YPI Scotland

“A milestone anniversary for education should be the time for a milestone change,” by Ali Maclachlan, UK Director

“The Education Act (Scotland) was signed in 1872, creating a legal obligation for young people to be educated, entitled to lessons that would prepare them with the vital skills and knowledge to succeed as the future workforce.

“This was shortly after the Industrial Revolution, during the Victorian era. Children were entering a world their parents could never have imagined. They would be responsible for using modern technologies and expanding their horizons beyond their hometowns.

“Imagine the excitement. The nervousness. The bravery. The innovation.

“Fast forward 150 years, to this landmark anniversary, and we are once again undergoing a huge period of change; now living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A 2017 report (Shwab) said that technology will ‘fundamentally transform the entire structure of the world economy, our communities and our human identities’.

“While in their adult lives, the children of 1872 would move from using horses to the early tractors, the young people of the 21st century must also be prepared for jobs and technologies that do not yet exist.

“There is hope that the current period of education reform will transform the learning experience in support of young people’s readiness to cope with this new world. This requires the changemakers involved in this reform to be radical, bold, and brave.

“If we don’t get this reform right, when the mandate for change has never been clearer, the consequences could not be higher.

“There has been a seismic shift in our economy and society in the past 150 years. Unfortunately, the structures surrounding education have not moved at the same pace. This is, without doubt, putting our young people, their future success, and our wider community prosperity at risk.

“Our children and schools are still judged on the ability to pass exams, to retain and regurgitate information.

“Is this what young people want? Is this what employers believe is best preparing the workforce? Is this how teachers want to inspire young minds? From our evaluation activity with hundreds of people engaged with school communities, the resounding response is no.

“A knowledge-engaged curriculum which brings learning to life through real-life, authentic connections with a focus on skills development addresses how we can better support young people to thrive in school in order to thrive in the world beyond the school gates.

“Our Excelerate investment is working in intensive partnership with 13 secondary schools in the North-east to empower their communities’ visions for change for their young people, providing the professional learning, networks, and support to realise innovative approaches. The Business & Community Support Officers working in schools have formed hundreds of partnerships which are bringing learning to life for young people, inspiring and engaging them. This is something practitioners want for their young people, with more than 140 references made through focus groups in just two schools to empowering these opportunities as they embarked upon Excelerate.

“The Youth and Philanthropy Initiative is improving critical metaskills while giving young people an opportunity to lead their learning and contribute to the communities they live in. Active in more than 250 schools and more than 35,00 participants, more than half say they have improved their leadership and independence skills. A vital part of these investments is ensuring teachers feel supported to meet the shifting educational landscape. Our data shows that teachers feel more confident in facilitating student-led learning after being involved with YPI.

“We have one concentrated investment in primary education, focussed on STEM learning. By harnessing the curiosity of our youngest learners, RAiSE aims to ignite their confidence and motivation to contribute towards Scotland’s STEM nation of the future. Teachers tell us that pupil aspirations in relation to STEM careers have increased by more than 80% through their involvement with RAiSE.

“Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence provides the framework for innovative approaches to best prepare the young people of 2022 for a new future. We must now act collectively to put in place the opportunities, structures, support, and space to optimise this framework and allow our students to learn in a way that will benefit them for their school years and far beyond.

“Let’s be inspired, but not tied to, history on this milestone anniversary. Let’s begin a new chapter that our descendants in 150 years’ time can look back at and be inspired by. A milestone anniversary for education should be the time for a milestone change.”