Post-school education, research and skills: interim purpose and principles

A draft framework for building an excellent post-school education, research and skills ecosystem for further discussion and feedback.

Developing the interim purpose and principles

Phase 1 - spring 2022

The interim Purpose and Principles has been developed in three phases. The first was a collation and review of the existing evidence, reports and commentary, including from the UK Government and Scottish Government. This involved:

  • previous work by the Scottish Government on the Learner Journey, the Future Skills Action Plan and National Strategy for Economic Transformation
  • the SFC review
  • the work of Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland and Unions
  • contributions from other’s with a stake in the system

This analysis was progressed alongside targeted engagement with:

  • NDPBs
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Student Awards Agency Scotland
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Colleges Development Network
  • Unions representing the college and university sectors
  • Colleges Scotland
  • Universities Scotland
  • YoungScot
  • the National Union of Students

We also spoke to individual institutions, a wide range of internal colleagues and the leads of other strands of wider education reform work including Professor Louise Hayward, who is leading the independent review of qualifications and assessment.

This analysis and engagement resulted in the publication of the scope and approach in July 2022. This set out the scope of the Purpose and Principles, presenting the opportunity to “see the whole” of what is a complex and diverse ecosystem. This ranges from the vital investment that employers make in the upskilling and development of their workers to the essential research, innovation and knowledge exchange taking place across our institutions and within our innovation centres. It also includes the vital contribution that our colleges and universities make to alleviating poverty through widening access and working with third sector and other partners to support community learning and development.

It also set out our timescales for delivery and our plans for further development of evidence and insight. It considered the relationship between the development of the Purpose and Principles and wider education reform work. This includes the national discussion on education, independent review of qualifications and assessment, independent review of the skills delivery landscape and the development and delivery of new education, qualifications and inspection agencies.

Phase 2  summer 2022

From this initial base we were able to undertake further engagement with Industry Leadership Groups and Business Organisations, the Scottish Youth Parliament and Developing Young Workforce (DYW) Employer Networks. From here we built out a first draft of the Purpose and Principles, supported by some statements about what implementing these might mean in practice.

During this time we have also been thinking about how we can ensure that the way that we frame the Purpose and Principles means they will generate change that works for everyone through embracing the Scottish Approach to Service Design. To that end we have been working with the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities and working with the Royal Society of Engineering to support the development of user personas for key target groups. This work is key to informing our approach to the development of impact assessments.

We have continued to build the evidence base. This has included working with NDPBs and partners across the ecosystem to begin a programme of work which aims to develop system level outcomes and metrics, aligned to those in National Strategy for Economic Transformation; develop a shared lexicon of terminology; and reflect back to the sector our understanding of the diversity of provision, learner expectations and outcomes, and links between education, skills and our economy.

Phase 3 - October to November 2022

From October to November 2022 we have been testing and refining the first draft of Purpose and Principles and developing our approach to the next crucial phase of engagement on the interim Purpose and Principles.

This has resulted in the interim Purpose and Principles that we want to test with you now. Under each of the principles we have described a range of topics that require further discussion if we are to implement the principle to its fullest extent. The next phase of our engagement between now and March 2023 is about hearing views on whether these are the right principles and on the potential impacts and implications of the policy choices that are available within the challenging and uncertain context that we face to deliver a path towards future sustainability for post-school education, skills and research in Scotland.

The final Purpose and Principles will be published alongside all relevant impact assessments and other supporting materials, including an implementation plan, in spring 2023. This will also enable the Purpose and Principles to reflect the conclusions of related work underway across Education Reform and the Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape.  



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