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.

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Informed Scotland April 2018 – How good is our learning & skills?


The Easter holidays contributed to a slightly calmer learning & skills landscape in April, although there was no shortage of important developments to share.

Interesting items to look out for include Education Scotland’s How Good is OUR School? to support pupils’ involvement in self-evaluation and improvement; analysis of responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its Education (Scotland) Bill proposals; and an STUC/Scottish Government report on the positive and negative potential of Technological Change and the Scottish Labour Market.

April saw the launch of the Fair Start Scotland devolved employment service, the newly merged UK Research & Innovation and Tech Nation bodies, and the Workforce Development Trust‘s rescue of People 1st sector skills body from administration.

There were new qualifications from the SQA in childminding, developed with the Scottish Childminding Association, and in boat building & repair, developed with British Marine Scotland, plus new Awards in British Sign Language (BSL) are on the way for learners in schools and colleges.

Numerous agreements were made with organisations and institutions in China, following a ministerial delegation with a focus on education & skills. Collaboration agreements included with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at Heriot-Watt University, on healthcare with University of Edinburgh and on video gaming with Abertay University. And University of the West of Scotland was accredited as an Overseas Training & Collaborative Organisation.

Events-wise, we took copies of Informed Scotland for delegates at Newbattle Abbey College’s national adult learning conference, where the focus was on guidance for adult learners. And keep an eye on our Calendar for a learning-packed week coming up this month:

With so many themes competing for the spotlight, whether by design or coincidence, it’s to be hoped they can all achieve their desired goals… However, the winner is certain to be learning for all!

Welcome to our new subscribers from further & higher education and local authorities! Why not join them and keep yourself or your organisation better informed about what’s happening in learning & skills in Scotland? Find out how to subscribe here or contact to receive a recent copy of the digest.

Informed Scotland March 2018 – Cyber resilience & learner journeys


The main item that cut right across the landscape in March was the Scottish Government’s new Learning and Skills Action Plan for Cyber Resilience 2018–20 – a roasting hot topic in anyone’s book. With actions for almost everyone – from early years to community learning & development, business to parents, for schools, colleges and universities, from volunteers to specialists – we’ve included all 37 in an Annex for ease of reference.

It’s not surprising that apprenticeships made the cover, due to the flurry of activity for the annual Scottish Apprenticeship Week. Highlights included Skills Development Scotland’s first report on progress in the Foundation Apprenticeship programme, and a paper from FSB Scotland challenging government to see apprenticeships from a small business perspective.

Other interesting reports to delve into this month include:

Plus there’s the usual round up of statistics, including on higher education students & qualifiers and college staffing from the Scottish Funding Council, and drop-out rates from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

There are numerous consultations seeking your views – including on early learning & childcare, on women in STEM, on the new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland, and to find out what 15–24 year-olds think of the support they receive. And of course there are plenty of new partnerships, organisations, resources, courses, appointments and funds, as well as a few departures.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish the very best to Gillian Hamilton and #TeamSCEL as they take their collaborative Scottish College for Educational Leadership programmes to join Education Scotland. Regularly described as a breath of fresh air in Scottish education, SCEL has achieved so much in a short four years. It was a pleasure to work with them on the Informed Scotland Leadership Special and play a small part in their journey!

Welcome to our new subscribers from further & higher education and local authorities! Why not join them and keep yourself or your organisation better informed about what’s happening in learning & skills in Scotland? Find out how to subscribe here or contact to receive a recent copy of the digest.

Informed Scotland February 2018 – Creativity & the Year of Young People


February was a quieter month for learning & skills – in case you’re wondering, we haven’t said that since April 2017!

A couple of topics in particular seemed to permeate the landscape.

The Year of Young People

As expected, YOYP2018 is having an impact on activities, and not just at the level of ‘badging’ existing initiatives – for example:

Creativity & Creative Industries

While support for creativity has been hitting the headlines in recent weeks, there’s been plenty of new learning & skills activities focused on promoting creative industries and creativity. There are new Creative Traineeships from Creative Scotland, a new Creative Skillset trainee programme for accounting in film production, support for a Gaelic media training centre, plus a Nesta report demonstrating the importance of creative industries for local economies. Then there’s a new book showcasing creative writing by SQA candidates, a new expressive arts resource for early years from the Care Inspectorate, and makerspaces being created in Stirling Council schools.

As usual there are numerous other interesting reports to highlight. A Kineo review describes current trends in learning & development, a Sutton Trust study examines ‘inequalities in student mobility’, SCDI makes recommendations for education on ‘harness[ing] the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, and a Eurydice review compares teaching careers across Europe.

And that was a quieter month…!

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Informed Scotland Dec 17/Jan 18 – Collaborating for improvement & innovation


There used to be a festive-season ‘lull’ in Scottish learning & skills activity. Not any more! As a result, we’ve just published another bumper edition, packed with must-read items.

The words collaborate, collaboration and collaborative(s) crop up over 20 times in the latest issue of Informed Scotland. Organisations are working together for improvement, innovation, learning and leadership; to transform skills and productivity; and across sectors and borders. Music to our ears!

Plans were announced for a new National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland, and a new Northern Innovation Hub is to be led by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, including a focus on technology and young people.

The Economic & Social Research Council set up a new Productivity Insights Network involving Strathclyde, Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian Universities among others. And a new Teaching Innovation & Learning Enhancement (TILE) network was created at the University of Dundee, with interesting events already planned.

As well as the annual raft of school, college and university statistics, there are numerous key reports to highlight. These include Skills Development Scotland’s first Skills Investment Plan for the Early Learning & Childcare sectorGathering views on probationer teachers’ readiness to teach from the Scottish Government; and the first progress reports from the Commissioner for Fair Access, the Making Maths Count Group, and on the Scottish Funding Council’s Gender Action Plan.

Thanks to Scotland’s Learning Partnership for drawing our attention to What Works Scotland’s thought-provoking ‘Hard to reach’ or ‘easy to ignore’? review of equality in community engagement. @SLPLearn tweeted: ‘We had to stop using the term hard to reach learners as our adult learners’ forum members told us, “we’re not hard to reach – it’s the services we need that are hard to reach”‘.

The fifth annual Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics list, plus a round-up of last year’s activity, are included in an Annex to the digest. You can also listen to an interview on Radio EDUtalk, when Angela and David Noble explored the stories behind the list, and looked at what’s on the horizon for 2018.

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