We began our school/college review by examining existing collaboration between schools and colleges in Scotland. Collaboration has served us well up till now and we wanted to build on the good work already taking place.
We complete our review with this strategy and its accompanying guide for schools and colleges as lifelong partners. They have been developed in the context of our National Priorities in Education, our lifelong learning strategy and our agenda for action set out in Ambitious, Excellent Schools.
This partnership approach recognises the breadth of A Curriculum for Excellence - a breadth that schools alone may have difficulty in delivering fully. It also acknowledges that existing school/college activity coupled with the growth over the coming years, to which we commit ourselves in this strategy, represent a fundamental re-alignment of the school and college sectors.
The different - but related - purposes of schools and colleges complement each other. However, the distinctive contribution that colleges can - and do - make to school pupils' education arises from their primary role as centres of voluntary learning for adults. To maintain the synergy of the partnership and for colleges to cater fully for the needs and aspirations of adult learners, it is essential that that ethos is not altered.
This strategy focuses on increasing and further enhancing school/college partnership to extend opportunities for pupils to access high quality experiences and gain full recognition for their learning with colleges. We will make available, in addition to existing resources, £41.5m across financial years 2005/06 to 2007/08 to support this.
Our school/college review has been a
wide-ranging and lengthy review that has encompassed a conference of 120 representatives to help frame a discursive consultation paper, consultation on that paper, consultation on the review's interim report and a draft outline strategy, the issue of a quarter of a million leaflets seeking the views of school pupils, and numerous consultation events and meetings throughout the review. Our research has examined existing school/college links and crucially the attitudes of pupils to further education courses as part of their school curriculum. This research shows that pupils generally value college learning during part of their school week.
The strategy and guide have also been informed by the work of a number of groups representing both sectors and pupil and adult student interests - the Working Group on 'Best Practice' on Planning and Management and Pupil Welfare and Support, the Working Group on Funding, the Working Group on the Qualifications of College Staff to Teach School Pupils and the Vocational Education Development Steering Group. We thank the chairs and members of the groups and all pupils, parents, practitioners as well as stakeholder organisations for their contributions to each of the phases of the review.
The success of this strategy and its accompanying guide will be measured by the success of the pupils undertaking school/college partnership activities - by their attendance, by their attainments and achievements, and by the ease of their transitions into further learning, training or employment.
It is on the solid foundation of schools and colleges working together - in sustained partnership - that we can build a lifelong learning society in Scotland.
Jim Wallace MSP
Deputy First Minister
Peter Peacock MSP
Minister for Education and Young People