2021 reflections & thanks

AJ Enterprises has been busy throughout another challenging year. Angela was fortunate to continue to work with and support some fabulous clients, associates and coworkers.

Informed Scotland subscribers were kept up to date with learning & skills across the landscape, including the impact of Covid-19. As well as the monthly digests, I published a Scottish Parliament Election Extra in April, available free to all, and the ninth annual Organisations & People Special, for subscribers only, in August. The latter now has links to over 400 organisations – more than twice as many as in the first edition in 2013.

Many thanks to each subscriber, from large organisations to concessions, new and long-standing, for your continued interest, feedback and for spreading the word about the benefits of being kept well informed.

On social media I’ve kept over 4,400 followers regularly updated via @InformedScot on Twitter – thanks to all our engaged followers. Thanks also to those who’ve shared and commented on posts on LinkedIn. And despite a very quiet year on Instagram, InformedScot now has over 800 followers.

The Learning & Skills Events Calendar, a popular resource pre-pandemic, has continued to keep a low profile, only listing a few rare in-person events plus themed weeks and days. This will be kept under review with the aim of resuming it in full when more face-to-face events hopefully return in 2022.

In November I was invited to come out from behind the scenes to lead the Q&A session of the 2021 David Raffe Memorial Lecture given by Prof Ewart Keep on the theme ‘transitions from learning to earning…’. Many thanks to Cathy Howieson and Linda Croxford of CES, University of Edinburgh, for the invitation, to Ewart for the excellent lecture, and to Prof Richard Andrews, Head of Moray House School of Education & Sport, for his fulsome praise of Informed Scotland in his introduction.

It was a pleasure to continue working with London-based associate Elaine Hendry of emh connect, including on the quarterly Skills Research Digest that we’ve produced jointly for Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy since 2017. 2022 will mark 10 years since Elaine and I each took the plunge and began producing learning & skills digests – me Informed Scotland and Elaine the UK Digest. More on that next year!

I’ve enjoyed providing research, copyediting and proofreading services to clients old and new. Particular thanks to Ross of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) as he heads for new adventures next year. Thanks also to supportive fellow local members of the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading (CIEP), including Edinburgh group coordinators Margaret and Sarah.

Working from home was the norm for most of 2021. For the first few months, Isla McCrone continued the lifeline online coworking sessions she began in spring 2020. Thanks to Isla for helping to keep me and my virtual coworkers focused. I managed just four weeks back at my Evergreen Studio (pictured) desk before restrictions returned. It reminded me how much I miss coworking in the same space as other hardworking, friendly folk, so I’ll be back as soon as it’s safe to return. Thanks to Studio owner Robin for his generosity and understanding, and James for keeping the place going.

The annual Informed Scotland Hottest Topics in Scottish Learning & Skills will be shared here in January – see what made the list this year – any predictions?

Email [email protected] for more information about any of the above, to subscribe to Informed Scotland, or to discuss how we could support your work in 2022.

Informed Scotland November 2021 – The wellbeing of all in learning & skills

Issue 96 includes key Covid-19 guidance up to and including 10 December.

Wellbeing was a main theme across the learning & skills landscape in November. Organisations are examining or aiming to support the (mental, physical and/or social) wellbeing of children & young people, students at various ages and stages, or teachers, lecturers and academics. For example:

Digital technology in teaching and learning was also a common theme. For schools, there were numerous items on the internet of things, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics and cyber resilience. And for further & higher education, there was Jisc’s Teaching staff digital experience insights survey plus Universities UK’s Lessons from the pandemic: Making the most of technologies in teaching.

And as awareness of the pandemic’s impact continues to grow, these reports on the young workforce are also worth highlighting:

On the theme of ‘transitions from learning to earning…’, a recording of the 2021 David Raffe Memorial Lecture by Prof Ewart Keep is now available on the University of Edinburgh’s website. Informed Scotland’s Angela Gardner led the Q&A session, and was delighted by the ringing endorsement of the digest given by Head of Moray House School of Education & Sport, Prof Richard Andrews, in his introduction.

Finally, congratulations to everyone at the Children’s University Scotland charity following its relaunch as the wonderfully named Curiosity Collective, with its mission ‘to give children the freedom to explore a world of learning beyond the classroom’.

The next issue will be the Dec/Jan edition out in February 2022. However in January I’ll be taking the eighth annual stocktake of Learning & Skills ‘Hottest Topics’ from Informed covers in 2021.

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

Informed Scotland October 2021 – Reviews, reforms & climate change

Issue 95 includes key Covid-19 guidance up to and including 5 November.

October was a quieter month than usual for learning & skills – the slimmest edition of Informed Scotland since October 2019 is testimony to that.

Reviews and reforms are occupying minds across the landscape. Skills Development Scotland published research and white papers to inform its Career Review. The Scottish Government published an ‘implementation framework’ and further announcements for its school education reform. And published its response to the Scottish Funding Council’s Review of Tertiary Education & Research.

Other items worth drawing your attention to:

This is the tip of the information iceberg. Become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email [email protected] to request the latest copy.

Informed Scotland September 2021 – Recover, reform & reskill

Issue 94 includes key COVID-19 guidance up to and including 11 October.

A few topics in particular took centre stage:

Education reform for the school sector, with a consultation to inform the review of Education Scotland and the SQA led by Prof Ken Muir having begun in earnest.

COVID-19 recovery, as the Scottish Government set out 40 key actions for education as part of its recovery strategy.

LGBT inclusive education, as Scotland claims to be the first country in the world to ‘embed’ it across the school curriculum. See the new website managed by Time for Inclusive Education. A UCAS report also examined the experience of LGBT+ applicants to university.

Skills shortages, with those demanded by the ‘electrification revolution’ in transport and energy highlighted in a report by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, University of Warwick Manufacturing Group and Faraday Institution. And the annual Tech Nation Jobs and Skills report shone a light on the tech sector’s ever-increasing demand for skilled people.

The COP26 Climate Change Conference, with all sectors across the learning & skills landscape involved in some way. From Play Scotland‘s Moths to a Flame art installation, to The Moment with Children’s Parliament & Scottish Youth Parliament, a UN Conference of Youth, a Live at COP26 learning for a sustainable future course on FutureLearn, and a new online platform with learning resources to support Youth Work Champions.

Also look out for:

A date for your diary

Book your place at the fourth annual David Raffe Memorial Lecture, to be delivered by Prof Ewart Keep on ‘transitions from learning to earning and on the wider relationship between education and the labour market’. It takes place online on 3 November hosted by Moray House School of Education & Sport. Informed Scotland’s Angela Gardner will lead the Q&A session.

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 July/August 2021 – Innovation, exams & libraries

Issue 93 includes key COVID-19 guidance up to and including 13 September.

National Qualifications results day passed by quietly this summer. However, the debate about the future of exams continues to grow, sparked by the publication of the OECD’s report on Upper-secondary education student assessment in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Government.

Three strategies relevant to learning & skills in Scotland were published, two by the UK Government on Innovation and R&D People & Culture.

The other was a new five-year Public Library Strategy for Scotland by SLIC. As a firm believer in the power of libraries, I’m happy to spread the word about a Support our Libraries campaign launched by Scotland on Sunday to ‘highlight their work, tell their stories and push for their futures’. Also look out for Libraries Week organised by CILIP from 4–10 October.

However, at a time when lifelong learning is so vital, it’s particularly sad that Scotland’s Learning Partnership has had to cancel the 2021 Adult Learners’ Week in Scotland due to uncertainty over funding – this would have been its 30th anniversary year.

Other interesting reports to highlight:

A date for your diary

Registration is open for the fourth annual David Raffe Memorial Lecture, to be delivered by Prof Ewart Keep on ‘transitions from learning to earning and on the wider relationship between education and the labour market’. It will take place online on 3 November hosted by Moray House School of Education & Sport, and Informed Scotland’s Angela Gardner has been asked to lead the Q&A session.

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.

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