core theme policy area: education
Scotland has a highly skilled and productive workforce.
The country performs well in international comparisons of skills and qualification levels. Scotland’s youth unemployment rate is amongst one of the lowest in Europe.
The Scottish Government is investing in major new attainment funds and continuing a programme of investing in the school estate first started in the early 2000s.
Scotland’s university sector is internationally recognised with five universities in the global top 200. Analysis by the Fraser of Allander Institute has found that college graduates provide a multi-billion boost to the Scottish economy each year.
But it is also recognised that there are challenges.
In recent years, the performance of Scotland’s schools have slipped back on key performance indicators for maths, science and reading. The latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures show that in all three, Scotland is ranked as ‘average’, whereas back in 2000 it was ranked as ‘above average’.
Moreover, a significant attainment gap still exists between students from the most affluent backgrounds and those from poorer households.
an informed debate
The Scottish Government has made improving Scotland’s education its top priority.
There will no doubt always be a debate over the level of investment required to meet the ambitious goals policymakers have set for education standards. But there are also important lessons from other countries in terms of the structure and delivery of education, skills and training irrespective of the level of investment.
Bold and innovative policy ideas are required to deliver improved outcomes.
Key areas of debate include –
· What governance arrangements are best for schools? Should local authorities continue to lead or should greater discretion be given to teachers and parents?
· Is the focus of the school curriculum right and/or how might it be improved?
· What is the best way to fund Scotland’s university and college sector to ensure that they remain internationally competitive?
· How might the skills and education systems evolve in response to increased automation and the need for people to develop skills over the course of their career?
These are just a selection of the types of questions that we would be interested in hearing proposals on.