Early Learning and Childcare
The impacts of COVID-19 necessitated a delay to the full roll-out of the duty to provide 1140 hours of Funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC), which was set out in a joint communique from COSLA and the Minister for Children and Young People to local authorities in July 2020.
We remain absolutely committed to delivering the expansion, and the return to 1140 as soon as it is reasonable to do so. Where local authorities are already delivering expanded entitlements, we have made clear that it is critical that this is protected and maintained. Full funding for 2020-21 to support the expansion has been - and will remain - in place for local authorities and flexibility has been given to enable a focused approach to address the needs of children and parents, in recognition of the differing challenges faced locally.
We continue to work with Local Government and the childcare sector to discuss and agree a realistic timetable for full roll-out of 1140 hours entitlement. This will allow us to bring legislation back to the Scottish Parliament to secure 1140 hours entitlement for all children and most importantly to make expanded ELC a reality for families.
The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) continues to develop their relationships with all three Services and carry on the successful work to overcome barriers experienced by spouses who qualified as teachers elsewhere in the UK, to allow them to teach in Scotland. In particular, GTCS are working with the Navy Families Federation (NFF) on a joint publication detailing the requirements for teaching in Scotland specifically aimed at those from the Armed Forces community. An advanced draft of the publication is currently being reviewed by the NFF. The GTCS receives a number of enquiries from spouses of Service personnel and continue to identify routes to registration for them.
HE:FE Armed Forces Champions Network
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring all learners, including Veterans and their families, have the same opportunities to access Further and Higher Education and is working collaboratively with partners from the education sector and representatives from the Armed Forces to take forward work in this area.
The Veterans and Armed Forces Community Group (AFVCG) was established in 2017 and supports the work of the HE:FE Veterans Champions Network with Veterans Scotland. The AFVCG links with other key groups supporting the military and their families and over the next year will be exploring existing and potential research on children from military families as well as drawing on any data that may be available to provide additional support to this group.
The HE:FE Veterans & Armed Forces Champions Network was established in January 2019 by Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Napier Universities. Since its creation, every University in Scotland and around 85% of FE Colleges have joined the network. This is up from 70% and 60% respectively last year. The majority of members have now signed the Armed Forces Covenant and appointed Veterans and Armed Forces Champions. The Network has established geographical hubs and produced a toolkit for use by the staff.
From next year, SFC will collect data on Service leavers in University to help support a better understanding of Veterans representation in University, success rates and the number being supported by articulation and other routes such as the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP).
Scotland's education system is underpinned by policy and legislation designed so that services adapt to meet the individual needs of children, and work to identify and overcome disadvantage.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that children from Armed Forces families get the additional support they need as a result of challenges related to the nature of their parent's Service. Service children in Scotland who need additional support for learning because of their parent's role in the Armed Forces will have their needs met through the Additional Support for Learning framework. Additional support needs encompass a wide range of issues, including those which might impact on children from Service families, such as bereavement, interrupted learning, and coping with parental deployment.
The Scottish Government published its joint response to the independently chaired review of implementation of Additional Support for Learning in October 2020 and, along with COSLA, has accepted the recommendations made by the review. We will continue to work with key partners to deliver these actions to ensure that children and young people can flourish in their learning and beyond. The Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group will oversee progress made against these recommendations and will report to Scottish Ministers and COSLA in October 2021. The action plan will inform, and help us to build on, work that is already being taken forward to enhance the experiences of children and young people. This includes our investment of an additional £15 million to improve implementation of additional support for learning across Scotland. Furthermore, the Scottish Government will provide £48 million between 2020-2023 for education authorities to develop counselling services.
The Scottish Government and SFC are continuing to engage with stakeholders to explore the barriers to Further and Higher Education which may exist for children of Service families. This includes continuing to support the work of the Service Children's Progression (SCiP) Alliance Scottish Hub. Established in 2018 and led by the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), the Hub is hosted by Heriot-Watt University and includes representatives from Scottish universities, colleges and the Armed Forces. It is working on a range of digital resources to raise awareness of Armed Forces issues aimed at teaching and support staff. The six learning steps will be: The Covenant; Armed Forces family life; The Emotional Cycles of Separation and Loss; Transitions; The Views of Children and Young People; and Research.
Furthermore, practitioner resources and case studies of supporting Armed Forces children have been included on Education Scotland's National Improvement Hub.
SDS has, from the 2020-21 school year, included in its School Partnership Agreement (the annual agreement between schools and SDS which details agreed service delivery) a question about school/local authority Armed Forces champions. By identifying the Champion, SDS can have conversations with schools around their Armed Forces footprint, direct their service offer appropriately, and provide the best possible support to Service children.
Skills Development Scotland
Reskilling Veterans for Cyber Security Roles
Scottish Veterans are being retrained to help employers fill their growing demand for cyber security professionals. The partnership pilot project is funded by the Scottish Government and led by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with SaluteMyJob and Abertay University. The programme will reskill those with military security training and experience for roles such as security consultants, incident and security operations centre managers, as well as more specialist roles such as penetration testers. The pilot has been developed following research commissioned by Skills Development Scotland, looking into ways career changers and the unemployed could be reskilled for cyber security careers using alternative, flexible and accessible pathways. 20 ex-military participants are taking part in the programme to learn ethical hacking and penetration skills at Abertay, as well as through online study and with employer input. The project's goal is to add technical cyber skills to the students' existing military training and experience, to help them fill some of the 13,000 digital job vacancies in Scotland each year. The programme began in January 2020, is currently ongoing and now involves more online delivery. Veterans Scotland, Skillzminer and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre are also supporting the project.
Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET)
During March 2020, SDS worked with RCET to trial military children resource boxes which are intended to assist professionals supporting Armed Forces children. SDS is currently exploring the use of these resources as part of their engagement with children and to support the development of its advisors.
Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES)
SDS worked with ADES and delivered in September 2020 an event to raise awareness of military children. It was designed to increase awareness of the School Partnership Agreement, explore areas where local authorities, ADES, SDS and schools can work together to increase awareness of Armed Forces children and promote organisational networking and collaboration.
The ADES National Transitions Officer has undertaken a pilot exercise to gather data on the number and distribution of Armed Forces children in Scotland, including children of Veterans. This work will build on the research base in Scotland on Armed Forces children and families' school education experiences.
Promoting Scotland's Apprenticeships
Scotland's Apprenticeships continue to be promoted across the Veterans and Armed Forces Community via partner and champions networks. This includes raising awareness of www.apprenticeships.scot, which is Skills Development Scotland's go-to site on all matters relating to Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships. Foundation apprenticeships are aimed at senior phase pupils and continue to be promoted and supported in schools. Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are available to Service leavers and Veterans regardless of age and stage, providing valuable work-based learning and industry recognised qualifications while employed.
College and University Information
The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) continues to review its existing Armed Forces Guidance as part of its annual 'Change of Session' activities. The content of the guide relates specifically to SAAS eligibility criteria and the exceptions applicable to members of the Armed Forces and their families.