Yesterday, I read and heard various accounts of the Chancellor's budget in the Scottish media . They all said that much of the budget focused on the national health service or educational reforms in England which were not of any consequence for the devolved administrations.
In fact, we should be paying close attention to the vocational reform programme happening in England. There are some really interesting and challenging developments springing from it, which should be shaping thinking in Scotland.
Here are some accounts from the English media
I've a live Google Doc that keeps an eye on these developments from a Scottish perspective which I will update later.
The main news announcements in England show the continued shifts in thinking around what are now being called the T-Levels or technology level qualifications in England. The Chancellor announced an additional £50 Million investment in Further Education. This based on increasing the contact hours for 16-19 year olds in Colleges from 600 hours to 900 hours per year.
This will make College courses almost 9-5 programmes , as previously highlighted they will also have an up to three month work placement embedded in them. This will be norm by 2022. Initially this funding appears to be going into developing the new system.
In Scotland FE programmes still sit around the 600 hour mark - we have many of the same challenges around retention and achievement and the work readiness of FE learners. The additional funding and the approach of extending the hours for these learners is something that should be given every consideration in Scotland. This model is moving the training hours closer to the systems in Germany and other European states - which matches the rhetoric around the future of vocational learning in Scotland.
In 2018/19 there will also be an additional £40 Million invested in 'Life Long Learning' a term that is familiar to us in Scotland but has not been used in England for more than a decade. This to support adult literacy and numeracy and improve work based skills in line with the Industrial Strategy. The expectation being that a series of pilots will use digital technology to deliver new skills into the workplace. This part of developing plans around future skills and life long learning. So worth too having a dig into this.
The English system is in an incredibly disjointed state - but we should be learning the best lessons from it.
I hope the Scottish media start doing a better job of covering this reform programme and its implications for Scottish learners.
If you work in Scottish Further Education or with a Scottish Training provider you should tune into the English vocational reform programme.