Informed Scotland October 2019 – Equity, diversity & pause for thought


It’s extremely rare, but last month was a quiet one for learning & skills in Scotland. With mid-term holidays and the nation’s attention focused on… let’s just call them ‘other matters’, it wasn’t too surprising. Or perhaps the relentless pace of change and intensity of activity across the learning & skills landscape finally caught up with everyone, and this was the breather we all needed.

Although there were no major announcements, a number of items are well worth highlighting:

Once again, numerous consultations and surveys are seeking your input. There’s a Scottish Government adult learning survey, Education Scotland’s annual STEM professional learning survey, plus QAA’s consultation on transnational education and the Scottish Parliament’s consultation on a proposed Disabled Children & Young People (Transitions) (Scotland) Bill.

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 where we’ve just hit 4,000 followers!

Informed Scotland September 2019 – Learning & skills for a better future


One of the main themes in September was ‘being better prepared for the future’, spearheaded by the Scottish Government’s new Future Skills Action Plan.

The sense of urgency we reported last month has grown, affected no doubt by heightened public concern about the climate ‘emergency’, the Brexit ‘crisis’ and the ‘threat’ of technology – all intrinsically linked to learning and skills.

The David Hume Institute asked Who will do the jobs? with a shortage of workers forecast for Scotland, while Hays’ annual Global Skills Index asked How can supply keep up with demand? and PWC’s Upskilling Hopes and Fears report asked for workers’ views on the impact of automation and technology.

Emphasis has shifted from debating what the future might hold, to acting now – trying to maximise opportunities and avoid worst-case scenarios by developing skills, reshaping education and encouraging lifelong learning.

The Future Skills Action Plan, for example, includes proposals for a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, and the intention to address skills gaps and shortages as a central part of the response to Brexit.

The Scottish Government’s new annual programme has a ‘continued focus on education and closing the attainment gap as [its] top priority’, although the phrase ‘defining mission’ doesn’t appear this year. This time last year the attention was on national assessments in Primary 1 – this year all eyes are on S4 to S6, with a Senior Phase review announced, following publication of a survey of headteachers and the Scottish Parliament Education & Skills Committee’s Subject choices in schools report of its inquiry.

Numerous consultations and reviews are seeking your input, including:

These are just highlights become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland July/August 2019 – Upskilling, reskilling & future planning


Learning & skills was a hive of hot topics over summer 2019. We could have added more to those listed on the cover, such as education & business engagement, mental health & wellbeing, community learning & development, STEM and skills for rural Scotland.

The words of the season were ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’.

The need to prepare those already in the workplace for automation, future skills and work has taken on greater urgency as the pace of significant change increases. Add to that the shortage of ready-skilled, available candidates, exacerbated by Brexit uncertainty, and unsurprisingly we will see more of this over the months ahead.

In the meantime take a look at Scottish Funding Council’s guidance for a new Upskilling Fund for universities, and a Skills Development Scotland report on reskilling and upskilling for ecommerce.

Other studies, surveys and statistics worth seeking out:

Fabulous feedback from a subscriber for our Organisations & People Special published earlier this month: I just wanted to thank you for this. It is an amazing piece of work, hugely useful.

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

Who’s where? A snapshot of the Scottish learning & skills landscape

The seventh annual Informed Scotland Organisations & People Special has just 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.

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 and regional improvement collaboratives
  • Colleges and universities
  • Teacher education institutions
  • Developing the Young Workforce regional groups
  • Knowledge exchange & innovation centres.

This year there are links to over 380 organisations, up 20 from 2018 and more than twice as many as in the first edition in 2013.

There have been many changes since last year’s edition, including new organisations, name changes, mergers and closures, and new appointments, promotions, movements and retirements.

New organisations include the under-development National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) along with NMIS Skills, Screen Scotland set up by Creative Scotland, Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland and the V&A Dundee. Other new developments include two additional universities offering teacher education courses for the first time, and the first Scotland Director appointed for WorldSkills UK.

Gone are the Tech Partnership, National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Scottish Film Education and Scottish Waterways Trust, although much of their work has been picked up by other bodies including City & Guilds Group, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Screen Scotland.

Subscribers receive the Special as a bonus and find it a useful addition to their regular monthly digests, as demonstrated by feedback already received for the new edition: ‘This is great. So useful to have all these key contacts updated and in a single document’.

All new subscribers receive a copy: join the growing list of Informed Scotland subscribers and stay well informed. Email to request a sample copy.

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.

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