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.

What are you waiting for? Become an Informed Scotland subscriber and keep on top of all the developments. Email to request a sample copy.

Scotland’s Year of Young People – grasping the opportunity

by Geoff Leask, Chief Executive, Young Enterprise Scotland. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

During a rather routine business meeting, as we headed towards the Christmas break, someone asked me, “What is Young Enterprise Scotland doing for Scotland’s Year of Young People in 2018?”

Quickly I replied, “The same as we did this year, last year and previous years, in the knowledge that Scotland’s Year of Young People gives us a great opportunity to shine a light on the enterprising talent that exists within our greatest resource (young people) and to make a case for greater participation in programmes like those offered by Young Enterprise Scotland and others”.

Year of Young People 2018 (#YOYP2018) is a wonderful occasion for all organisations to celebrate the amazing young personalities, talents and achievers that make up Scotland. It’s all about inspiring our nation through its young people’s ideas, attitudes and ambitions. We do not necessarily need to be an organisation whose area of work is with young people to get involved and help celebrate young people. This very special year is one for all organisations to get involved.

The year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will give young people in Scotland the opportunity to show the world what they’re made of. #YOYP2018 is something everyone can support (young or young-at-heart) and be immensely proud of.

At Young Enterprise Scotland, we have taken the opportunity to amplify our work by holding a ‘flagship’ event at Hampden Park on 5 and 6 June – a Festival of Youth Enterprise 2018. Over the course of the two days, 1,000 young people from primary and secondary schools and colleges, along with the business community, will engage in a series of activities designed and developed to help inspire the next generation to be aware of enterprise and the skills benefits gained from engaging in practical learning by doing activity. This year we will also hold some ‘Fringe’ events in the build up to the Festival, in several locations including Stirling and Dundee and more to be announced in coming weeks.

These events will be far stronger by the inclusion of partner organisations with a similar outlook and recognition of the value that young people bring to society in Scotland. One of the strengths of Scotland is the strong network of organisations that have the skills development of young people as an underpinning principle – and with us working collectively we can make this year very special.

If you would like to join us in celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live please reach out and let us see what we can do in collaboration!

To find out more or enquire about working in partnership, contact Geoff at
@YE_Scotland Facebook: @YoungEnterpriseScotland

Read previous guest blogs in the series, including those from Children’s University Scotland, GTC Scotland, Be Personnel, SCEL, Clyde Gateway, EDT Scotland and SCQF Partnership.

Learning & Skills in Scotland – What’s on the horizon for 2018?

In an interview for Radio EDUtalk, Angela took David Noble’s listeners on a now annual whistle-stop tour of some of the items that will be shaping Scotland’s learning & skills landscape this year.

You can listen to a podcast of the show, which also reviewed the Hottest Topics in 2017. Below are links to some of the programmes, projects and events mentioned for 2018:

National programmes, reviews, strategies & funding

Current open consultations

Resources, opportunities & courses

Themed weeks & major conferences: full list on the Events Calendar

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 Learning & Skills Hottest Topics 2017

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

1. Digital skills & inclusion (1 in 2016)

=2. Teacher education, development, shortages & recruitment (=3)

=2. Widening access (=3)

4. Future skills, learning & work (-)

=5. Apprenticeships (=3)

=5. Developing the Young Workforce (-)

=5. Gender balance & equity (=3)

=5. International collaboration & comparisons (-)

=5. Leadership (-)

=5. Science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) (2)

=5. Skills shortages & gaps (=9)

=5. Students, leavers & graduates – statistics (-)

‘Digital skills & inclusion’ was the hottest topic for the second year running. It has been in the top three every year since the list was first compiled in 2013, and this is the third time it’s occupied the number one spot.

No one will be surprised to see ‘Teacher education, development, shortages & recruitment’ so high on the list, after making mainstream news headlines in 2017. It made its first appearance on the list just last year, but we expect it to be a recurring theme in 2018. By contrast, ‘Widening access’ has been on the list every year, although this year’s joint second place is its highest position.

Five topics have made every annual list. As well as ‘Digital skills’ and ‘Widening access’, the others are ‘Apprenticeships’, ‘STEM’ and ‘Skills gaps & shortages’ – and they’re all likely to remain hot issues in 2018.

There are two first-timers on the list this year – ‘Future skills, learning & work’, the highest new entry, and ‘Students, leavers & graduates – statistics’.

As we predicted, although 2017 was Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology, none of these three topics made it onto a single Informed Scotland cover. It was a similar story last year for the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design. However, the Year of Young People 2018 has already begun to capture the imagination across the learning & skills landscape, so we are confident that it will have an influence on next year’s list.

What were your 2017 highlights? What are your predictions for 2018?

Angela will be discussing the stories behind the list in an interview for Radio EDUtalk on 16 January, in a review of 2017 and a look ahead to 2018. 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.

Merry Christmas and many thanks!

Image is © D Ormiston

Time to reflect on another busy year for AJ Enterprises and to say a bunch of thank yous to clients, associates and coworkers!

With education remaining at the heart of Scottish Government priorities, we’ve had to work harder than ever to keep Informed Scotland subscribers up to date with learning & skills in 2017. In addition to the monthly digests, we published a Leadership Special commissioned by Scottish College for Educational Leadership, a UK General Election Extra, the fifth annual Organisations & People Special, and shared interesting guest blogs.

Thanks to our subscribers for the great feedback and for spreading the word about the benefits their subscription brings.

In January, Angela reviewed the hottest learning & skills topics of 2016 on Radio EDUtalk, and looked ahead to what was in store for 2017. In September, she ran an information briefing on school education for the Blake Stevenson research team. The session was so well received that this service will be offered more widely in 2018.

We continue to promote hundreds of conferences, seminars, teachmeets, exhibitions etc. via the Learning & Skills Events Calendar. Lisa at Media Bloom kept the Calendar updated until a few weeks ago – she’s now the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy – many congratulations! And thanks to Hannah for helping with the updates while Lisa is on maternity leave.

On social media, @InformedScot now has almost 3,300 Twitter followers, up 600 from this time last year! InformedScot has a long way to go to match this on Instagram, but has attracted 230 followers in its second year.

Turning to other business, in May, we were delighted to be awarded a joint three-year contract to produce a new quarterly Skills Research Digest for Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy, in partnership with London based, long-standing associate Elaine Hendry of emh connect, who publishes the learning & skills UK Digest.

We’ve also provided communications consultancy, copy-writing, editing and proofreading services, research and horizon scanning to repeat and new clients with business interests at home and abroad, including Macmillan Education, EdComs, Sunrise Setting, Beyond Green and 3rd Horizons. Whatever the task, we’re fortunate to work with such lovely people!

Personal thanks once again to associates including Janey at Mamook Graphics (look out for her new Informed Scotland cover designs in 2018), adult learning specialist Jackie Borge, copy-writer Lewis Packwood, editor Cathy Tingle and others I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year. Thanks too to supportive fellow local members of the Society for Editors & Proofreaders and Edinburgh Editors’ Network, particularly our coordinator Lesley Ellen.

Working alongside other businesses has so many benefits. After a fab year at Hanover House (thanks to the wonderful Team Tanami), in June Angela moved into Evergreen Studio coworking space. Thanks to Sigrid, James and Shaun for the warm welcome, and for the opportunity to cowork in a creative community of talented people – and in an office with such a rich literary heritage.

Finally, thanks to Derek Ormiston for providing this year’s festive photo – you can see more of his atmospheric pics via eider.22.

The annual Informed Scotland Hottest Topics in Scottish Learning & Skills will be shared here in January. 

Email for more information about any of the above, to subscribe to Informed Scotland, or to discuss how we could support your work in 2018.