“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.