Author Archives: Education News Team

Minister comments on 2016-17 widening access statistics⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Funding Council’s Report on Widening Access 2016-17, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“These figures are a stark reminder of why this Government was right to take the action we did on widening access.

“They show that in the four years up to 2016-17 nothing had changed and, on their own, universities were not making improvement in increasing the percentage of students from the 20% most deprived areas.

“The Commission on Widening Access reported in March 2016, by which time the vast majority of students had already applied for the 2016-17 academic year. So these figures provide a baseline from which to judge how successfully the Commission’s recommendations will be implemented – at a national level but also at an individual institution level.

“More recent figures from UCAS show a 13% increase in the number of Scots from disadvantaged areas getting a place to study at a Scottish university in 2017-18. So we expect to see demonstrable progress next year and beyond.”

Background

  • The Scottish Funding Council report on Widening Access 2016-17 can be viewed on the Scottish Funding Council website. http://www.sfc.ac.uk/publications-statistics/statistical-publications/statistical-publications-2018/SFCST062018.aspx
  • The data shows that, in 2016-17, 13.8% of full-time first degree entrants were from SIMD20. For all Higher Education entrants (including sub-degree and college), 17.7% are from SIMD 20.
  • The Commission on Widening Access target, accepted by the Scottish Government is, by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived backgrounds should represent 20% of entrants to higher education, with equality of access seen in both the college and university sector.
  • To drive forward progress to the 2030 goal the interim targets are:
    – 16% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2021;
    – 18% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2026;
    – By 2021, an individual institutional target for universities  of 10%.
  • The Commission’s final report was published in March 2016. The main UCAS deadline for the 2016-17 academic year was January 2016.
  • The UCAS 2017 End of Cycle report (published December/January) showed a 13% increase in the number of Scots from the most deprived communities getting places to study at a Scottish university in 2017 (4,565 in 2016 to 5,170 in 2017).

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#IsThisOk?⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Yesterday, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville visited the University of Stirling to learn more about a joint initiative between the University and Student’s Union to combat sexual violence and misconduct.

Here Jill Stevenson, Head of Student Support Services at the University, sets out how partnership working has been critical to the initiative’s success.

OVER the past two-and-a-half years, staff and students at the University of Stirling have been working closely together to develop and implement a joint strategy to prevent and tackle sexual violence and misconduct. It is characterised by the principles of collaboration, prevention and shared ownership for a culture of respectful, healthy relationships in our community.

Back in 2015, a group of students and Gender Studies staff jointly hosted a screening of the US documentary, The Hunting Ground, which sparked a series of discussions between senior University staff and students about sexual violence in universities. Following those discussions, a strong commitment to jointly take action at Stirling emerged.

Following several months of development and consultation with staff and students, and engagement with a wide range of partners including Rape Crisis Forth Valley, Police Scotland, Stirling & District Women’s Aid, the local Gender Based Violence Partnership and the National Rape Task Force, our joint strategy was launched to more than 100 guests in December 2017 by our Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac, and former Students’ Union President, Dave Keenan, with contributions from a range of external partners.

The strategy commits both organisations to “take all steps within their power to prevent, tackle and respond appropriately and supportively to incidents of sexual violence or misconduct – in all its forms – that may affect our students, staff and those who use our facilities and services.” To achieve this aim, we aspire to achieve four key objectives:

  • Foster a culture where sexual violence, harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct are not tolerated and are actively challenged
  • Ensure that our staff and students are clear about their options and receive appropriate support if they are a victim-survivor of sexual misconduct
  • Ensure University and Students’ Union staff and officers are clear about how to respond to and support students or colleagues if they have been affected by sexual violence or misconduct; and
  • Improve our knowledge and understanding about the prevalence of – and impact of our work to prevent and tackle – sexual misconduct in our community

We didn’t develop this strategy because we think there is a particular issue with sexual violence at the University of Stirling: research shows unequivocally that issues of gender based and sexual violence are pervasive throughout society. However, we recognise the powerful role that the University has as an employer, an educator, and a supporter of thousands of students, many of whom are or will go on to become the influencers and leaders of future society. We feel that we have a responsibility and a unique position to create dialogue and critical thinking about these issues amongst our University community, and to make a tangible difference to society.

Since we launched the strategy, we’ve been working hard. Some of our achievements so far include:

  • The launch of a dedicated microsite, which contains key information on sexual violence and consent, the law in Scotland, options for survivors, support available at the University and provided by partners, and guidance for those who are supporting a student, colleague or friend who has been affected.
  • The launch of our multiple award winning awareness-raising campaign #IsThisOk which seeks to raise awareness of sexual violence and encourages everyone to challenge their own assumptions and take steps to prevent and tackle sexual and gender based violence
  • The development of clear guidance on what to do if you or a friend has been affected by sexual violence
  • A comprehensive training programme for staff and students, which is now being built into induction processes
  • Creation of a 12-strong Sexual Violence & Misconduct Liaison Officer (SVMLO) network; a group of staff who are intensively trained to respond to disclosures and provide guidance to anyone affected by sexual violence

Over the coming year, we’ll be taking further action, including:

  • New mechanisms to make reporting easier, including a new online reporting tool
  • Research into the experiences of those who have received a disclosure of sexual violence or misconduct at the University
  • The development of a network of student #IsThisOk workshop facilitators, who will lead conversations about sexual violence with other students across the University
  • Continued close work with our partners, including further dialogue with the Scottish Government and other universities to identify ways we can collaborate further

We are very proud of the work that’s happening at the University of Stirling to encourage everyone to ask #IsThisOk and to take action if not. We are starting to see the impact of our work and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to make our society a safer and better place for everyone.

Jill Stevenson, Head of Student Support Services, University of Stirling

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Articulation in action⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville today met a former roadie who swapped life touring the world with a band to train for his dream job as an ambulance paramedic thanks to a college access course to university.

Chris Anderson, who is now studying for his BSc in Paramedic Science at Glasgow Caledonian University, was travelling and working at international music venues when he realised his true vocation.

Chris, who is 39 and originally from Bellshill, said:

“I witnessed a few injuries that happened in the large crowds that gathered for our concerts. I watched the emergency personnel that came in, taking ill or injured people out of the crowds and looking after them and work they did seemed both exciting and important. It inspired me to change direction, go to college and now I’ll be ready to apply to the ambulance service when I graduate.”

Chris was one of the students meeting Scotland’s Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP when she visited Glasgow Caledonian University to find out about the support available for more than 1,000 college students who join degree courses at the University each year.

Ms Somerville, said:

“This has been a good opportunity to see the work that Glasgow Caledonian University is taking forward to support students from a variety of backgrounds to fulfil their potential at university. Widening access is a key priority for this Government. Part of delivering this change is looking at examples of best practice to understand what works well and sharing that learning across the university sector.

“The work that Glasgow Caledonian University does to support students articulating from college is a clear demonstration of the university’s commitment to the widening access agenda. It was a privilege to meet Chris and hear his amazing story – it really brings home how important college is as a route into university and why it is imperative that we do what we can as a government and as a sector to make these opportunities more readily available.”

Paramedic Science student Chris Anderson meeting Scottish Government Higher Education minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP at Glasgow Caledonian University campus

Glasgow Caledonian University welcomes more than 1,000 students from 17 colleges around Scotland each year, the second largest intake in the country. As well as access to summer schools, college applicants can also use the library, gym and computing labs to help them prepare for the move to university.

The University’s Head of Outreach, Eleanor Wilson MBE, said:

“We work closely with colleges to make Glasgow Caledonian University first choice for many students. Our admissions procedures recognise applicant’s potential with measures in place to support students from the beginning. Through our student mentors and highly-skilled staff, we aim to ease transition from college to university by creating an excellent student experience.  Their prospects are very good, because we have just recorded our best-ever figures for students completing their degrees and 97% are in work or further study six months after graduation.”

Chris Anderson says the college courses he took were a perfect preparation for university. He is now going out on placement as part of his course and he’s certain he’s made the right move.

“I get to go out observing and assisting qualified paramedics as they work. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, but nothing compares to that feeling of riding in the ambulance on the way to help someone who is in a life-threatening situation. To be able to be there, to be equipped and trained to help-out and maybe save a life is just amazing. It’s a lot more exciting than a tour bus.”

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Equality and fairness at heart of college and university agenda⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has put equality and fairness at the heart of her guidance to universities and colleges for 2018-19.

Setting out her expectations for the sector in the letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council, published today, the Minister said that continued progress in implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access is vital.

The letter sets out the government’s expectations and priorities for its investment of £1.8 billion in the further and higher education sectors in 2018-19.

In particular, the letter highlighted the leadership role expected of the Scottish Funding Council to drive forward improvements which will contribute to equality and fairness in the further and higher education system.

This includes taking forward the Equally Safe initiative to address violence against women and girls on campus, as well as working with student’s organisations to ensure universities and colleges have support services in place that meet the needs of students with mental health difficulties.

Institutions will be expected to develop a strategy for mental health and work with NUS Scotland and their local student association to develop a Student Mental Health Agreement.

Speaking as the letter of guidance was published, Ms Somerville said:

“Education remains this Government’s defining mission and the Scottish Funding Council has a crucial role to play in supporting our drive to achieve educational excellence, equity and economic growth.

“As this letter makes clear, widening access to university for people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds remains our key priority and I am clear that progress must continue at pace.

“It with this in mind that I am putting equality and fairness at the heart of this year’s guidance to the sector.

“I am determined that we embrace the spirit of the equality agenda, as well as meet expectations on access, and I amclear about the role SFC must play to drive forward improvements in key areas such as student safety and well-being, gender equality and the living wage.

“We know that universities and colleges have a key role to play in achieving our ambitions and that is why we have demonstrated our commitment by increasing their budget.

“Our expectation is to see demonstrable progress in delivering a further and higher education system that is more equal, accessible and nurturing to all of our students, no matter their background or personal circumstances.”

Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“We welcome this latest guidance from the Minister and will continue to ensure excellence and equity in Scotland’s colleges and universities. We share the Minister’s ambition for equality and fairness and will work with colleges, universities and our partners to drive forward progress in all areas of equal access.”

View the Scottish Government’s Letter of Guidance 2018-19 to the Scottish Funding Council online.

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Minister praises introduction of access thresholds at Abertay University⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville has said that Abertay University’s early introduction of access thresholds for students from disadvantaged backgrounds should be seen “as an example” for other institutions.

On a visit to Abertay University today to discuss their implementation of access thresholds, Ms Somerville said:

“This Government firmly believes that access thresholds have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing inequalities in higher education. There is extensive evidence that universities get the best students by taking into account the social and educational background of an applicant in its admissions process, which is why access thresholds have an important role to play.

“This is a view supported by the Commission on Widening Access, who recommended that all universities introduce access thresholds by 2019.

“So I welcome the opportunity to hear from Abertay University about how they have already implemented access thresholds, in time for the 2017 academic year. The initial findings are encouraging, with the number of entrants who received an adjusted offer doubling in 2017-18.

“This sits alongside Abertay University’s approach to take into account individual student’s level of preparedness for university and ensure the right support is available for those coming through the contextualised admissions process. The speed with which Abertay University has introduced access thresholds is to be commended and should be seen as an example that many other institutions across the country can learn from.”

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University, added:

“We look forward to introducing the Minister to Abertay University’s new approach to supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  This involves making offers of admission at an ‘access threshold’, with a much lower academic requirement than previously.”

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New figures on higher education students at Scottish institutions⤴

from @ Engage for Education

New figures have been published today by the Scottish Funding Council examining the higher education sector in Scotland in 2016-17.

Read the key points from the publication:

Commenting on the figures, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“It is welcome to see in these latest statistics that we have a record number of post-graduate students and increases in both part-time and older learners.

“This Government is determined to make higher education as accessible as possible to everyone in Scotland. We recognise the importance of post-graduate study and providing the opportunities for people to get a higher education qualification later in life. That is why we are enabling even more people to study for a postgraduate qualification in the coming years by expanding access to tuition fee loans and living cost loans to students studying by distance learning.

“What these figures show is that the higher education sector in this country is continuing to go from strength to strength, with colleges playing a vital role in the delivery of many higher education courses across Scotland.”

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Universities urged to do more to support the poorest students⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Student outcomes inequality highlighted in latest Fair Access Commissioner paper.

Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville has urged the university sector to do more to support students from the most deprived backgrounds throughout their studies.

It comes as the latest discussion paper from the Commissioner for Fair Access shows the extent of the gap in retention rates, achievement levels and outcomes between students from the most disadvantaged communities and those from better off areas.

Ms Somerville said:

“This report brings in to sharp focus the extent and the range of the barriers which result in students from the most deprived backgrounds experiencing inequality at every step of their journey through university and into adult life.

“The Commissioner sets out a timely challenge to us all to do more to address this shocking inequality. Certainly I accept that challenge on behalf of the Government and would encourage universities to do likewise.

“It is an issue that I have raised consistently with university principals and intend to do so again through the next Widening Access Delivery Group. I have already asked the Scottish Funding Council to consider changes to the university outcome agreements. If more needs to be done to improve their effectiveness, then I will not hesitate to act.

“We must all be focused on picking up the pace of change. I am absolutely determined to ensure that more young people from our poorest communities don’t just make it to fresher’s fair, but to graduation day and beyond.”

Background

The Commissioner for Fair Access Discussion Paper: Retention, Outcomes and Destinations can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.

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Developing the digital skills to change career⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Last week Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville visited CodeClan, the UK’s first accredited digital skills academy.

Claire Smith, a graduate of CodeClan’s 16-week software development course, writes about her experiences as a career changer moving into the digital sector.

“After University I was lucky enough to get work in an industry that was relevant to my degree, Japanese Studies. However it didn’t pan out for several reasons. I found myself at a loss as to what to do next, and spent my free time working with a local Food Waste charity. Through this charity’s need to digitise their logistics I became involved in developing an app.

“From there, it was a natural process of wanting to push my skills further so I applied for CodeClan, although this involved some big risks that I had to consider, including money, time commitment and the big question of whether I would be able to get a job after doing the course. But I weighed it up and it seemed worth it.

 

“CodeClan is a 16-week intensive course covering the basics of web development. One thing I knew from the start was that it would not be a spoon-feeding course where your graduation present is a job. It involves your full commitment and pushing your learning further outside of class hours. However, the support of my instructors and teamwork with classmates kept me motivated through the course.

 

“Assignments were handed out daily as well as a mini project to cover each weekend. This led on to group projects, which I loved. The course highlighted that a successful project depends not just on technical knowledge but also learning about Agile methodology and the workflow process. But it’s not all work and no play. I was often in the ping pong room or having a game of Werewolf with other students.

 

“CodeClan organised Employer Sessions, where various companies would come in and give an insight of what it would be like to work for them. And by the end of the course, I had a portfolio covering a range of languages including Ruby, Java and Javascript to aid in getting a job.

 

“CodeClan put a lot of time into creating opportunities to meet employers, and it was through this that I got a job as a Backend Developer at Signal where I’ve  been working for just over a year.

 

“As a Backend Developer, I work mostly in PHP, a language that was not covered by CodeClan. But the experience of picking up various languages in just 16 weeks taught me the skills needed to get going with PHP. After a year working in the industry, I look back on the risk I took and I’m glad I was in the position to take it.

 

“One of the major learning curves I’ve had, and will continue to have, is being comfortable not knowing the answer – and having the curiosity to explore and research until I do. I am also lucky that my curiosity is supported and encouraged by my fellow colleagues. Working in a digital agency like Signal offers plenty of exciting challenges which helps keep me motivated to improve my skills.”

For more information about digital careers in Scotland visit digitalworld.net

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Year of Young People 2018: making the voices of young people heard⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Emma Hunter, aged 20, from Dundee, is a Digital Modern Apprentice working with the Year of Young People 2018 team.

On the eve of the new year, Emma writes about her hopes and ambitions for 2018.

AS a young person growing up in today’s political climate I feel that anything put in place to help young people is vitally important. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to be part of Year of Young People 2018.

Media is one of the focal points of modern life; it builds bridges between communities and cultures and shapes opinions on how we view the world. This resource is vitally important for young people, to make sure they have their voices heard on a wider, international platform. It’s a privilege my generation is lucky to have; I find it inspiring, if not a little overwhelming, how much the media can affect our perceptions as well as offering new ones.

I’ve always taken an interest in current affairs, especially those surrounding my own generation. I attended the Scottish Young People’s Conference in 2016 and was lucky enough to ask the Scottish Education Secretary questions about mental health care for young people. This is an issue close to my own heart and I found the opportunity eye-opening, as it was a room of like-minded people who all wanted their voices heard.

This was also one of the first times I felt like my voice was being heard by the wider public, not just by my peers. This is an opportunity I feel should be available to all young people in Scotland, as being heard can make any situation less daunting. To me this is what Year of Young People 2018 is all about: making sure the voices of all young people are heard.

I come from a background of adoption and also spent time in foster care. Unfortunately, when I was growing up I didn’t have access to a forum where I could give my thoughts and feelings about this subject. As well as this, I’ve spent time working with children in a foster family and they also felt like their voices were not being heard. A platform where people can share stories or simply read about other people is something is that Year of Young People can offer.

In my new role as Year of Young People Digital Apprentice, I will be using social media to communicate and share good news stories and I hope I can play a role in challenging negative stereotypes young people are too often faced with.

For more information visit yoyp2018.scot or follow @YOYP2018 #YOYP2018 on Twitter.

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Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research 2016⤴

from @ Engage for Education

The majority of pupils are well behaved and a credit to their school, according to teachers across Scotland.

Behaviour In Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) 2016 is based on feedback from school staff and provides a picture of behaviour and behaviour management approaches in publicly funded mainstream schools.

 The research shows:

  •  The vast majority of staff in schools report pupils as being generally well behaved. Between 79-99% of staff (ranging from support staff to headteachers) reported that pupils are generally well behaved
  • Most staff gave their own school ethos a high rating (between 86% and 96% of staff reported this)
  • The use of restorative approaches and solution oriented approaches increased between 2012 and 2016
  • Most teachers were confident of their abilities to promote positive relationships and behaviour and to respond to indiscipline in their classrooms

 Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“I very much welcome the news that the majority of pupils in our schools are well behaved. We want all our children and young people to behave in a respectful manner, not only to staff but also to one another, and we will continue to work towards making even more progress in this area.

“I would like to thank all our school staff who work hard to promote the positive relationships we want our pupils to aspire to.”

 Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People, said:

“COSLA welcomes the publication of the latest Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research which, as in previous reports, highlights that the vast majority of pupils are well behaved and respectful to their peers and school staff. 

“This is due, in no small part, to the hard work of all staff and pupils in our schools to promote a culture of positive behaviours and I thank them all for contributing to creating that positive ethos. 

We will work with all our partners to make sure that we continue to make progress in this area – for our pupils, families and communities.”

 Tony Rafferty, National Parent Forum of Scotland, said:

“As a parent of an S3 pupil and a member of the National Parent of Scotland, I welcome this comprehensive report. Now all parents will be able to find out what the actual scenario in Scotland is, rather than the perceived situation.”

 Katie Rafferty, Director of respectme, said:

“As Scotland’s national anti-bullying service, respectme welcomes this report and its finding that most staff encounter positive behaviour from pupils all or most of the time. We should however draw lessons from the views of teachers contained within the report about levels of respect and resilience, particularly among primary school pupils. 

“We must ensure that all children and young people experience the positive ethos and cultures within their learning settings that help them reach their full potential. Fundamental to this are relationships that are based on respect; between children and between children and adults.

Ellen Doherty, General Teaching Council Scotland said:

“The General Teaching Council Scotland is always welcoming of research which provides further insight and understanding of the key issues that our registrants face every day and importantly has the potential to impact and the classroom.”

 Larry Flanagan, Educational Institute of Scotland, said:

“Both the research and the report highlight the key role of the teacher-pupil relationship in creating an ethos where positive behaviour can be promoted and negative action, such as bullying, can be challenged.

“Supporting schools by ensuring that adequate resources are in place to allow a focus on relationships to flourish is vital. The EIS is keen to work with other agencies to this end and welcomes the report as a stimulus to action in this area.”

 

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