National Islands Plan Annual Report 2022

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires that a report is presented to Parliament each year setting out the progress made towards delivery of the National Islands Plan. This report sets out progress made during the 2022 reporting year.


Strategic Objective 12 – To promote and improve education for all throughout life

We committed to work with UHI, the University of Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt University, Robert Gordon University and other education providers to ensure a broad range of options are available to young people.

Implementation Route Map action

  • SDS is working to support the development of the Islands Growth Deal TalEntEd Islands Programme in partnership with UHI, Robert Gordon University, Herriot Watt, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The TalEntEd Islands programme will create opportunities for education, skills, entrepreneurship and commercialisation which will help respond to demographic challenges and the outmigration of young people from the Islands, drive an increase in sustainable green jobs, and fast-track Island decarbonisation.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

UHI is represented on the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland (SAPRS) Implementation Steering Group (ISG) and through this involvement in 2022, has collaborated with SDS and other members to; share good practice, knowledge exchange, address provision challenges and explore new opportunities in rural Scotland (remote, islands and substantially rural).

UHI is leading on several key Islands Deal projects in areas such as work based learning to support the transition to net zero and creativity and wellbeing, which aim to have a transformational impact for island learners, businesses and communities. UHI's Island Strategy was published in 2020 and is being implemented within a partnership approach with key stakeholders to ensure that the activities are aligned with the needs of island communities.

University of Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen's Access and Articulation Teamwork with the islands to ensure that they are fully integrated into work to widen access to the University. The team visit the islands and provide additional funding opportunities, so no young person is discriminated against on the grounds of their location and prevented from attending an in-person event. Equally, support and opportunities are delivered, where it would not degrade quality, in a blended format to allow anyone to join regardless of personal circumstances. This widening access applies wider than the islands, however the University is linking directly with the islands.

Heriot-Watt University (HWU)

Heriot-Watt University (HWU) continues to bring MSc and PhD students to its International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) in Orkney. Over the 30 years that HWU has been in Orkney, many students have elected to stay in the islands, after completing their studies. Most of these young professionals now work in the renewable energy sector. This is reversing the process of depopulation and addressing the age imbalance so common in many Scottish islands. This inward migration and retention are contributing to a flourishing regional economy based on science and technology. January 2023 saw the signing of the Islands Growth Deal, and it is hoped that the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ), part of the £100 million Islands Growth Deal, will enter delivery shortly. The ICNZ is a £16 million public, private, university collaboration which will identify pathways to net zero for the Scottish islands. This will be a further draw bringing young scientists to the Orkney Islands. Among other things it will provide funding for up to 15 PhD students, who will collaborate with local organisations to help find solutions to the problem of Net Zero.

In 2022, with the support of British Council funding, ICIT developed an exchange programme with Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) Surabaya, Indonesia. This initiative will link Orkney and Indonesian students who will work together on collaborative projects in the field of marine energy and the blue economy. Opportunities are also being developed, within the Heriot-Watt network, through Go Global. This initiative gives students at HWU campuses in Edinburgh, Dubai, and Malaysia the chance to study in Orkney. Heriot-Watt is committed to developing its Orkney campus and the teaching opportunities there.

Robert Gordon University (RGU)

RGU continues its engagement and activity in the Highlands and Islands through Graduate Apprenticeship delivery, representation on the Islands Deal Forum, the TalEntEd Programme Board and leadership of the Entrepreneurship Work Package (WP2) and research activity that seeks to extend the reach of research impact in remote island communities. RGU is also represented on the Shetland Islands Energy Transition Skills Group, most recently sharing work that RGU's Energy Transition Institute has been doing on workforce transferability.

We committed to support UHI as it deepens collaboration with island partners to promote learner pathways, innovation and industry/employer engagement.

Implementation Route Map action

  • The UHI Islands Strategy Director will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government Islands Team through a collaborative, solution-focused approach that seeks to maximise the opportunities that arise through overlapping work streams, such as UHI projects associated the Islands Growth Deal and Islands Programme investment. Critically this work interconnects as a result of shared priorities, identified through both the Islands Strategy and the Scottish Government's National Islands Plan.
  • Ongoing work on Student Retention and Talent Attraction and Retention programmes to support students to stay, including linking with employers, especially those with skills shortages.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Skills, Talent Attraction and Retention

The wider Talent Attraction programme aims to attract people from rest of the UK (rUK). Migration from rUK accounts for almost 50% of inward migration to Scotland and has no legal barriers and supports the Programme for Government commitment to develop a Talent Attraction and Migration Service to bring in skilled workers and help them to make Scotland their home. As part of this priority NSET action, an Industry Advisory Group for rest of UK (rUK) Talent Attraction, chaired by Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Minister, Ivan McKee, has been formed to share talent attraction expertise to identify and develop effective approaches to attracting talent from the rest of the UK. This work is of critical importance to Talent Attraction across our island communities.

Industry Advisory Group for rUK Talent Attraction

Membership of the Industry Advisory Group reflects the priority growth sectors identified in the NSET, which will create jobs and bring overall benefits to Scotland's regions and wider economy, including life sciences, technology/fintech, advanced manufacturing – mechanical and electronics, financial services, space, and renewables. This Industry Advisory Group is exploring how best to shape a talent attraction programme which can expand Scotland's talent pool at all levels, to give employers the skills pipeline needed to take advantage of opportunities, and ultimately benefit our economy. The Industry Advisory Group will initially focus on priority growth sectors, which will create jobs and bring overall benefits to all of Scotland's regions and wider economy.

Student Retention

As part of the Talent Attraction Programme, we will work with colleges, universities and sector representatives, to explore whether more can be done to increase the number of international and Scottish graduates that stay in Scotland, particularly in rural and island communities, post-qualifying. Existing good practice in retaining students' post-qualification will be used to provide a platform to build from, working with Higher Education Institutions, Further Education Colleges, and Industry to create opportunities and incentive for students to stay in Scotland after graduating. The project will aim to formalise links between students and employers (including public sector), particularly in sectors with skills shortages.

University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

The Scottish Government Islands Team continues to engage regularly with UHI, in particular with the Islands Strategy Director, who is responsible for the delivery of the UHI Islands Strategy, which is closely aligned to priorities within the National Islands Plan. Given the UHI footprint and focus across the isles, this collaborative and solution-focused approach enables progress for island communities, supported by knowledge exchange that targets the shared priorities and synergies in the Islands Strategy and the National Islands Plan; realising benefits across the full range of UHI tertiary provision.

This is underpinned by the university's enabling themes of equality and inclusion, Gaelic language and climate change, which helps to ensure that through this collaborative relationship, provision in training, education and research is integrated with the needs of island communities and compliments the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland and supporting community empowerment at the local level. Also, in Skye, and as part of the UHI, the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig offers a range of courses through the medium of Gaelic.

Additionally, through the UHI Islands Forum, key stakeholders such as SDS, HIE and island local authorities continue to support a better understanding of contexts and requirements, and the changing political and economic environment at an island-level. This further contextualises and increases the impact of the work being undertaken by UHI's Island Skills coordinator for example; in collating information relevant to local populations to inform where upskilling and reskilling are required, and what new provision may be required to support sustainable economic development and community wealth building in key sectors such as those facilitating the transition to net zero.

We committed to ensure that young people are given the same opportunities to access education as young people on mainland Scotland.

Implementation Route Map action

  • Education Scotland will continue to lead and support on education recovery in light of Covid-19 recovery.
  • HM Inspectors are engaging with establishments to gather evidence for national thematic reports on recovery education, wellbeing and outdoor learning. Island schools, including those that deliver Gaelic Medium Education, are part of these thematics.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Education, e-Sgoil and our National e-Learning Offer

We continue to support e-Sgoil in the current financial year through a £1.8 million commitment. This investment enables equity of access for children and young people across Scotland; enhancing subject choice; providing study support and facilitating participation in live events; and offering virtual teaching supply cover – across Scotland.

Examples include:

  • leadership role in the National Discussion Live, empowering the voices of 26,000 learners including those from the islands
  • iSgoil – supporting learners to continue learning when they are unable to attend school physically
  • Scotland's Assembly – showcasing Scotland's great places and people including editions on Gaelic, wind farms on Lewis and COAST Arran
  • Dug's Discovery Den (also in Gaelic) for early years learners
  • Easter Study Support
  • year-long evening Study Support
  • DYW Live – partnering with hundreds of employers and schools
  • conversational English for Ukrainian families which was initiated to answer the needs of refugees in the islands

e-Sgoil was established in 2016 by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to address equity issues across their island schools. It was designed to enable young people to access learning opportunities that might otherwise be restricted because of geography or staff availability. E-Sgoil also makes an important contribution to support Gaelic learning throughout Scotland.

When the COVID pandemic began in March 2020, and with its resulting impact on education, e-Sgoil was well positioned to pivot its service delivery model to meet this challenge. In partnership with the Scottish Government and Education Scotland this response and re-prioritisation resulted in our National e-Learning Offer (NeLO). E-Sgoil's key leadership role in NeLO has strengthened their position nationally and locally and supported the development of new skills and expertise for their staff across all the islands, not just Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

From its base in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, e-Sgoil teaching staff are employed from across the Outer Hebrides, within neighbouring island authority areas and across mainland Scotland. E-Sgoil's enhanced offer demonstrates how innovation in the islands can be supported and enhanced to the benefit of the whole of Scotland, building strong partnerships, respect and cultural equity for our island communities and local authorities.

Employment, training and educational opportunities on islands through our Islands Programme

This year and as part of our £1 million Islands Programme resource funding allocated to support the implementation of the National Islands Plan, we are committed to developing employment, training and education initiatives that reflect against the nuances of island life and also help to tackle population decline.

This finance has been committed in a number of ways that have a direct impact upon employment, training and educational opportunities, delivered through practical policy tests and in partnership with key stakeholders. The impact of these investments informs future policy development in a way that recognises, celebrates and responds to the unique qualities across our island communities.

Ongoing policy tests include a £250,000 investment to develop an Island Skills and Employment Repopulation Pilot. The Islands Team are supporting local authorities, HIE and SDS with work linked to the forthcoming Addressing Depopulation Action Plan and the population priorities for island communities. It is hoped that this will have a direct impact on addressing local employment and recruitment challenges.

Delivery in North Ayrshire will engage with DWP, council services, youth services and HE/FE providers to identify priority groups including jobseekers, young people, parents, women, minority groups and individuals who require upskilling/re-skilling to enable and encourage continued employment. Delivery in the Western Isles will engage young people, new entrants and career changers and explore opportunities and pathways within local industry. A further project is taking place in Argyll and Bute.

We committed to work with young people across Scottish islands to ensure that they are able to contribute to the implementation of the Plan from an education perspective and to ensure that their voices are present.

Commitment Fulfilled

This commitment was fulfilled in 2020. Please see the National Islands Plan Annual Report 2020 for further details.

Young Islanders Network (YIN)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Ms Gougeon, launched the Young Islanders Network on Orkney in August 2022, providing children and young people with a platform to support meaningful contributions to National Islands Plan delivery and to their current and future life on islands.

Through the Young Islanders Challenge (YIN pilot), young people articulated a desire to contribute to the governance of the National Islands Plan, to support grassroots youth representation and deliver tangible, meaningful and positive outcomes for young people living throughout our islands. The Scottish Government listened to these views and at the YIN launch in August 2022, Ms Gougeon formally invited YIN representation onto the National Islands Plan Delivery Group. This will help to ensure that through the Network, the voices of young people continue to be heard and listened to, while also shaping the delivery of the NIP.

Building on the earlier Young Islanders Challenge, children and young people living on islands were invited to meet online; initially with the senior YIN development worker at Youth Scotland. From the 10 March 2022, Young Island Champions (YICs) from across all the local authority areas with islands were invited to meet and the co-development of the network was initiated. To date there have been twenty online meetings of the YIN via Zoom. The YICs requested to meet on zoom fortnightly until the summer school break. They initially wanted to keep the online meetings open to all ages from 5-25 years old and to use these sessions to get to know each other. In 2022, 348 young people were engaged in introductions to the YIN, through activity-based sessions with a mix of online and face to face meetings.

Young people were invited to participate in the Young Islanders Challenge, which was updated from the initial pilot in March 2022, to include a Year of Stories 2022 element. This provided an opportunity for children and young people to share their favourite island story. The idea behind this was to build on their island identity and to learn more about where they live and share this with other young people across the network.

There are fifty-nine registered YICs, who act as YIN leads, although not all participate on the zoom calls as many are engaging directly through their anchor organisation group, with a local group representative attending the zoom meetings to provide updates. YICs have helped to co-develop the structure of the network, looking at how the champions that attended online meetings could be conduits to feed back to their local groups and to bring to the YIN meetings the voices of others from within their own groups and local areas. Through this approach, young people were invited to be YICs, and to be involved in the challenges without becoming a YIC.

101 schools across the islands have been engaged in YIN development and the 'Challenge Sheets', alongside information on the Carbon Neutral Islands Schools project. The terms of reference for this were co-developed and agreed by the YICs. In addition, seven Young Islanders representative roles were identified, and the young people voted on the post allocations, with appointments made in October 2022. Alongside the seven representatives, depute representatives were also appointed to ensure that the young people had peer support and continuity for the Network.

The YIN is also responding to the specific needs of young people. For example, supporting young people's mental health in response to the pandemic as one area previously highlighted as a priority. Work is underway through the mental health training being offered in partnership with Place2Be. Young islanders are invited to access the Ready for Youth work and Place2b programs, which incorporate peer mental health support for young leaders. YICs have a safe space to express their concerns and views on all issues which affect them and through this peer support they note less feelings of isolation and improved confidence.

YICs have also been heavily involved in the development of the YIN's digital presence. Initially considering whether they would find a website useful, and which, if any, social media platforms they would like to use. This extended to include which roles they would be interested in creating to support and shape the digital presence. On the 17th of June 2022, the website was officially launched at an event held on Arran. A designated 'drop box' for young islanders to share stories and content on the website and social media platforms has also been developed and young islanders have shared blogs on the website, with ongoing co-development taking place at each meeting.

Skills and Awards development opportunities for the young people and their workers continue to grow. Six of the YICs have taken part in an introductory ILEAD Engage workshop, with more planned. One YIC has also completed Ready for Youth Work, a Youth Scotland programme which includes leadership skills and peer mentoring. Ten young people took part in leadership

and decision-making workshops during the Scaladale residential weekend and in addition, four young people participated in leadership activities at the Big Ideas Weekend in Stirling.

YIN members participating in meetings have undertaken decision-making skills sessions and confidence building activities. Through their participation in the Young Islanders Challenges and Network events, 29 Hi5 awards and 10 Dynamic Youth Awards have been awarded to young islanders. This number is set to increase significantly as young islanders are invited to obtain a Hi5 award by taking part and submitting their completed 'Challenge Sheets' to Youth Scotland.

Content creators' workshops were delivered to young people who wish to be more involved in the digital communications of the YIN. Additionally, STEM, Games and Arts sessions have been delivered to groups on islands and young people have developed skills in engagement and leadership through this. Forty-five young people have been involved in community social action event workshops, looking at ways to identify and deliver on a social action to benefit their communities.

All the YICs and their anchor organisations have been invited to participate in the Inspire 2022 project, run through Youth Scotland. The aim of this is to have YIN representation in running a social action event in 2023. As part of the YIN Transport Challenge and consultation with young islanders, a group of the YIN champions are looking at ways to carry out a social action based on their findings to test change of a proposed solution and to exchange their learning with each other and decision makers.

One young person in Orkney has been successful in a bid to the Audrey Milan Fund 'What's your Big Idea?' following on from their time at the Big Ideas Weekend residential in Stirling with the YIN. They will be using this grant to deliver a workshop to promote the Young Islander Transport Survey and hope to recruit some more young people from the smaller Orkney islands who are based in the Papdale Halls of Residence. Alongside capacity-building work with young people, the Project will build the capacity of adults working with young people. The purpose of which is to better enable them to support the Network (and the National Islands Plan) in the longer term.

It has remained a priority to ensure that young people who engage with the YIN and Network activities, such as community challenges, are from all backgrounds and include those with protected characteristics. Several the YICs that are regularly engaging are benefitting from meeting other young people who experience challenges and feel safe to share their voices and hopes for the future. Work is ongoing to ensure that the network is accessible to all young people from the islands, and that they can all make a meaningful contribution to the islands plan and the project.

Two young people with disabilities recently completed a Dynamic Youth Award through their participation in the Young Islander Challenge, taking place in a setting which met their needs, and using YIN resources in a person-centred led series of sessions; to ensure that they could engage with the challenges, develop new skills and build on their identity as islanders. The aspiration is that the anchor groups will continue to be encouraged to engage with all young people in the islands and that the challenges and access to the network will be inclusive and accessible for all.

We committed to continue to support and promote Gaelic medium education at all levels.

Implementation Route Map action

  • A wide range of projects and initiatives are in place to promote and support Gaelic medium education at all levels. This involves the Scottish Government, a number of local authorities, public bodies and Gaelic organisations. We will continue to support Northern Alliance working group for Gaelic to support collaborative improvement.
  • We will continue to use evidence and independent evaluation to celebrate success, support improvement and raise standards in Gaelic Medium and Learner Education; taking forward the scrutiny objectives of HM Inspectors' Corporate and Gaelic Language Plans bespoke to island contexts.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Gaelic Medium Education

The Scottish Government, working with local authorities will continue to support a wide range of projects and initiatives which are in place to promote and support Gaelic medium education at all levels in island communities.

The work of other bodies/authorities such as Education Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Scottish Funding Council, Stòrlann, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Comann na Gàidhlig is also important in supporting and promoting Gaelic education in island communities. The Scottish Government has a commitment to develop a new strategic approach to Gaelic medium education and will seek to ensure that island communities benefit from this approach. The support and encouragement for GME is at all levels from early learning to further and higher education.

We committed to work with all island authorities to scope potential projects that could benefit from successive phases of the new £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme which runs until 2026.

Implementation Route Map action

  • The £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme prioritises schools in need of updating, as identified by local authorities, to ensure rapid progress where most required and will benefit around 50,000 pupils across Scotland. All projects will be announced, and funding allocated by 2026.
  • Phase three of the Learning Estate Investment programme will open to local authorities in 2022, and successful projects will be announced before the end of 2022. Any bids for funding from island authorities, through Phase three of the Learning Estate Investment Programme, will be given careful consideration.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme prioritises schools in need of updating, as identified by local authorities and will benefit tens of thousands of pupils across Scotland.

The first phase of projects to benefit from the Learning Estate Investment Programme was announced in September 2019 and includes Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's Barra and Vatersay Community Campus project.

The second phase of projects to benefit from the Learning Estate Investment Programme was announced in December 2020 and includes The Highland Council's Broadford Primary School project on the Isle of Skye.

We are currently considering local authorities Phase 3 bids, and we intend to announce the successful projects soon.

We committed to increase our collective efforts to improve the educational outcomes of children living in poverty by continuing to support island authorities/schools plans to raise attainment through Scottish Attainment Challenge programmes such as Pupil Equity Funding.

Implementation Route Map action

  • Education Scotland will continue to collaborate with island authorities to improve educational outcomes of children living in poverty. Five Attainment Advisors work with local authority central staff and individual schools to continue to improve the use of data, identify need and develop appropriate interventions to close he poverty related attainment gap. Joint cross-island professional learning has taken place to developed skills in data use and how to make best use of the Pupil Equity Funding.
  • HM Inspectors will continue to share practice using social media campaigns, dedicated sections within Scotland Learns newsletters, webinars and inclusion within thematic reports and other publications.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Education Scotland – Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC)

All the island local authorities have set ambitious attainment stretch aims and have clear plans to support improvement through Strategic Equity Funding. Each local authority has different approaches to raising attainment and the use of Pupil Equity Funding which is appropriate to their context. The joint work of the attainment advisors across Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles facilitates ways in which staff from across the three island local authorities can collaborate and jointly work at solutions for closing the poverty-related attainment gap on islands.

The Highland Council

Pupil Equity plans are now being monitored by collaborative lead officers, who ensure they are aligned with school improvement plans and that data is used to inform interventions. Visits to schools include discussions on the PEF plans. Earlier this year Education Scotland published a PEF evaluation.

The Attainment Advisor has provided a presentation to Head Teachers from the west area (including the island schools) on the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) refresh and use of PEF. Education Scotland's Education Officer for Secondary Curriculum Gaelic has been engaging with a Depute Head Teacher from Portree High School, Skye, who is leading work on increasing attainment in Gaelic literacy. The local authority is also working on finalising a tracking and monitoring data system to be used by all schools across Highland. This will help to ensure attainment data is consistent and used to inform planning and intervention to improve attainment and close the poverty related attainment gap.

Orkney Islands Council

The Attainment Advisor supported the local authority in the setting of its stretch aims. This was achieved by collating and analysing data for 2021-22 and data over time. The SAC leads for Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles and the attainment advisor for each LA meet on a regular basis. They collaborated in the reviewing processes for setting stretch aims. The Attainment Advisor has met with all schools to review their data and the tracking and monitoring of their school targets and LA stretch aims using Orkney's Tracking Toolkit. A particular focus of the meetings is to support Head Teachers and practitioners in identifying gaps for children in receipt of free school meals and those who have experienced care. The attainment advisor worked with the LA to analyse the recently published Achievement of a Curriculum for Excellence Levels. Overall, there is an improving picture in the attainment in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

The Attainment Advisor reviewed all Pupil Equity Fund reports for 2021-22 and the plans for 2022-23. Feedback was provided to all Head Teachers on how these could be improved. In school meetings the Attainment Advisor and Head Teacher discuss the pupil equity fund spend and uncommitted funds to ensure that there are no underspends. At the LA's recent face-to-face day for Head Teachers, the Attainment Advisor provided sessions for all attendees on the importance of ensuring that the pupil equity fund is being used to target gaps within their schools.

The Attainment Advisors for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles work collaboratively to provide professional learning sessions which focus on the SAC agenda. The sessions are responsive and have been based on the feedback and requests from the target group. Attendees includes Head Teachers, Depute Heads, Principal Teachers and aspiring leaders.

Argyll and Bute

Since starting in Easter 2022, the Attainment Advisor has been working with the local authority to initially provide support for mainland schools. As the role developed and trusted relationships have been formed the Attainment Advisor has supported more rural and island schools.

As part of the Head Teacher event in September 2022, the Attainment Advisor presented on the SAC stretch aims and facilitated discussion amongst school leaders. This was structured so that island and rural schools were brought together exclusively to discuss what this meant for them in their context. Support visits were undertaken to three schools on the island of Islay in December 2022: Port Ellen Primary, Port Charlotte Primary and Islay High School. Further visits are planned in 2023 to continue professional dialogue and learning around raising attainment.

Argyll and Bute has twenty-three inhabited islands and twelve island schools (some are being mothballed). The local authority has allocated part of their strategic equity funding year 2022-23 to support rural and island schools who currently do not receive pupil equity funding but are aware of a poverty-related attainment gap within the pupil cohort. The Attainment Advisor is supporting the local authority and these schools to implement this funding using examples of best practice.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

The local authority collaborated at length with the Attainment Advisor and colleagues as they worked to develop their stretch aims. The Attainment Advisor also offered cluster Head Teacher surgeries resulting in standards and quality and improvement plans being much more concise and having a clear focus on stretch aims. With the support of the Attainment Advisor, new monitoring and tracking processes for the SAC is part of a wider implementation of tracking and monitoring across the local authority school clusters.

Each school now has a separate detailed planning, tracking, and monitoring process in place for identified pupils working closely with the SAC Education Attainment Workers. Schools and the local authority are in a good place to be able to evidence impact of raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Head Teachers are proactive in asking for the support of the Attainment Advisor and there is a focus on ensuring the analysis of data leads to improvement and that practitioners understand the data available and how to use it. The Attainment Advisor has also brokered support in a number or curriculum areas and in key cross-cutting themes to support improvement.


Considerable progress has been made in setting stretch aims and implementing the SAC refresh. The SAC lead and Attainment Advisor in Shetland have worked closely to develop an overarching logic model – 'The Ambition – Our journey to excellence and equity for Shetland's learners.' This sets out the local stretch aims and long-term strategic outcomes for the next four years. It has been developed in consultation with central local authority staff and with Head Teachers. Within this, development groups have been set up to plan and take forward each of the stretch aims. The Attainment Advisor has supported these groups to develop plans for each workstream. Head Teachers have had considerable input into setting the priorities during recent development days. The Attainment Advisor led an input to create a consistency of understanding of what needs to be achieved and of the terminology within the logic model. As a result, there is a keen sense of ownership of the plan. A shared vision is in place for future priorities, both at local and individual school level.

The Attainment Advisor organised a virtual event on achieving 'Excellence and Equity in Shetland.' This was a multi-agency event with a number of professionals attending. The event focused on the SAC refresh, what has been learned so far and on sharing practice from across Shetland. Further plans are being progressed for continued sharing of approaches to the SAC and impact across Shetland.

The Attainment Advisor has worked closely with the central officer team to improve approaches in tracking data from all schools. This will support the tracking and monitoring of progress towards the stretch aims and the provision of targeted support, where required.

We committed to consider the needs of adult learners in our island communities as we develop our adult learning strategy for Scotland.

Implementation Route Map action

  • We will engage with adult learners in our island communities to identify how we can remove barriers to learning as we start to deliver the Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland.
  • An Island Communities Impact Assessment will be undertaken ahead of the publication of the new Adult Learning Strategy.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

An Island Communities Impact Assessment was undertaken ahead of the publication of the Adult Learning Strategy in May 2022 and is available online. The strategy's focus on removing barriers to learning and increasing opportunities for adult learners are likely to have a positive impact on island communities. The immediate focus of the strategy's initial stages of delivery is to engage across the sector and consult further to ensure that the views of adult learners, providers and practitioners are considered before further work is carried out on a number of high-level actions. This will enable a better understanding of the learning journeys that adult learners from island communities take.

There are opportunities in place for Gaelic adult learners in island areas. In these locations such as Sabhal Mor Ostaig, UHI Outer Hebrides, Iomairt Colmcille Ile and Ceòlas are important. In addition, the Speak Gaelic adult learning initiative can be found in classes, on TV, online and on radio.



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