Informed Scotland February 2020 – Strategies, guidance, reviews & inquiries


For a short(ish) month there was plenty happening, with numerous reports, strategies and announcements across the landscape.

Major reports worth exploring in detail include:

Our favourite new word of the month was ‘microcredentials’ – although perhaps the term is familiar to others? Check out the new microcredentials courses on the FutureLearn website, including one for teachers on mental health in the curriculum.

Want to keep on top of all the developments? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber. Email to request a sample copy.

Informed Scotland Dec19/Jan20 – Comparing, consulting, careers & concerns


School education has been a political hot potato in the last two months, with aspects of attainment and international comparisons in particular creating headlines and much debate.

Meanwhile Brexit is back as one of our hot topics, with concerns for skills shortages ramping up, and various organisations looking to reassure or seeking reassurances.

As well as the usual numerous statistical reports and annual reviews, other items to look out for include:

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 copy of the latest issue.

Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics 2019

We’re delighted to present the seventh annual list of Learning & Skills ‘Hot Topics’ that made it onto the cover of Informed Scotland over the past year:

1. Digital skills (=3 in 2018)

=2. Widening & fair access (=3)

=2. Diversity, equality & inclusion (=1)

=4. Future education, skills & work (=3)

=4. Partnerships, agreements & mergers (–)

=4. Qualifications, exams & assessment (–)

=4. Science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) (=3)

=8. Apprenticeships (–)

=8. Attainment & achievement (–)

=8. Teacher education, development, standards & careers (=1)

 ‘Digital skills’ was back as the hottest topic of 2019 – it’s the only topic to have been in the top three every year since 2013 and this is the fourth time it’s occupied the number one spot. Themes keeping it there last year included training and certification, and ongoing skills shortages and gaps.

‘Widening access’ is the second of three topics to have made every annual list. It’s also been in the top three each year since 2016 although it’s never made the number one spot. The term ‘fair access’ is also often used, with the Scottish Framework for Fair Access launched in May.

‘Diversity, equality & inclusion’ was back on the list, slipping just one place after its first appearance last year as the hottest topic, covering themes such as poverty, social mobility, disadvantage, disability, care experience and ethnicity.

‘Teacher education & development’ fell out of the top three for the first time since it joined the list in 2016, and after it shared the top spot in 2018.

Thanks in part to progress reports on Graduate and Foundation Apprenticeships, ‘Apprenticeships’ was back after only missing one year, 2018, out of seven.

‘STEM’ was the third of three topics to have made every list since 2013, with its highest place being second in 2016.

There were no new topics on this year’s list, although ‘mental health & wellbeing’, ‘artificial intelligence & automation’ and ‘additional support needs & support for learning’ just missed out.

‘Skills shortages & gaps’ dropped out of the list for the first time ever, although we expect it to return in 2020. Despite expectations, ‘Brexit’ also just missed the top 10, although its impact is likely to have a growing influence on skills this year and beyond.

2020 is Scotland’s Year of Coast & Waters, however judging by previous themed years we’re not expecting to see it on next year’s list – perhaps we’ll be proved wrong…

What were your 2019 highlights? What are your predictions for 2020? Tweet us @InformedScot and we’ll share your thoughts.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to be better informed about what’s happening across learning & skills in business, schools, further & higher education, community & adult learning, and government & wider society. Contact to receive a recent sample copy and find out how to subscribe here.

Taking stock & saying thanks

Image is © Jack Zuill

Time to reflect on another busy year for AJ Enterprises and to thank clients, collaborators, contacts and coworkers who’ve helped make 2019 a success!

We’ve kept Informed Scotland subscribers up to date with learning & skills across the landscape throughout the year. As well as the monthly digests, we published a General Election Extra earlier this month and the seventh annual Organisations & People Special in September. The latter now has links to over 380 organisations, more than twice as many as in the first edition in 2013.

Many thanks to our subscribers, both new and those who’ve been with us since 2012, for spreading the word about the benefits of being kept well informed. And thanks to Janey at Mamook for some fabulous new cover designs.

We’ve promoted hundreds more events via the Learning & Skills Events Calendar, with thanks to Larisa at Media Bloom, Sarah and Prentice for keeping it updated throughout the year.

I made it to a few events in 2019, including the Scottish Learning Festival in September – thanks to the General Teaching Council for Scotland for once again displaying Informed Scotland fliers on their stand. In January I attended BETT and the Education Show in London for the first time, where it was great to spot familiar faces and promote Scottish exhibitors. And David Noble invited me back onto Radio EDUtalk to review the hottest learning & skills topics of 2018 and to preview the year ahead.

We’ve kept a wider audience regularly updated via social media@InformedScot now has over 4,000 followers on Twitter and over 500 on Instagram. Thanks to all our engaged followers.

I’ve once again enjoyed working with London-based associate Elaine Hendry, including on a fast-paced research project for EdComs at the start of the year. Our main project continues to be the quarterly Skills Research Digest which we’ve produced for Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy since 2017 – thanks again to Nicola Laverty for being a great client!

I’ve also provided research and horizon scanning, communications, copy-writing, editing and proofreading services to repeat and new clients. In March I was a first-timer at the London Book Fair and in May I travelled with fellow Edinburgh editors to Newcastle for an excellent SfEP mini-conference. As an Advanced Professional Member of SfEP I’m looking forward to it becoming the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading in 2020!

Finally, I’ve been lucky to work alongside some lovely, talented coworkers in Evergreen Studio for another year – thanks for the comradeship and support, the German and Catalan lessons, and of course the biscuits and cakes!

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 for more information about any of the above, to subscribe to Informed Scotland, or to discuss how we could support your work in 2020.

Informed Scotland November 2019 – Learning & skills making the headlines


Preparations for the General Election might have restricted some government business, but it didn’t stop the publication of a raft of reports worth highlighting on a range of topics.

In particular:

In January we’ll be taking our annual stocktake of Learning & Skills ‘Hottest Topics’ from Informed Scotland covers in 2019. This month Curriculum for Excellence was back on the cover for the first time since July/August 2016, after a critical research report by Prof Jim Scott created media and political headlines and sparked a ‘rancorous’ debate. With more headlines being generated on attainment, plus published analysis and new research underway at the University of Stirling, we suspect the topic will be ‘hot’ for a while yet.

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.