ethnic, disabled and disadvantaged people. The reports include:

  • SDS’s Equality Evidence Review, on schools, FE, HE and the labour market
  • The Darkest Hour? by the Centre for Research on Learning & Life Chances, UCL Institute of Education, on the learning experiences, wellbeing and expectations of 16 to 25 year-olds during lockdown
  • Uneven steps by the Resolution Foundation, on changes in youth unemployment and study.

Away from Covid-19, these reports on HE admissions, school policies and artificial intelligence are well worth a read:

Many thanks to those who sent positive comments about our Election Extra last month – click here to download your free copy.

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber to keep on top of all the developments. Email [email protected] to request the latest edition.

Informed Scotland Scottish Parliament Election Extra 2021

Image is © Andrew Mackie

Ahead of each major election we provide Informed Scotland subscribers with a brief scan of manifestos and resources focusing on or highlighting learning and skills issues.

The Scottish Parliament Election Extra 2021 has links to:

  • Manifestos, including from Children in Scotland, the EIS, ADES, University & College Union Scotland, Universities Scotland, the OU in Scotland, CIPD Scotland, YouthLink Scotland the CBI, FSB and the Commission on School Reform
  • Resources, such as Education Scotland’s ‘You decide’ on political literacy, Young Scot’s ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Scottish Parliament Election’, and the Electoral Commission’s Education handbook for teachers of 14–18 year-olds
  • Campaigns such as CILIP’s #LibrariesAreEssential and Enable Scotland’s #ENABLEThevote for people with a learning disability
  • Summaries of pledges from the main parties published by organisations including BBC Scotland, Tes Scotland and Wonkhe.

Not a subscriber? Click here to download your free copy.

Become an Informed Scotland subscriber to keep on top of all the developments. Email [email protected]terprises.co.uk to request the latest edition.

Informed Scotland March 2021 – Attainment gap, skills gaps & diversity

Issue 89 includes key announcements and guidance up to and including 8 April.

March was another busy month, with the added pile of strategies and manifestos published ahead of the Scottish Parliament election. Four key themes dominated:

The poverty-related attainment gap, with A report on progress 2016–2021 from the Scottish Government, and a separate progress report from Audit Scotland.

Race and diversity featured across the landscape. Two reports were published by the Scottish Government on the teaching profession – a progress report on diversity and the first of a new annual data report on the same topic; and the Scottish Funding Council launched new resources on tackling racism on campus.

Digital and cyber security skills, including a refreshed digital strategy and new AI strategy for Scotland; a UK Government report on Cyber security skills in the UK labour market; plus a Learning & Work report on the digital skills gap.

A range of thought-provoking and challenging reports on learning, teaching and assessment policy for Scottish schools:

Also look out for UCAS’s report on what influences the education choices of school leavers.

With the Scottish Parliament election looming, we’ll be publishing a brief Election Extra later this month with links to manifestos and resources relevant to learning & skills.

Want to keep on top of all the developments? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary copy and discover what you’re missing.

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