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3.1 The purposes of school/college partnership naturally stem from our national priorities in education, the new framework set out in A Curriculum for Excellence for schools, and our vision and five people-centred goals for a lifelong learning society.

National Priorities in Education

3.2 Our National Priorities in Education are:

  • Achievement and Attainment: to raise standards in all schools especially in literacy and numeracy and raise national examination standards;
  • Framework for Learning: to support and develop the skills of teachers, the self-discipline of pupils and to make school estates more conducive as a learning environment;
  • Inclusion and Equality: to support all pupils in getting the best out of education, particularly those who are disabled or have special educational needs and to encourage Gaelic and other minority languages;
  • Values and Citizenship: to work with parents and pupils - local neighbourhoods and society - to promote self-respect and respect for others and also the duties and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society; and
  • Learning for Life: to equip pupils with the initial skills, attitudes and outlook to prosper in a changing world and to stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship and ambition.

Lifelong Learning Vision and Goals

3.3 In our lifelong learning strategy we articulated our vision and five people-centred goals for a lifelong learning society:

"The best possible match between the learning opportunities open to people and the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours which will strengthen Scotland's economy and society.

Five goals:

  • A Scotland where people have the confidence, enterprise, knowledge, creativity and skills they need to participate in economic, social and civic life;
  • A Scotland where people demand and providers deliver a high quality learning experience;
  • A Scotland where people's knowledge and skills are recognised, used and developed to best effect in their workplace;
  • A Scotland where people are given the information, guidance and support they need to make effective learning decisions and transitions; and
  • A Scotland where people have the chance to learn, irrespective of their background or current personal circumstances."

National Debate on Education

3.4 The Executive's response to the National Debate on Education, Educating for Excellence12 was published in January 2003. The response's action points included commitments to:

  • support schools in using the curriculum more flexibly, around a well-balanced core. Create teaching and learning programmes which better meet pupils' needs. Support pupils who are academically able as well as those who are not; and
  • increase access to vocational qualifications and strengthen the links between schools, colleges and workplaces. Take forward the recommendations of the review of Enterprise in Education.

Review of Enterprise in Education

3.5 The report of the review Determined to Succeed, 13 published in December 2002, included the role of colleges in helping schools deliver the Enterprise in Education agenda.

3.6 The review group's second recommendation that "All pupils over the age of 14 must have an opportunity for work-based vocational learning linked to accompanying relevant qualifications. This will require a major commitment from Scotland's employers, working closely with local authorities and secondary schools" was followed by an example of "Dundee City Council working with local employers, Dundee College and Scottish Enterprise [to develop] a Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Programme for S3 and S4 pupils."

Scottish Parliament - Skills and Continued Learning Debate

3.7 On 20 May 2004 the Scottish Parliament agreed to a motion that among other things urged the Scottish Executive "to increase the opportunity for school pupils across Scotland to access courses in further education colleges from the age of 14". The motion had the support of 107 MSPs with five MSPs voting against.

Further Education Sector

3.8 Further education is central to lifelong learning in Scotland. Scotland's 45 colleges promote wider access for all and work with employers and other partner organisations to deliver innovative learning and training opportunities to help individuals, communities and employers maximise their potential and develop into lifelong learners.

3.9 A typical college offers a wide range of courses at non-advanced and advanced levels. The curriculum spans much of the range of learning needs, from general educational programmes through to highly specialised vocational education and training. The level of provision ranges from essential life skills and provision for students with learning difficulties through to degree level and post-graduate work.

Banff and Buchan College, Fraserburgh

The College works with schools and a local university to provide a 2+2+2 arrangement for school pupils. Here pupils attend college courses in S5 and S6 at Higher/Intermediate 2 level. On successful completion of the course they are guaranteed a place on a two year HND programme which provides a slipstream into the third year of an Honours degree programme at The Robert Gordon University.

3.10 Around a quarter of all higher education in Scotland is provided in Scotland's colleges14 (mainly in the form of Higher National Certificates ( HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas ( HNDs)), though colleges also provide some degree courses in partnership with higher education institutions. It is increasingly common for some students to transfer upon the completion of their HNC/ HND courses to accelerate their learning in a higher education institution by going straight into second year in the case of HNCs, and third year in the case of HNDs.

A survey conducted in 2003 15 showed that over 3,000 students articulated from colleges to a course at a higher education institution with advanced standing. The number of these 'articulation' agreements between colleges and higher education institutions grow each year.