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More Scottish school leavers stay on in education

People sitting in lecture theatreImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMore than 40% of Scottish school leavers went on to higher education in 2016/17

The percentage of Scotland’s school leavers staying on in education has continued to rise while the numbers going into training continue to fall.

New figures showed the percentage signing up for university last year was 40.7%, up from 37.8% six years ago.

A total of 26.8% opted for a college course – up 0.1% on 2011/12.

However, the percentage of school leavers going into training has steadily fallen from 4.5% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2016.

According to official statistics, there has been a year-on-year reduction in the percentage of leavers who are unemployed and seeking work or training.

In 2011/12, there were 8.25% who fell into this category, while in 2016/17 that figure was recorded at 4.5%.

The latest figures show that almost a quarter, 22%, have taken up employed work, down slightly on the previous year but up by 2.2% on 2011/12 figures.

School leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements are classified as having a “positive destination”.

The statisticians also say that for school leavers living in the most deprived areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 83.9% in 2011/12 to 89.6% in 2016/17.

For school leavers living in Scotland’s most affluent areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 95.1% in 2011/12 to 96.6% in 2016/17.

This latest data was recorded in October 2017, approximately three months after the youngsters left school.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is vital that every young person leaving school has the opportunity to make the choice that is right for them – whether that be university or college, training or a job.

“Today’s statistics show a record proportion of leavers in an initial positive destination and, in particular, a welcome increase to another record in those leavers from the most deprived backgrounds going on to a positive destination.”

‘Pursue radical measures’

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the statistics showed that the Scottish government had made “very little progress” on closing the attainment gap.

Their education spokeswoman, Liz Smith, said: “The SNP has completely failed to enable the most disadvantaged children to have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts when they leave school.

“Higher education is not the only choice for school leavers, but these figures demonstrate that students from poorer backgrounds are much less likely to take this path.

“This has to change, the SNP must pursue the radical measures necessary to make that change.”

Government’s planned test for four-year-olds will be ‘damaging’, education experts warn

The Independent online

The Government’s plans for a new test for four-year-olds will be “damaging to young children”, parents, teachers and psychotherapists have warned.

A coalition of campaigners has called on the Department for Education to abandon its proposals to spend almost £10m on a new baseline assessment for children at the start of Reception.

The new report, launched in parliament yesterday, warns that “enormous damage” can be done to children when adults believe that children’s ability is fixed and can be defined at a young age.

It adds that children “will be pushed into a world of high-stakes assessment” under the government’s plans, which is says is at “odds with young children’s learning and development.”

The More than a Score coalition – which represents 18 education and parents’ organisations – unveiled the dossier at a meeting hosted by shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin.

The early years experts argue that the assessment, due to be introduced in 2020, will add “another stressor to the existing load” and will “limit playful, creative, and intellectual experiences”.

The test is proposed for the first few weeks of Reception should be abandoned and replaced with teacher assessments throughout the year, campaigners argue.

Alison Roy, a lead child psychotherapist, told The Independent: “If children are being tested before they have established secure relationships with their teachers then it will not be an effective assessment of their capacity to learn or their academic ability.

“I think it is a huge risk as it could make children think school is a hostile place and a judgemental place, rather than a place where they can explore and learn about themselves and their world.”

On the proposed baseline assessment, confirmed by the Government in September last year, Ms Roy added: “I think it is putting undue stress on little children. It is not necessary to test them at that age. I think we have a responsibility to settle them. They are so emotionally fragile at that age.

“They also pick up on the stress of adults and if we have teachers under pressure to meet targets, then children are likely to pick up on the teacher’s reaction to that pressure as well as potentially, the emotional stress of their teachers.”

Madeleine Holt, from the parents’ organisation Rescue our Schools, said: “Parents are becoming far more aware that their children are being over tested. The new test would steer the teaching of four-year-olds towards an excessive focus on numeracy and literacy.”

Labour MP Tracy Brabin said: “I believe children learn through play and creativity, not just through examinations. That’s why it’s great More than a Score is leading on this important work.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Standards are rising in our schools with 1.9m more pupils in good or outstanding schools than compared to 2010.

“The baseline assessment will help establish the progress made by pupils from reception to the end of key stage 2 and ensure schools are accountable for pupils’ progress as well as their attainment.

“Schools will be provided with the required materials and guidance to administer the assessment, which will be carried out in normal teaching time by a teacher or teaching assistant.


The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) reported that a few continuing education courses were deemed ineligible for governmental subsidies after failing to meet the government’s requirements.

Yesterday, during a TDM program, Wong Chi Iong, Chief Executive of the Division of Continuing Education under the DSEJ, noted that, until January, the third phase of the DSEJ’s continuing education development program approved a total of more than 40,000 courses, although 10 percent of these were not approved for subsidies.

According to Wong, the cases without approval are related to the disqualification of course lecturers, unreasonable tuition fees, as well as poor course completion rates.

DSEJ has been criticized for failing to set up criteria for students’ attendance rate at specific institutions. One institution was denied inclusion in the subsidy fund despite their efforts to improve the attendance rate.

Wong said that this specific case was rejected due to the low attendance rate, since only 30 percent of the students finished the minimum of 70 percent of the classes.

DSEJ talked with the institution three times to advise them of the reason behind the rejection.

Wong expressed his understanding that students might be unable to attend the courses due to family or work reasons. He hopes that the courses’ organizers can nurture better performance in those courses to attract more residents to pursue continuous education.

Want to avoid the rise of a new extremism? Values-based schools and a ‘cosmocentric’ education are the key

This grassroots movement is finally being adopted around the world – and not before time, writes one pioneer of character education

“The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show” – Unknown

My wife Jane and I were in Iceland recently, where we gave a presentation at a conference called “The Spirit of Humanity”. People from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines were brought together to consider how we could promote the flourishing of humanity by focusing on what is happening that is positive. Our presentation was given with teachers from Álfaheidi School, a popular Icelandic values-based school for children aged 1 to 7.

The highlight of the presentation was a video that showed, in ways that words fail to do, the nurturing power of a school that is founded on positive human values, attachment, empowering relationships and a creative inner curriculum, which gives children a range of meaningful foundation experiences for life. The video, through simple photographs of these young children living their values, touched the hearts of the audience and was met by spontaneous applause when it ended. There was a powerful intuitive understanding that if all children received a similar education then humanity could be transformed.

We believe that young children are close to the soul of humanity and need our support to maintain their inquisitiveness, openness and natural desire to learn and experience. Values-based education (VbE) and its inner curriculum focuses on the human spirit, our essence, all that is unseen but is real, such as thoughts and emotions, experiences that create awe and wonder and the realisation of the connectedness of humanity.

When my colleagues and I developed the first explicitly VbE school in Oxfordshire, I knew that there would be people who would think it a distraction from the school’s core business or that such a emphasis should not be the focus for mainstream schools. I also knew that in order to satisfy the misgivings of many, I would have to demonstrate the impact of VbE as a practical philosophy that would effectively combine a knowledge and character-based curriculum.

Professor Terry Lovat, from Australia, visited the school and wanted the work he witnessed to influence the development of education in Australia. This he did, with an investment of $40 million in the process. The impact of the initiative was researched and the benefits were firmly established.