Scottish Government's strategy for 16+ education
Last week the Scottish Government published its proposals for the development of education and training for the over 16s. The proposals in the document are for consultation until mid-December. The proposals are published prior to the introduction of new legislation where that is required.
Readers may recall that the Scottish Government published an earlier discussion paper on higher education towards the end of 2010, and PASCAL, along with many others, submitted a paper in response in February 2011.That PASCAL submission emphasised a number of points, including the importance of HE regional engagement, the need for more flexible access routes, improvements to progression arrangements, mainstreaming links between HE and employability through business links to enhance student learning and promote business innovation, and we suggested that efficiencies in funding could be achieved through partnership arrangements with stakeholders.
It is pleasing to see that many of these themes are picked up in the new pre-legislative document. The new document is wide ranging: a summary of its proposals can be found on pages 64-67, and are focussed on 6 main areas:
- efficient, flexible learner journeys
- widening access to post-16 learning
- aligning non-advanced learning and skills with jobs and growth
- maintaining Scotland as a global learner in university research
- fair and affordable student support arrangement, and
- effective and sustainable delivery.
Each of these areas contains a significant list of proposals, too many to dscuss here, but among them are proposals to ensure all 16-19 year olds have a place in post-16 education and training, to ensure the iimplementation of 16+ Learning Choices (imporoved careers guyidance) for all young people, and to consider legislation to create a statutory framework guarenteeing articulation from college to university where there is a clear curricular fit.
An interesting stress is placed on meeting the needs of regions. The Funding Council is to be asked to allocate resources to meet the needs of regions, put new expectations on colleges to plan courses for careers in industries where employment is available, and develop a range of employer engagement models, including voluntary training levies. The regional focus is strengthened further by asking the funding council to move towards regionalisation of colleges, whilst protecting access-level provision locally.
The Funding Council is asked to encourage universities to differentiate themselves, with institutions focussing on different markets and building on their strengths. Consideration is to be given as to how overlaps in provision can be removed through greater collaboration between HE providers, or even mergers.
PASCAL will now move to prepare a submission to this new consultation document. It does so from a unique position following the PURE programme. The most recent regional study, in the Glasgow region, has recently been completed, and provides an excellent evidence base on which to offer informed comment on these proposals, many of which relate directly to issues identified in the Glasgow study, and in other PURE regions.
This is a huge opportunity to bring the outcome from PURE for consideration in this emerging policy context. I may well call on the assistance of associates to help put PASCAL's submission together over the next 8 weeks.