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2.1 Our school/college review was never principally about schools or colleges - it was always about pupils.

2.2 In Ambitious, Excellent Schools2 we set out our agenda for action built on our belief in the potential of all pupils and our commitment to help each of them realise that potential. We also gave a clear statement in A Curriculum for Excellence3 of the purposes of school education from 3 to 18, along with principles for the design of the curriculum. The values and purposes of the 3-18 curriculum for schools, and the principles for curriculum design are outlined in Annex A.

2.3 Pupils have a very wide range of individual skills, talents, aspirations and enthusiasms and their success comes through realising their individual potential. Our agenda for action is focussed on giving them opportunities to further develop essential skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and to choose and develop the other personal skills and talents most important to them.

2.4 We want to give pupils the opportunity to benefit from a wide range of educational opportunities and equip them with a variety of skills that prepare them for life, the workplace, and the community. The principal locus for the education of school pupils is, and will remain, the school. However, we will broaden opportunities. This means that schools will work increasingly in partnership with other bodies to meet pupils' needs and aspirations. For some pupils, accessing the more specialised learning opportunities available through our colleges may be the most suitable way to help them fulfil their potential. College staff can also provide pupils with beneficial insight into employability, something that schools cannot always achieve outwith partnership.

2.5 Increasing the range of flexible learning opportunities will also contribute to the delivery of our Closing the Opportunity Gap targets to reduce the proportion of 16-19 year olds who are not in education training or employment by 2008, which will form part of our plans for an Employability Framework later in 2005 to drive down levels of worklessness across Scotland. Under Closing the Opportunity Gap, we also have a target to increase the tariff score of the lowest attaining 20% of S4 pupils by 2008. 4

2.6 In 2002/03 29.6% of pupils left school without attaining a Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 5 qualification (Credit level at Standard grade and Intermediate 2). 5 School/college partnership is not a panacea, but colleges are well placed to help schools raise the level of attainment of these (and other) pupils.

2.7 The success of this strategy and the 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.

School/College Review

2.8 In our lifelong learning strategy Life Through Learning; Learning Through Life6 published in February 2003 we said that we would:

"develop a joint schools/ FE strategy and implementation plan, including review of funding mechanisms to ensure flexibility of delivery, so as to encourage locally relevant links between schools, FE colleges and local employers to ease school leavers' transitions into further learning, training or employment".

2.9 We launched our school/college review in October 2003 to provide a clear framework that facilitates local discussion about the development of partnership working. We also considered how best to deliver our Partnership Agreement 7 commitment to:

"enable 14-16 year olds to develop vocational skills and improve their employment prospects by allowing them to undertake courses in further education colleges as part of the school-based curriculum".

2.10 We want to enable effective and flexible local decision-making, initiative and momentum, and remove barriers to partnership, commensurate with the need to ensure quality, positive outcomes and pupil welfare and support. This strategy establishes an equitable national framework for pupils throughout Scotland with decision-making at a local level for locally relevant partnership activities.

Guide and Insert

2.11 This strategy is accompanied by a guide for school/college partnership on matters including planning and management and pupil welfare and support. It contains examples of existing 'best practice'. We will also publish an insert to Partnership Matters, 8 containing specific guidance on school/college partnership for pupils with additional support needs. This document will set out the roles and responsibilities of local authorities, NHS Boards and further education colleges in supporting pupils with additional support needs attending college. The document will be published by summer 2005.

Collaboration and Partnership

2.12 Collaboration is about working with another on a joint project. Partnership, on the other hand, entails a relationship in which organisations work together with a common purpose. It is indicative of the depth and maturity of existing school/college links that we can now adopt a partnership approach across the country founded on mutual trust and respect. It is this approach that will best deliver our strategy.

2.13 We have no preferred mode of delivery for school/college partnership (or for the delivery of vocational education more generally for that matter). However, schools and colleges must work in partnership - not in competition.

Curricular Flexibility

2.14 Colleges have a significant role to play in delivering flexibility to ensure that learning opportunities are tailored to the needs and aspirations of individual pupils, but school/college partnership is not the only way of achieving this flexibility. 9 Work-based learning has, for example, an important role to play, as too do school and college partnerships with community and voluntary organisations.

2.15 In this strategy we concentrate specifically on partnership between schools and colleges. Such partnerships are already well-developed for many schools and colleges, but there are clear issues that need to be addressed nationally at this stage such as funding arrangements. By focusing on a strategy for schools and colleges, we aim to provide a framework in which opportunities can be developed to suit the needs of pupils and to fit local circumstances. At the same time, we intend that school/college partnerships should link with wider partnerships to ensure that pupils' needs are met in an effective, integrated way.

2.16 Work-based vocational learning is an integral part of our national strategy for enterprise in education, Determined to Succeed. 10 The Scottish Executive Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department is reviewing how public and private training providers can extend their partnerships to include the business community in order to ensure quality experiences for pupils with appropriate pupil welfare and support.

2.17 In Working and Learning Together to Build Stronger Communities11 the Scottish Executive set out how local Community Learning and Development Partnerships (which generally include local schools and colleges) should take a strategic approach to the provision of formal and informal community-based learning opportunities.

School/College Review Publications

2.18 Publications issued as part of the school/college review are listed in
Annex B. They can be found on the Scottish Executive's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/publications. You can telephone Freephone 0800 77 1234 to find out where your nearest public Internet access point is.

2.19 All review publications are also available from:

School/College Review
Scottish Executive
2nd Floor, Europa Building
450 Argyle Street
Glasgow G2 8LG

By telephone: 0141 242 0102
By email: scrt@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
By fax: 0141 242 0251.

2.20 The February 2004 consultation paper, the review's interim report, and this strategy for school/college partnership are available on request in alternative formats.