Scotland Can Teach Us a Wee Bit about Reforms

By Silver, Ruth | Times Educational Supplement, August 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

Scotland Can Teach Us a Wee Bit about Reforms


Silver, Ruth, Times Educational Supplement


Restructuring yet again looms large in further education in the UK. Luckily, the sector has long been accustomed to reacting, adapting and changing shape in response to shifting policy landscapes.

Across the UK, skills devolution continues apace, with local authorities and City Deal leaders looking to their peers elsewhere for lessons to learn and steps to avoid.

As the flow of area reviews spreads across England, it's heartening that FE and skills has become a focal point of governmental activity, for British FE merits this visibility at the centre of the educational system.

I've been heartened by the reforms happening already in Scotland, where I worked on the Glasgow colleges post-merger curriculum review, then chaired the higher education Commission on Widening Access, set up by first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Challenging reforms have taken place throughout the FE sector, encouraging new networks and partnerships in service to their local economies and citizens.

From what I have witnessed, many are over the teething stages and are beginning to show some real progress and newness in handling the changed policy agenda they are faced with. England's leaders can learn a great deal from the experiences of cutting-edge leaders across Scotland.

Innovating for the future does not, and should not, happen in isolation. It is vitally important to take stock of the changing reality of policy in order to ask what can be done differently to ensure the future relevance, success and sustainability of our FE institutions. Further, exercises in pausing and thinking about the leadership that is shaping the sector must not be narrow nor limited to our immediate surroundings.

Up and down the country, college principals, local business leaders and learning professionals are seeking advice from those area reviews that have already reported. …

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