Happy Christmas & heaps of thanks!

It’s time to say a big thank you to our wonderful clients, associates and coworkers after another busy year for AJ Enterprises!

We’ve been hard at work keeping Informed Scotland subscribers up to date with the changes and challenges in learning & skills throughout 2018.

As well as the monthly digests, we’ve provided Annexes with detailed actions from three key Scottish Government reports, and published the sixth annual Organisations & People Special.

Many thanks to our subscribers for the great feedback and for spreading the word about what we do! Also thanks to Geoff Leask of Young Enterprise Scotland and Sarah Philp of Osiris Educational for their enlightening guest blog posts, and special thanks to Janey Boyd at Mamook Graphics for designing new covers for Informed’s sixth anniversary!

We continued to promote hundreds of events via the Learning & Skills Calendar, and managed to attend a few ourselves.

We shared copies of Informed with delegates at Newbattle Abbey College’s national adult learning conference in April, and the West Lothian Inclusion & Wellbeing Service Partnership Planning Event in May. Thanks too to General Teaching Council for Scotland for displaying the Informed flier on their stand at the Scottish Learning Festival, and to the Graduate Engineer Show in Derby for featuring our advert in this year’s show programme. And thanks to David Noble for the invite back onto Radio EDUtalk to review the hottest learning & skills topics of 2017, and to look ahead to 2018. 

We’ve also shared information widely via social media@InformedScot now has over 3,700 followers on Twitter, up 400 from this time last year, and over 400 followers on Instagram, up 170 – thanks to all our engaged followers!

It was a pleasure to continue working closely with London-based associate, Elaine Hendry of emh connect, particularly on the quarterly Skills Research Digest that we produce jointly for Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy. 

Turning to other business, we’ve provided communications, copy-writing, editing and proofreading, research and horizon scanning services to old and new clients, with regulars including the global company Macmillan Education, Winmat Publishers in Ghana and Beyond Green here in Edinburgh. 

Personal thanks are owed to associates it has been a pleasure to work with this year, including Kirstin who helped look after our Newbattle conference stand, and to Hannah at the start and Sarah at the end of 2018 for helping to keep the Events Calendar updated. Thanks also to supportive fellow local members of the Society for Editors & Proofreaders, particularly Lesley Ellen and Cathy Tingle – due to their persistent encouragement, I achieved Advanced Professional Member status in March!

Finally, I’ve enjoyed another year of coworking alongside a bunch of creative, talented people in Evergreen Studio in Edinburgh’s Old Town – thanks for the camaraderie, support, technical advice – and the regular sweet treats!

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

Email info@ajenterprises.co.uk for more information about any of the above, to subscribe to Informed Scotland, or to discuss how we could support your work in 2019.

Informed Scotland November 2018 – Diversity for excellence


Diversity and inclusion were common themes across the learning & skills landscape in November.

From increasing ethnic and gender diversity among teachers, construction workers, engineers, interns and university boards, to teaching LGBTI equality and inclusion in schools, and recognising the skills of refugees and asylum seekers.

Check out Advance HE’s Diversity Principles and Board Recruitment Frameworks, Adopt an Intern’s Diversity Works, Construction Scotland’s new strategy, the National Centre for Universities & Business report on Engineering Skills and Education, Scottish Government’s Teaching in a diverse Scotland report and the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group’s endorsed recommendations, plus Open University in Scotland’s report on its Refugees’ Educational Resources project.

Other items worth highlighting this month include:

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

Informed Scotland October 2018 – Skills: untapped, mismatched & ‘meta’


October was a busy month for meaty, fascinating reports on a range of learning & skills themes.

Word of the month was ‘meta-skills’ – or should that be ‘meta skills’ or ‘metaskills’? Spelling isn’t the main bone of contention here, so it’s good to see that defining these higher-order skills is an action in the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board’s Strategic Plan, published last month. (Anyone else reminded of extensive debates about the definition of core/key skills…?)

As well as the usual annual studies, evaluations, outcome agreements and statistics, other reports worth exploring in detail include:

Among several developments, a new Skills & Employability Leadership Group is being set up by SCDI, chaired by Skills Development Scotland, and a new Scottish Government Learner Panel of 30 young people will help to shape educational policy and practice. There’s a new Men in Childcare Challenge Fund, aiming to increase the number of men in early learning & childcare; a new SQA Mental Health & Wellbeing Award; and YouthLink Scotland is launching a new Youth Work & Schools partnership programme.

This is the tip of the information iceberg: become an Informed Scotland subscriber so you can keep on top of all the developments. Email info@ajenterprises.co.uk to request a sample copy.

Check out our latest guest blog post, Powerful professional learning by Sarah Philp, Director of Learning Scotland for Osiris Educational.

Powerful professional learning

by Sarah Philp, Director of Learning Scotland, Osiris Educational. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.’  – Aristotle

We are all on a journey seeking ‘Excellence and Equity’, and while there are few who would deny these are worth striving for, this certainly does not make them easy to achieve.

In the context of education, we know that what happens in the classroom matters and we have a good history of supporting teacher professional learning in Scotland. That said, we still have some work to do. We need to make sure that we don’t get distracted and lose our focus on learning and teaching, and on ensuring that teachers have access to the highest quality professional learning.

Common barriers to changing our practice or engaging in learning, whatever line of work we might be in, are:

  • Cognitive overload – I’m sure we can all recognise this feeling, that we can’t take on board new or additional information because we are overwhelmed.
  • Relational trust – the glue that holds an organisation together. Having high relational trust allows us to take risks, to say we don’t know and to be open to engaging in learning.
  • Accurate self-perception – the difference between our own assessment of our performance or impact and our actual performance or impact.

We need to be aware of these potential barriers and actively build a culture of learning with these in mind.

Before joining Osiris Educational, I was Principal Educational Psychologist with Midlothian Council. One of the core functions of an educational psychologist is to provide professional learning. It has been many years since we moved away from the tendency for this to be delivered as a ‘twilight’ session on a particular ‘topic’. We know this does not work, and we know it doesn’t work for the reasons above.

Professional learning has shifted away from a focus on one-off events as the main delivery mechanism, to a much more dynamic model which aims to reflect and meet the needs of all learners at different stages in the learning process.

Professional learning is only as good as the impact it leads to for the learners in our classrooms. I guess it’s the ‘So what?’ and ‘What now?’ questions – if we don’t create opportunities for teachers to engage with these questions alongside their learning experience then we will fail to see the impact for our learners.

There is no short cut to powerful professional learning.

It needs time and energy from those providing it, those engaging in it and those supporting it at the system level.

The Osiris Teacher Intervention (OTI), one of our professional learning programmes, works with teachers to build the habit of excellence in learning and teaching through the following processes:

  • Building clarity – understanding what excellence really looks like
  • Reflexivity – reflecting on practice using video (it might be scary at first but it is incredibly powerful)
  • Levelling up – being clear about the incremental steps needed to ensure improvement and develop new habits and norms.

We also support school leaders through a leadership programme to develop a culture of effective professional learning across their school, using the key principles of what makes OTI so impactful.

Both of these programmes work well alongside the national model of professional learning launched by Education Scotland at the Scottish Learning Festival in September 2018.

According to the model, professional learning should be:

  • Challenging, and develop thinking, knowledge, skills and understanding
  • Underpinned by developing skills of enquiry and criticality
  • Interactive, reflective and involve learning with others.

We couldn’t agree more and we look forward to using this model more in the future.

For further information contact Sarah at sphilp@osiriseducational.co.uk
Website: https://osiriseducational.co.uk/impact-teach-scotland
Twitter: @sphilp2 and @OsirisEduScot  Facebook: @osiriseducational
Osiris Educational  YouTube: Osiris Educational

Read previous guest blogs in the series, including those from Young Enterprise Scotland, Children’s University Scotland, GTC Scotland, SCEL, Clyde Gateway and EDT Scotland.

Informed Scotland September 2018 – Looking beyond the headlines


The new academic session began relatively calmly for learning & skills after a long, hectic summer.

The Scottish Government continues to refer to its commitment to education as its ‘defining mission’ in its 2018–19 annual programme, Delivering for today, investing for tomorrow.

The hottest topic in September, however, was the continuing debate over the future of Scottish National Standardised Assessments in Primary 1. MSPs voted to halt them, but Cabinet Secretary John Swinney advised schools to continue with existing plans.

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

There’s a new Fintech Skills Academy in Fife, a new national Developing the Young Workforce website. And Scotland’s new design museum, V&A Dundee, opened to much acclaim, offering learning opportunities galore.

Favourite feedback last month came from Natalie Phillips, Education, Business & Community Growth Project Manager at Clyde Gateway: ‘Excellent publication which enables us to keep well briefed and informed on all important education, business and skills updates! I can’t recommend it enough!

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