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Executive Summary

1.1 In this strategy we explain how we will increase and further enhance school/college partnership 1 to extend opportunities for pupils to access high quality experiences and gain full recognition for their learning with Scotland's colleges.

1.2 We want colleges to help develop the attributes and abilities of pupils to enable them to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society and at work by assisting schools to deliver the purposes for education outlined in
A Curriculum for Excellence. This requires partnership working across both the school and further education sectors, with the focus on the pupil.

1.3 All secondary and special schools in Scotland will by 2007 have effective, meaningful and appropriate partnership with at least one college for S3 pupils and above. College options will be made available to pupils as they are with all other students in further and higher education - on the basis of available capacity. Given there is an inevitable limit on capacity to maintain colleges' central ethos due regard will be paid to pupils who will benefit most from activities that enhance their life chances.

1.4 In the Partnership Agreement, the Executive committed itself to allow 14 to 16 year old pupils the chance to develop vocational skills by opting for further education courses during part of the school week. We want to widen pupils' opportunities and ease their transition from school to further learning, training or employment. Further education courses can present pupils with opportunities to broaden their curriculum choices and enrich their educational experiences. We want to make the most of pupils' talents. That means finding the most suitable way of stimulating their interest in learning. For some, vocational education can provide the context which best engages them.

1.5 Colleges may also offer excellent opportunities for pupils highly gifted in sport, music or dance, but unable to attend one of the National Centres of Excellence to benefit from the more intensive specialist tuition available there. However, school/college partnership is more than exclusively vocational. Colleges present the opportunity for pupils to study some specialist subjects, such as Sociology, which may not be taught in their school.

1.6 We will deliver the Partnership Agreement commitment principally by:

  • working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority to develop skills for work courses to supplement other nationally recognised qualifications for pupils in vocational subjects as another option choice, for example as an alternative to one or more Standard Grades; and
  • establishing long-term, clear and stable funding arrangements in place of the current funding mechanism that disadvantages colleges in providing courses to pupils (because it fails at present to deliver fee income to colleges).

1.7 We will make available, in addition to existing resources that colleges devote to pupils' learning, more than £41.5m across financial years 2005/06 to 2007/08.
This will support, among other things:

  • an increase in college activity for pupils, including more pupils accessing college learning;
  • ensuring that college activities for state school pupils that form part of their school-based curriculum are eligible for automatic fee-waiver;
  • training for the new professional development award and units for college staff teaching under 16 year olds;
  • training for all college staff on pupil welfare and support, including child protection matters;
  • college activity to implement the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004;
  • the reimbursement to colleges of fee costs to Disclosure Scotland for the disclosure of existing college staff; and
  • enhanced careers advice to inform pupils of school/college options and to help pupils reflect upon their college learning in relation to post-school career opportunities.

1.8 We will ensure school/college partnership delivers quality, positive outcomes with pupil welfare and support. This strategic framework for partnership enables effective and flexible local decision-making and initiative and removes barriers to partnership. Linking effectively to wider partnership arrangements will assist school/college partnerships to access and develop a wide range of appropriate responses to pupils' needs and capacities.

1.9 Schools and colleges already have in place their own robust internal quality procedures to measure progress on quality issues. To further ensure high quality experiences for pupils:

  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education, which undertakes independent reviews of colleges and independent inspections of schools, will carry out evaluations of school and college contributions to partnership activity by, for example, sampling within its inspection and review programmes;
  • the Scottish Qualifications Authority will develop new vocational courses, with quality experiences at their core, in close partnership with the education and training community, and employers' organisations; and
  • the Scottish Executive will devise a new professional development award and units, and incorporate within the teaching qualification in further education ( TQ( FE)) professional development for the teaching of pupils under 16 years of age.

1.10 Partnership will be developed with a view to the long term and it will grow in an evolutionary way over the coming years. It may involve pupils learning in college for part of the week. It also presents opportunities for courses to be delivered by college staff in schools.