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15-24 Learner Journey Review

The 15-24 Learner Journey review

The 15-24 Learner Journey review is a programme of work, led by the Scottish Government in partnership with others, to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the 15-24 Learner Journey for all 15 to 24 year olds.  There are two drivers for the review:  learner personalisation and choice, and system efficiency.  The review will consider the 15-24 Learner Journey from the senior phase (S4-S6) leading to employment, including the stages of further and higher education in college, higher education in university, vocational training and apprenticeships.

To ensure full coverage of the senior phase, the review includes 15 year olds and focuses on the 15-24 age group in recognition that this is a critical point for young people in their learning journey and is also the point of greatest choice – and therefore potentially overlap - in provision.

Taking the starting point of the learner, the Scottish Government’s vision is for a learning system which enables efficient and effective learning journeys through:

  • informed decision making by the learner;
  • the quality, value and reach of the provision on offer to learners;
  • straightforward, seamless efficient connections between different parts of the system, including recognition of prior learning;
  • equality of access to these opportunities, including suitable learner funding.

The review will build on the key SG strategies and policies already in place in relation to the 15-24 learning system: for example, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing Young Workforce, Widening Access, Raising Attainment.

The review is taking place over two stages.  Stage 1 runs between September 2016 and end of 2017 (with research conducted over Sep 16-Feb 17). The timeframe for Stage 2, which is envisaged as the implementation phase, will be determined following the outputs from Stage 1.

The programme’s vision is to ensure all learners are on the right route to the right job, through the right course via the right information.


What will the review focus on?

  1. The 15-24 Learner Journey review will build on the key SG strategies and policies already in place in relation to the 15-24 learning system: for example, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing Young Workforce, Widening Access, Raising Attainment. The review takes as its starting point:

  • work that impacts upon the 15-24 Learner Journey that is already underway and which we need to continue.
  • work that impacts upon the 15-24 Learner Journey that is already underway and which we need to further enhance.

The review will therefore focus on:

  • New strategy, policy and activity which we need to develop in order to achieve the desired improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of the 15-24 Learner Journey. This is illustrated in the diagram below.


What will the review specifically do?

The 15-24 Learner Journey review will comprise two stages.

Stage 1

  1. Stage 1 will run until end of 2017, and will gather the evidence, test partner and stakeholder views, build the authorising environment and develop policy options.

  2. Scottish Government commenced stage 1 in September 2016 with the commissioning of research into 15-24 year olds’ experience of the learning system.

  3. Stage 1 will initiate a review of areas of the education and skills system to:

  • Establish a shared and clearly communicated evidence base about current gaps and overlaps from a young person and system perspective;

  • Present Ministers with ideas for improving current practice, policy and strategy to address this.

This will be achieved through a series of projects agreed in discussion with colleagues across Scottish Government. As with the programme as a whole, the project activity recognises the work already underway in other programmes. For example, the projects recognise the work underway as part of the Enterprise and Skills review, on access being taken forward by the SG and the Scottish Funding Council overseen by the Commission on Widening Access.

Stakeholders and public bodies are being invited to join the different project groups and help to inform their output. The areas of focus are as follows:

15-24 Learner Journey Review: Projects


Improving information, advice and application processes

This will include evaluating the cost/benefit of a learner choices and applications service which brings together student support information and the careers, advice and information system on My World of Work with UCAS, Apprenticeship on line and a new college application process.


Improving information, advice and application processes

This will include a review of current careers, advice and guidance services for learners in college and university.


Improving the ease and equity with which young people can apply to college

Recognising the work already being taken forward as part of the Commission for Widening Access, this will focus specifically on evaluating the benefits and costs/ of a common application process for colleges.




Improving the design, alignment and coherence of the 15-24 learning journey

Improving the ease with which all young people move through their learning, regardless of where they are studying.

This will include evaluating the opportunities and 15-24 Learner Journey choices in and across schools, colleges and community / third sector based learning. Identify and consider any unnecessary duplication of learning.

We will establish options for removing unnecessary repetition and maximising progression through levels of study in or between school, community, college, training and university.


Improving the system & removing unnecessary duplication

We will develop a system wide analysis of unit cost and rate of return across school, community, college, training (including employability programmes), and university.

We will use this to inform options for the future balance and method of investment. We will consider the future strategic direction of the learning system in Scotland.


15-24 Learner Journey Review Group Meeting Outcomes – 28/03/17 – City of Glasgow College

 Learner Choice and Application

  • Clarity on job opportunities to enable young people to make decisions on pathways and into jobs.
  • Better skills alignment across the system showing engagement with employment and how we engage with partners to determine local outcomes.
  • What do we want Scotland to look like in terms of substantial growth?
  • Cultural challenges ahead.  Industry not so engaged.
  • Over emphasis on university in comparison to jobs.  Individuals felt that good quality work experience is equal to a university education.
  • More exposure to work environment to make more considered choices.
  • The current landscape is considered by some to be cluttered and confusing and suggestions were made to change this to be more flexible and seamless; to make it simple.
  • Long term policies such as early years were viewed as a good move although was noted they will take time to come through.

Learner Choice and Application Colleges & Universities

  • Better regional approaches.
  • Better articulation HND into 3rd year of university.
  • Curriculum alignment, timetabling issues.
  • Challenges around travelling to other institutions for example personal confidence, care responsibilities, personal circumstances, loss of travel, and availability of transport.
  • Programmes & teachers/ lecturers working together more the drivers need to change to allow collaboration to happen.

Access & Application

  • Ensuring young people are supported to make the right choices – CIAG
  • Sustained destinations, participation measure making more use of information.
  • Better understanding of the Higher Education offer so young people reach positive destinations.
  • Inspiring young people – lack of confidence/ designing are targets capable with learner choice?
  • Importance of resilience in the future because very careers are for life.
  • Emphasis on other routes/pathways that are not academic led.
  • Curriculum needs to be more diverse for S6.
  • More work placements and additional qualifications.  Young people not encouraged to leave school unless going to a positive destination, might be better to leave earlier if there are better options.

Provision Transition/Progression

  • 1st year of university/college need to be more supported.
  • Input from employers to identify the technical skills required.
  • Understanding the value employers place on qualifications at all levels.
  • S3-S6 - stay on rate becoming higher therefor a need to make better use of these years.
  • Disadvantage for certain cohorts is already in place before they reach the age of 15.
  • Argument for targeting at lower Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) cohort but need to look at structure for everyone.
  • Equity, parity of esteem – views of parents/ need to keep working on it, encouraging example – increasing number of MAs, takes a while to change views.

S5-S6 – Is 6th year the right path for all, some are ready at 5th year.

  • Recognise not all regions are created equally, not all LA’s created equally – rurality.
  • Outcomes for disabled.  Consideration needed on minorities poor in terms of entry to the workforce (qual levels + engagement in learning are higher.)


  • Are we collecting the right amount of data and statistics on what we want to measure?
  • Drop-out rates; data is not collected on what happens to those students.
  • The view of some in the workshops was that provision for most challenged young people is less. 
  • Funding incentives drive school leadership decision making.
  • It was suggested that the policy& funding environment has not changed and ideas were put forward that these should be looked at, in particular around institutional clutter; the regional agenda is a step in right direction as is the move for college and universities to work in partnership with the potential to learn from pilots to change funding structures.
  • Outcome agreements are enablers of right routes.


Stage 2

Stage 2 will move to implementation.It is recognised that some projects may require further evidence gathering and consultation before implementation.

In stage 2, the Scottish Government will organise a programme of work to take forward each of the approved policy propositions.Scope, budgetary considerations and oversight/governance arrangements will be reviewed at this point.

The Scottish Government recognises the likely complexity involved in this work and accepts its phased implementation, commencing in academic year 2017-18 and stretching over the lifetime of this Parliament – until 2021.


Why is the review happening?

  1. This review has been established by the Scottish Government to deliver the First Minister’s Programme for Government commitment to: ‘review education provision for all 16-24 year olds[1] so their learning journey is as efficient and effective as possible and provides stepping stones to success for those needing most support.’

  2. This commitment was also stated in June 2016 in ‘Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland’.

  3. The Scottish Government wants our learning and skills system to make the most effective contribution to productivity and inclusive growth, and support the achievement of the Scottish Government, Economic Strategy (2015). To do this, the learning system needs to deliver the most value to learners and employers. It needs to provide an excellent learning experience which meets the needs and aspirations of all young people and equips them with skills for learning, life and work.This means a focus on delivering equity, raising attainment, promoting equality, tackling inequalities and supporting those with additional support needs.

  4. Delivery of this programme supports the implementation of phase 1 of Enterprise and Skills review (2016) and Scotland’s Economic Strategy to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.


Who is responsible for the review?

  1. The programme director, Paul Smart, is responsible for the implementation of the programme.

  2. Paul Smart is accountable to Aileen McKechnie, Director Advanced Learning and Science.

  3. Aileen McKechnie is supported by a Programme Directors Group involving:

  4. Karen Reid, Interim Chief Executive, Education Scotland

  5. Fiona Robertson, Director Learning

  6. Dominic Munro, Director Fair Work, Employability & Skills

  7. Michael Chalmers , Director Children & Families

  8. Mary McAllen, Director, Economic Development

  9. Garry Gillespie, Chief Economist

Aileen McKechnie will report to Paul Johnston, Director General Education, Communities & Justice and is accountable to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

More information including the review’s projects and how we are involving young people and stakeholders is in the summary information document.

15-24 Learner Journey Review - summary information including draft project plans here.