15-24 Learner Journey Review

Report of the Scottish Government's review of education provision for 15-24 year olds.

Executive Summary

Key findings

1. The Scottish Government's ambition is for a world class education and skills system. A system that delivers the best value to the learner, wider society and the economy where all learners are on the right route to the right job, through the right course via the right information.

2. To achieve this, and reinforcing our ambitions for inclusive economic growth, social justice, and equity and excellence in education, we need to make sure that every individual young person in Scotland can fulfil his or her potential.

3. To maximise their talent, every young person needs the system to provide high quality guidance, advice and support so that they can be sure they are making the right decisions about their education and skills in line with their aspirations and abilities.

4. Equally, in order to ensure all young people have access to the choices that are right for them, we need the right balance and blend of learning options in our post-15 education and skills system – with parity of esteem between vocational and academic learning/pathways across the system as a whole.

5. Recognising this, we are already committed to further improving the education and skills system through our school reforms; the work on Fair Access; the Student Support Review; and the Enterprise and Skills Review. This report is a further demonstration of our ongoing commitment to improve equity and excellence across the wider education and skills system.

6. Even against a backdrop of historically low youth unemployment rates, the review reinforces the importance of the Developing the Young Workforce ( DYW) programme, our youth employment strategy. On 9 October 2017, the Scottish Government announced the achievement of the headline target of DYW - to reduce youth unemployment in Scotland, excluding those in full-time education, by 40% by 2021 – four years ahead of schedule. DYW continues to be central to our approach to education, both to meet the needs of the economy and to provide young people with the start to their working lives we want them to have.

7. Our stakeholder engagement throughout this review has confirmed that we have many of the key component parts of a high quality 15-24 education system in place:

  • A strong starting point in school with entitlements for all young people set out in Curriculum for Excellence – particularly those on the Broad General Education, senior phase curriculum, personal support and skills for learning, life and work.
  • DYW's greater focus on employability, increased access to vocational qualifications and work-based learning, and stronger partnerships between schools, colleges and employers.
  • A focus through the Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Funding that will ensure schools are better able to meet the individual needs of young people and provide a more personalised curriculum.
  • A wide range of youth-work opportunities, particularly important in supporting young people most at risk of disengagement.
  • A successful college sector which has been reconfigured to better meet the needs of industry, the economy and communities.
  • An internationally renowned university sector of distinctive universities including some of the world's oldest and most prestigious institutions as well as world-leading modern and specialist institutions.
  • An apprenticeship programme which has grown almost threefold over the past decade and which continues to evolve and innovate in line with industry needs.
  • A qualifications framework, in the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework, which can support a flexible learner journey.
  • A national careers service delivered locally, underpinned by a well-established online information service.
  • A wide range of advice, support and resources available across educational sectors to support and assist young people, parents/carers to make informed choices.
  • A body of evidence and data that tells us how young people are doing at the different stages of their journey.
  • A historically low youth unemployment rate which places Scotland among the best performing countries in Europe.

8. The best way to ensure that each young person makes the best choices for them, and to make our system as efficient and effective as possible, is to ensure that learners are supported to make the correct choices in the first place; to improve connections across the system and with employers; and to ensure that the right options are open for those who need additional support at any time in their learner journey.

What could be improved

9. From our engagement with young people, business and partners it was clear that if we want an improved, more coherent learner journey post-15, then we need to focus on advice & system coherence, and prioritise:

Priorities for improvement: This is to deliver: We will achieve improvement by:
1. Information, Advice & Support Greater Personalisation Making it easier for young people to understand their learning and career choices at the earliest stage and providing long-term person-centred support for the young people who need this most
2. Provision Real Choice Broadening our approach to education and reframing our offer, doing more for those who get the least out of the system and ensuring all young people access the high level work-based skills Scotland's economy needs
3. Alignment System Purpose Making the best use of our four year degree to give greater flexibility for more learners to move from S5 to year one of a degree, more from S6 to year 2, and more from college into years 2 and 3 of a degree, where appropriate
4. Leadership System Vision Building collective leadership across the education and skills system
5. Performance System Success Knowing how well our education and skills system is performing

10. In response to these priorities, specific commitments to improve the education and skills system are set out below.


11. Many of the changes proposed, both new and those building on existing actions, will take time to fully implement and take effect. This report sets out a commitment to undertake short, medium and longer term improvements.

Improvement in the Short to Medium term (1-3 years)

A shared vision and smoother transitions across sectors

12. In taking forward these commitments, we are clear that in the short to medium term we need to improve access to information and ensure that the right level of one-to-one support is available to help all young people make the right choices.

13. For young people progressing to higher education, we need to increase collaboration between schools, colleges and universities to maximise the multiple entry points of the four year degree which are currently under-utilised both from school and from college.

14. For young people progressing to further education, training or work, we need to ensure that we make their learner journey smoother and more stable, ensuring the transitions they make support their progression and meet their ambitions.

15. The review has identified the need to provide system leadership on the vision for post-15 education to be clear on its effectiveness, including, for example, setting out the contribution of the senior phase in schools, and building on the work by the further and higher education sectors, independent training providers and businesses in delivering work-based learning and the range of routes to higher education and employment in Scotland. In building this vision, we are mindful of the needs of all learners, including those involved in the Broad General Education and those in work or adults returning to education, and that the education and skills system needs to be understood in its entirety.

Improvement in the longer term (3 years plus)

A fully aligned 15-24 education and skills system

16. Building on the collaboration visible through DYW and extending this to universities, we want our education and skills system to be more fully aligned toward a unified 15-24 learner journey, co-designed and delivered by schools, colleges, the third sector, universities, independent training providers and employers.

17. Over the next few years, this will require system leadership and all parts of the post-15 education and skills system to extend collaboration to further:

  • Develop and better align schools, the third-sector, independent training providers, colleges and universities, informed by business to provide learners with meaningful choices, enabling progression and promoting the use of the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework – ( SCQF, which is explained at annex D).
  • Co-create and co-deliver the senior-phase curriculum, aligning timetables, making maximum use of the technical expertise and (human and financial) resources across the combined estate to create the best place to learn and involving new ways of maximising work-based learning, digitalisation and employer engagement.
  • Provide aligned guidance, support and services to enable full participation in the wider range of curriculum choices.

18. These recommendations have implications for quality, governance and leadership of the wider post-15 education and skills system. This includes the need to more effectively join up this leadership by: maximising the input and support of the new Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board; supporting local authorities and the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives to connect with regional colleges, universities and the third sector; and building consistency across the respective quality arrangements of the different parts of the system.

19. The Scottish Government, working with national and local partners, will continue to actively engage with young people and with business in the implementation of this work to ensure that policy decisions relating to the learner journey continue to be informed by young people and employers.

20. This engagement will be a key feature of Scotland's Year of Young People and the first National Economic Forum of 2018.

21. Over the course of 2018, we will work with Young Scot to help us to refine messages and develop new ways to better promote the range of opportunities available within our 15-24 education and skills system. In the years that follow, these messages will form the basis of our vision to ensure everyone - young people, parents, teachers and practitioners – fully value and make the most ambitious use of Scotland's post-15 education and skills system.

The 15-24 Learner Journey Review: Summary

Key Priority Our ambition Recommendation

1. Information Advice & Support

Making it easier for young people to understand their learning and career choices at the earliest stage and providing long-term person- centred support for the young people who need this most

We want young people to have access to greater levels of personal support particularly in terms of how they use the information available to them. As a step toward this, we want to support a greatly improved digital experience, building on and extending My World of Work ( MWOW). Our aim is for a one-stop shop approach to better signpost all qualifications, pathways and support to learners in Scotland. This would be a digital hub to which all young people have access through an online account when they start school. The hub would be where their attributes and skills are collated and where they can: link their skills to the planning of career opportunities; explore more about those opportunities; and link to making applications.

We want to make improvements to the existing services and adapt them to meet this demand for a one-stop shop approach. To create the hub we will work with Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) to build on My World of Work, developing this over time so that it continues to better signpost existing information available on other websites, and promote this better to practitioners, parents, carers and learners. In taking forward this work we are absolutely clear on the importance of more personal support. As learners progress from school to college we also want much greater consistency in the experience of CIAG (Career Information Advice & Guidance) within college and there was clear support from college practitioners for this to happen.

1. We will ensure every learner in Scotland has an online learner account to link their skills and attributes to better course choices. This work will start in 2018. We will work with SDS to develop My World of Work to link fully with existing digital services in school to deliver an online learner account that enables learners to record their attributes, skills and qualifications in a way that follows them beyond school and helps them plan their learner journey into work.

2. We will support practitioners, parents, carers and learners to have access to an online prospectus setting out the learning choices available in their region, building toward a one-stop shop approach. This work will start in 2018. We will develop a clear local offer and work with local authorities, colleges, Regional Improvement Collaboratives, universities and SDS to support the development of an online regional prospectus for the senior phase which gives an overview of the courses available to young people in schools in their area – linking to the promotion of DYW.

3. We will ensure learners in schools, colleges and universities receive a joined-up approach to careers, information, advice and guidance. This work will start in 2018. We will work in partnership with colleges to ensure greater consistency in CIAG service delivery to learners. This will include better access to specific career practitioners in the college sector. We will work with QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) and Universities to ensure their quality processes align with Scottish Government aspirations for learner access to CIAG support.

4. We will take account of the outcomes of the PSE (Personal Social Education) Review, due to be published later this year, and consider what further improvement is needed on wider personal support for young people in schools.

5. We will work with the college sector to improve the ease with which learners can apply to college. We will work with colleges, SFC and SDS to further improve the way learners can search and access course applications. We will move to the use of common information on all college applications to make it easier for learners who make multiple applications. We will move toward a more standardised timetable for college applications and the presentation of offers of places, taking into account UCAS deadlines for offers.

2. Provision

Broadening our approach to education and reframing our offer, doing more for those who get less out of the system and ensuring all young people access the high level work-based skills Scotland's economy needs

We want a school curriculum that works for all young people. This is made possible through the full realisation of the Developing Young Workforce Programme ( DYW), within the wider context of CfE. Aligned to this we also want a college curriculum with clear and purposeful pathways to work and higher level study. In doing both of these things, we want to do much more for those who get the least out of the system.

As part of the improved offer in school, we want to see greater co-creation of the curriculum by colleges, third sector organisations and business to deliver a more diverse and richer learning experience for all young people. Over time we would expect a planned and connected curriculum to start within the Broad General Curriculum for all learners. This work has started and we need to build on existing initiatives, including approaches emerging through the Pupil Equity Fund and the work of the Children and Young People Improvement Collaboratives.

Critically, we want to support schools to work more closely and earlier with other professionals, existing out-with the school environment, so that the curriculum offer is planned as part of a wider child support plan.

Although this review focussed on 15-24 year olds, we want to meet our commitments on lifelong learning

A commitment to lifelong learning should be at the heart of any credible education & skills strategy . It is important to ensure there is the right balance between undergraduate degrees and other forms of post-secondary education, including shorter tertiary qualifications and work based learning. This balance should be informed by evidence of the benefits of each. Therefore, we will want to continue to review the volume of employment-based training, including Graduate Apprenticeships, as part of a joined up skills investment strategy to maintain the standards of technical education and ensure that our skills investment is in response to and in anticipation of future skills shortages and emerging opportunities.

6. We will develop a national communication strategy to explain and promote the breadth of choices in the 15-24 learner journey. This will build on the promotional activity undertaken during Scotland's Year of Young People and be ready by the end of AY19-20.

7. We will raise our aspiration and improve the offer and support for statutory leavers and looked after young people. We will want improvements to be in place from AY19-20.
We will support schools to have in place an expanded offer from the start of S4 – involving early identification, a planned curriculum with the necessary support in place - devised in partnership with either the third sector, colleges or an employer, for all young people at risk of disengagement.

8. We will better align financial incentives to encourage continued participation in school for young people at risk of disengagement and we will ask Young Scot to assist us with this. This work will start in 2018.
We will review how our entitlements align to maximise their impact irrespective of whether learning takes place in the thirdsector or college whilst a learner is still at school. We will align this effort as part of taking forward the recommendations of the Student Support Review(2017) and will ensure this work has maximum impact on care experienced young people.

9. We will embed DYW in the school curriculum by 2021, having achieved the headline target for DYW four years early.
We will work with the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives, schools, local authorities, colleges, third sector, CLD, employers and national bodies to embed DYW as the expected approach to curriculum, planning design and delivery.

10. We will support and enable the Foundation Apprenticeship and other vocational qualifications to be embedded, providing a range of options for all learners in the senior phase by 2021. As a starting point we will continue with our commitment to 5,000 FAs by 2019.

11. We will support colleges to maximise the vocational routes learners and employers need.
From 2018, we will build on the college sector's pivotal role in the education and skills system: in access; in enabling routes to work; in delivering higher technical skills; and in providing routes to university. This will include ensuring we have the right provision, the right modes of study and the right measures of success to support the best learner outcomes and make the biggest impact. This will build on the work already started by colleges and support our wider effort to develop a shared narrative about thepurpose of post 15 education.

12. We will improve choice through the expansion of Graduate Apprenticeships to provide new higher level technical skills aspart of a better balanced education and skills system. This work will start with impetus in 2018.

3. Alignment

Making the best use of our four year degree to give greater learner flexibility for more learners to move from S5 to year one of a degree, more from S6 to year 2, and more from college into years 2 and 3 of a degree where appropriate

We want to see a better aligned system which provides genuine choice and enables smooth progression for learners. DYW is already in place to ensure the senior phase and S6 can be best utilised to support a greater range of options. S6 enables many learners to gain their full complement of Highers, and others to build their qualifications to secure the best positive destination to college and employment. However, a question arises over the value added by S6 to improve the progression for our highest achievers - those with sufficient academic credit to progress to university at the end of S5; or to progress from S6 to university with advanced standing. The review has identified the overlap between S5/S6 and year one of university. For some learners this is necessary and desirable; for others it impacts on the pace of their academic progression and can result in duplicate investment and delivery of SCQF level 7 credit. In the recent past, much higher numbers of young people progressed from S5 to year one of university. Despite a four year degree with multi-entry points and a high proportion of S6 pupils achieving at least one level 7 qualification, of those now staying on into S6 just over 1% of school leavers enter year 2.
( Scottish Government analysis of HESA Student Data).

In recognising that the Senior Phase is a three-year programme of learning – a key entitlement under Curriculum for Excellence - we need greater collaboration across the system to fully support progression. This is to overcome learner maturity issues and ensure more of our most able young people can enter y1 from S5 where appropriate. This establishes a challenge to our colleges and universities to collaborate with each other and with schools at a new level and in new ways. They need to do more to meet learner expectation and schools need to reciprocate their efforts. This requires a step-change in culture and expectation, in university engagement with schools, in curriculum alignment, transition planning and learner support. This is part of our ambition under Priority 2, to ensure greater collaboration across the 15-24 education and skills system.

We want to support and build on the recent college improvement effort on retention and attainment; so college courses enable more learners to move into work and others to complete higher education and progress to university. Since many learners now see college as a stepping stone to a degree, we want more articulation to be possible in all universities.

13. We will minimise unnecessary duplication at SCQF level 7. We will make maximum use of the flexibility of the four year degree to enable learners to move, where appropriate, from S5 to year 1 and, through greater recognition of Advanced Highers, from S6 to year 2 of a university degree programme.

This will help support delivery of Recommendation 6 of the report of the Commission on Widening Access ("The Scottish Government, working with key stakeholders, should ensure the key transitions phases around SCQF levels 6 to 8 are better used to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the qualifications and experiences required to support fair access.").

14. We will support colleges and universities to ensure more learners progress from college to all our universities without unnecessary duplication of SCQF credit.

We will more fully align our college and university higher education system to meet learner expectation, to ensure full recognition of prior college learning where appropriate.

We expect all universities to actively support this to happen and to commit to substantially increasing the proportion of HN learners they admit with full credit to at least the 75-per-cent benchmark identified by SFC. We will ask universities to set out the reasons why articulation is not possible for any learners transferring within the same broad subject areas, and the steps being taken to enable it.

We expect the universities who traditionally have low numbers of articulating students to also commit to substantially increasing the number of HN learners they admit.

4. Leadership

Building collectiveleadership across the education and skills system

We want a shared vision to enable a single system approach. Our starting point is to understand why the system needs to change to be better for the learner, accept this and then establish the conditions for this to be realised. This raises questions as to how we support the system to do this. In terms of governance we will need greater alignment in decision making. Aligning key stakeholders within a single vision, will be the beginning of establishing a shared culture, which then creates the conditions to address the capacity issues the system faces together.
The leadership challenge will need to address and make clear our expectations of the three year senior phase and maximise its value; our expectations of the four year degree and maximise its entry points; and the role of colleges in ensuring direct routes to employment, delivering high level skills, and routes to degree level study. This requires strong governance, capable of making whole system decisions and of looking ahead to make plans for Scotland's future education and skills needs.

15. We will provide system leadership to ensure there is a shared vision about the purposes of post 15 education.

5. Performance

Knowing how well our education and skills system is performing

It is important that funding across the system helps young people make decisions based on what works for them and for the economy. Therefore, we need to act on the information we create and use that information to support learners to make more informed choices. We want to maximise the value of existing governance structures, such as the new Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board and the Scottish Education Council; and support a connection between the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives and regional colleges and with universities as well as the respective quality arrangements of the different parts of the system.

Acting on evidence of outcomes and return on investment, should redress the inconsistencies of investment in different qualifications and different types of learning. This will start with the commencement of the LEO project (Longitudinal Educational Outcomes). We will ensure a more co- ordinated use of data across national organisations, to better understand the impact of different learner journeys: This will include developing a consistent set of performance measures and to consider how the National Improvement Framework could be developed to support the learner 12 journey 15-24.

16. We will support greater alignment and collaboration across the education and skills systemmaking best use of the Scottish Candidate Number to help support effective transitions .

17. We will develop better data and improve how existing data is used to support learners make the right choices for them. We will also develop a performance framework to drive improvements across the system as a whole.


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