Languages and STEM skills, opening doors!

SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, is working with businesses and schools in Scotland to promote languages as a key skill for employment.

Operating effectively in a global economy relies on many skills and includes the right language skills. People who can communicate, at least conversationally, can make all the difference in the conduct of business, consolidating relationships with existing suppliers and customers and opening the way to new overseas contacts. When combined with STEM skills, the career opportunities in a vast array of sectors widens.

Key facts from the CBI Education and Skills Survey 2013

Seven out of ten (70%) businesses value foreign language skills among their employees

  • French(49%) and German(45%) are the leading languages in demand, but those geared to businesses in China feature increasingly prominently – of those valuing staff with foreign language skills, 28% value Manderin and 16% Cantonese
  • STEM skills are in high demand and nearly two in five firms (39%) are having difficulties recruiting staff. 41% expect this to persist over the next three years
  • Shortages of STEM qualified technicians (29%) and graduates (26%) are widespread among firms in engineering, hi-tech/IT and science areas
  • Businesses recognise that they have a key role in encouraging more young people to study STEM subjects, enthusing young people about STEM (55%) and working with Universities to ensure the business relevance of the course (50%).

Read about people who have combined their STEM and language skills in the pharmaceutical industry, technologies and the Scottish Football Association and find out why they consider that learning a language is really important.

New Inclusion Resource from the John Muir Trust

Inclusion, wild places and the John Muir Award

This resource is a showcase of inclusion-related John Muir Award activity. This includes examples of the Inclusion organisations

(including schools and colleges) that use the Award and why they do. It also features short case studies from different sectors, and how the John Muir Award contributes to inclusion national policy. Click here to access a copy of the resource.

The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages people from all backgrounds to enjoy, connect with, and care for the natural environment. The John Muir Award is suitable from an upper primary level.

The Curriculum for Excellence and the John Muir Award resource helps people find out more about the John Muir Award and how it can meet a range of educational needs, recognise achievement, deliver Experiences and Outcomes through themes across learning. Access this resource here.

Ramblers Scotland – Get Outdoors weekend

Get active, get outdoors, have fun! 9th – 10th August 2014

Want to feel healthier and fitter this summer?

Ramblers Scotland are inviting you to put on your walking boots, get the bike out of the garage, dust off the dinghy and plan a weekend outdoors in Scotland with the family, on your own or with friends on 9 and 10 August.

Make a pledge to get active!

Whether you’re already regularly active or just getting started, Ramblers Scotland want you to create an adventure for the weekend and share it. They want to hear what walks, bike rides, runs, climbs, events you’re planning and want you to send in films or photos of you out there, having fun, being active and enjoying Scotland’s outdoors to the full.

The major sporting events this summer will culminate with the Commonwealth Games, bringing a feast of international sporting excellence to Scotland. However, all this sport won’t necessarily make much of an impact on how fit most of us are. So why not join in, take the pledge and have some fun? You’ll have nothing to lose, and plenty to win!

For more information click here.

Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland

Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland (formerly Forest Education Initiative) are holding 2 national networking events this year to launch their new organisation.

These will be held at Benmore Botanic Gardens, Dunoon on 19/20th September and at Falkland Centre for Stewardship on 3/4th October.

These events include a wide range of hands on workshops, presentations and networking opportunities.

For further information and to book a place at one of these events click here.

Education Scotland Science Conversation Days Summary

Following the publication of the updated Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report, Education Scotland hosted a series of conversation days to engage stakeholders in discussions around the findings of the report and to collectively identify priorities for action to secure improvements in science education nationally.

The first of four conversations took place in December 2012 in Denholm House, Livingstone, followed by a further two during June 2013 at Bishopbriggs Academy and Millburn Academy, with the final conversation taking place in Bucksburn Academy on 12th December 2013.

Education Scotland collated the responses from each event and produced blogs for our CfE Learning and Stem Central in Motion sites to disseminate the findings across Scotland and provide opportunity for those who were unable to attend to give their views.

We have now collated the responses from all four conversation days and produced a summary document, which highlights the key themes to emerge and details the views and suggestions of the delegates in attendance.

To download a copy : Education Scotland Science Conversation Days, Summary 

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.

Education Scotland Higher Computing Science Conference

Higher Computing Science  – Conference Report

Background information

Education Scotland held a conference on Thursday 29 May 2014 as part of the ongoing support of the new national qualifications.  The need for this national event became clear following a series of meetings early in 2014 between the Technologies team at Education Scotland and the following local authorities:

  • North Lanarkshire
  • East Ayrshire
  • West Dunbartonshire
  • South Lanarkshire

Discussion with the local authority representatives focused mainly on the implications of moving from 2 Higher Grade courses in this area of the curriculum to one new higher.  The opportunity to up-date the content was quite rightly taken.  However this has resulted in a significant amount of new content which has resulted in practitioners being uneasy about their ability to deliver the subject content for this new qualification.  In order to evaluate the scale of the difficulties Education Scotland established a Short Life Working group for Computing Science to discuss the best ways to address the issues that were being highlighted.  This resulted in two main areas of activity

  • ‘crowd sourcing’ of support materials
  • organising and planning a national conference.

 The main aims of the conference were to

  • Examine a range of appropriate approaches to learning and teaching
  • Exemplify a significant amount of new course content
  • Continue to build a successful learning community for computing science
  • Examine other areas for development to be addressed over the next academic year

 Conference organisation and delivery

The programme for the event was a mix of keynote presentations and workshop sessions.  Gerry Docherty set the scene for the conference.  He is currently Chief Executive of Smarter Grid Solutions a fast-growing company, with operational bases in Glasgow, London and New York.  He leads on the implementation of the ICT and Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan.  This plan makes explicit the need for developing skills in this key area of the Scottish economy.   It also makes clear connections to the industry working much more closely with the education sector.  From an education perspective, Education Scotland see this report as being a powerful driver behind the support we are going to be giving this area of the curriculum over the next year or two.  Gerry did a tremendous job setting the scene for the conference and many of the issues he raised in the morning were discussed again in the closing plenary. 

Peter Donaldson set the scene for the afternoon sessions by outlining the aims and objective of PLAN C (Professional Learning and Networking for Computing).  He explained that the Core PLAN C team are connected to 50 lead teachers who are then connected to a further 10-25 teachers in their local area with industry, HE and FE encouraged to link in taking a more strategic approach to supporting work in this area of the curriculum.

The workshops were delivered by 9 practitioners identified by the Computing Science Working Group and delegates were able to attend 3 workshops over the course of the day.  It was planned that each of these workshops would focus on learning and teaching as well as new course content.


The evaluations and conversations with various stakeholders during and after the event indicate these aims were met.  The table below indicates how successful the event was with respect to the evaluation forms returned at the end of the event.  This is based on 66 returned evaluations.  In total there were 125 delegates in attendance and 30 out of 32 local authorities had representatives and there was representatives from the private sector and from colleges.

The key statistics from the table above are

  • 92% of delegates agreed that ‘meeting and exchanging ideas with colleagues was valuable’.
  • 94% of delegates agreed that ‘the workshops sessions and discussions were helpful’
  • 89% of delegates agreed that ‘the suggested approaches to learning and teaching were appropriate’
  • 67% of delegates agreed that ‘a significant amount of new content was exemplified’


The figure of 67% in the final statistic is probably explained by the fact that the delegates were approaching the new content from a slightly different teaching background.  These being either a Computing Science or Information Systems background.  It is also an indication that much more needs to be done to support teachers in this area.  One of the comments from the delegates also helped explain this

‘Still need more detail.  Some subjects were over-subscribed, more access to these would be helpful.’

Further comments from delegates were very helpful and they focused on the following key areas.

Ongoing Support

The delegates recognise that this is just the start

‘More events like this to show ideas and methods.  Better continued support.  Direct guidelines to local councils as to how staff should be supported – reinforce the importance of computing science.’

‘We are still unclear about the depth of coverage and are simply guessing.  Fortunately we have a year to get the handle on this so hopefully more information will come out from SQA and yourselves.’

‘More meetings where we can gather, talk face to face and get away from being lots of ‘wee islands’ – the sessions were excellent and I am away feeling muchh more confident about the higher. Anything for ISDD would be great.’

Professional Learning Community

While computing teachers have an excellent ‘professional learning community’ through CompEdNet there is still more that we can do.

‘Local ES events welcome.  How can we develop a shared agenda?’

‘More of the same please. Always good discussions + inspiration.’

The role of key organisations

In the context of on-going work across education and the ICT sector this comment is pertinent

‘Very interesting and useful event.  Great speech by Gerry Docherty’.

Education Scotland and SQA are still expected to do more in this area too.

‘SQA arrangements still require more guidance on depth of treatment required.’

‘More detail on the support team at Education Scotland.  Who’s our contact? Who does what?’


Education Scotland would like to thank the Computing Science Working Group for their support in making this conference a great success.  The conference would not have been possible without their knowledge and understanding of the computing science context in local authorities and in schools.  Workshop presenters did a superb job and the level of ‘interactivity’ in the sessions was impressive. 

The following comment is one that we should finish on

‘Absolutely fantastic, we need more of these to get up to speed.’ 

It may be worth considering following this conference up in May 2015 to cover other aspects of the new higher but also have a focus on the new ‘Advanced Higher’.

Next steps

The following suggestions have been made as to how we build on the success of the conference

–          Work with the CompedNet practitioner network to identify the features within Glow that will support what they are doing through their professional on-line community.  This will focus on the added value Glow brings that is different from what’s on offer already through CompEdNet e.g. Glow TV, Glow Meets etc

–          Create user stories (identifying practice that’s worthy of sharing)

–          Monthly Computer Science update (publication, 2 sides A4)

–          Host a series of regional events to roll out the information from the conference

–          Host an online national conferences.

Education Scotland is aware that more support is required for computing science and this will continue over the next academic year.

First Lego League World Class Challenge – August 26th 2014

FIRST LEGO League is a robotics program for 9 to16 year olds designed to get young learners interested in and enthsed by science and technology — and teach them valuable employment and life skills.

It can be used in the classroom or teams, composed of up to ten children with at least one adult coach, can come from a club or organisation who just want to participate in a challenge.

In First Lego League  learners need to think like scientists and engineers  as they programme a robot (using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot set) to score points, devising a solution to a problem as part of their project, all while being guided by the FLL Core Values.

These three elements – the Robot Game, Project, and FLL Core Values – make up the Challenge.

Registration will open soon for the 2014 First Lego League World Class Challenge, What is the future of learning? exploring how we gather knowledge and develop skills in the 21st Century.

For more information:

Workforce Review – Practitioner Consultation

Professor Iram Siraj has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to chair a review on the Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of school Care Workforce from March 2014 to April 2015.

The second call for evidence in relation to the review has now been launched by Professor Iram Siraj.

This call for evidence consists of the completion of separate questions by practitioners and individuals working within early learning and childcare and out of school care sectors. Individuals working within both sectors will have the opportunity to complete both sets of questions.

The original deadline for the first call for evidence, which was specifically aimed at organisations has also been extended. This is in recognition that there may be organisations who have not yet had time to respond. The date for both responses is now the 30th September 2014.

This is an excellent opportunity for individuals and organisations to contribute to the review of Scotland’s Workforce.

Become an inspection volunteer today

Passionate about good care?

The Care Inspectorate is looking for people to help them carry out their work. They would like people with first-hand experience of care to help make sure care in Scotland continues to improve, by becoming an inspection volunteer. Inspection volunteers are members of the public who use a care service, have used a care service in the past or care for someone like a family member or friend who has used a care service.

Volunteers help the Care Inspectorate get the views of people using care services.  They work closely with the Care Inspectorate’s teams of specialist inspectors and together they help spot where things need to improve, help keep people safe and ensure that the rights of people receiving care are respected and their needs met.


To find out more please click the link below

Successful launch for UK space missions

On 8th July, a Soyuz rocket successfully launched two UK built cubesats: UKube-1 and TechDemoSat-1.

Cubesats are small satellites – normally about the size of a fridge – packed with scientific instruments.

UKube-1 is the UK Space Agency’s first cubesat mission. It is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia. The instruments on board include the first GPS device aimed at measuring plasmaspheric space weather; a camera that will take images of the Earth and test the effect of radiation on space hardware; an experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of using cosmic radiation to improve the security of communications satellites and flight test lower cost electronic systems; and FUNcube 2 – an educational project designed to engage and inspire school pupils.

The FUNcube payload consists of a tiny radio transmitter for science education and a materials science experiment from which school students can receive data which can be compared to results obtained from similar reference experiments in the classroom.

TechDemoSat (TDS-1) will carry no less than eight payloads plus a mixture of heritage and new product development systems from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. This satellite includes a cosmic ray detector built by students at Simon Langton Grammar School, in Kent. LUCID, The Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector, was developed by the students at the school after a trip to CERN. The LUCID experiment is part of a wider project called CERN@school, a programme that aims to bring the excitement of CERN into the classroom, and encourage the future generation of scientists

Higgs Prize winners visit CERN

The Higgs Prize is awarded on merit to two pupils from a publicly-funded school who have shown outstanding performance in the Advanced Higher Physics exam.

Established in recognition of the impact Nobel Physics Prize winner Professor Higgs’ theoretical work has had on modern day particle physics, it aims to reward and inspire Scotland’s best young school physicists.

The first ever winners of the award were announced last December and have just returned from their prize winning visit to CERN.

Lucy Willets-White, who is now studying Physics at Imperial College, London and Peter Rhodes, who is about to begin his medical studies also at Imperial College joined undergraduates on the CERN Summer Student Programme.

The prize winners’ views can be read in Issue 46 of the CERN newsletter
Further information regarding next year’s Higgs Prize will follow shortly.

National Play Strategy: Review of Inclusive Play in Scotland

A Review of Inclusive Play in Scotland was identified as a high priority within the National Play Strategy Action Plan (2013), recognising that all children in Scotland have the right to play. The Plan particularly mentions the play rights of disabled children and young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Please take part in this important review by completing our SURVEY and encourage others – adults, children and young people – to do so.

We hope to find out about:

  • the existing barriers to inclusive play in Scotland
  • the aspirations about inclusive play
  • approaches, tools, practice and strategies that work well in ensuring play experiences and opportunities are inclusive

The adults survey can be found at

The survey for children and young people can be found at

Closing date for SURVEY Wednesday 27th August 2014

In this review we will gather information in four ways: using existing information, an online survey, interviews and conversations, and three consultation events.

We hope that you can become involved and share your experiences, information and views.

You can contact us at

Theresa Casey


Anne-Marie Mackin

The Royal Institute – fun, easy ways to do exciting science at home


ExpeRimental is a new series of free short films that make it fun, easy and cheap to do science at home with children aged four to ten. Ignite a child’s natural curiosity and explore, question and test some of the fundamentals of science with a variety of  hands-on exciting activities!

ExpeRimental Bringing Science Home

ASPIRES awarded further funding by the ESRC

The ASPIRES study, tracked the development of young people’s science and career
aspirations from age 10-14.
The first ASPIRES Project has now ended but the ESRC has awarded further funding to continue their research for the next five years.
ASPIRES 2 will continue this tracking over the crucial next five years of the young people’s lives, to understand the changing influences of the family, school, careers education and social identities and inequalities on young people’s science and career aspirations and, crucially, relate these to their actual subject choices and attainment in national examinations and their post-16 choices. This tracking of young people’s aspirations and educational outcomes comprises the crucial ‘final link’ in the longitudinal project,
and will have strong bearing on educational policy and practice.

ASPIRES 2 aims to investigate:
1. How are student educational and occupational aspirations formed, and how do they change, over time?
2. How are subject choices and (GCSE) attainment related to aspirations, and how are these patterned over time?
3. How are aspirations shaped by families and schools (including experiences of school science and careers education)?
4. How are aspirations shaped by gender, class and ethnic identities?
5. How can findings be translated for stakeholder audiences, specifically for policy-makers/ intermediaries, teachers, students and parents/families

The final report of the ASPIRES Project is available online

Dams to Darnley Environmental Education Pack

Young learners from Crookfur Primary School, East Renfrewshire and Cleeves Primary, Glasgow, have helped launch the new Dams to Darnley Environmental Education Pack.

The pack, which has been written by Countryside Ranger Eilidh Milne, is structured around Curriculum for Excellence and provides lesson plans and ideas for countryside ranger-led activities in Dams to Darnley and school grounds. It also includes lesson plans for outdoor learning activities for teachers, either within the country park, school grounds or local green space.

The pack can be downloaded at  and there will be a limited number of additional printed copies available on request.

Dams to Darnley Country Park is a partnership project between East Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council.

Family Learning in West Dunbartonshire: A Local Authority Case Study

West Dunbartonshire families are seeing improvements in the health and wellbeing of children and young people, and parents and carers, and their attitudes towards education as a result of learning together as a family, a recent project has shown.

The initiative by Education Scotland in partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council looked at learning opportunities that families can access in their local area, and found that learning together helped strengthen family dynamics and supported a learning culture within the family giving them a greater sense of wellbeing.

A report on the project, now published on the Education Scotland website, found that families accessing support through a number of family learning programmes in the area were better equipped at recognising and managing their child’s behaviour, as well as being more engaged in their child’s and their own learning and development.

Read press release: West Dunbartonshire families feel the benefits from learning together.

Read report: Family Learning in West Dunbartonshire: A Local Authority Case Study

July at the Royal Institute

The Royal Institute is holding a series of events and workshops for all ages throughout July.

Take a trip to Antartica

Chris Turney will present the initial findings of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014, and explore what’s happened since the trip to Antarctica this winter.

The Physics of Winning

Journey through the history of sporting inventions and ask ‘at what point is having better equipment cheating?’

The Domesticated Brain

Explore the neuroscience of our social behaviour and learn how our brains are adapted to living in close quarters.

For further information

Digi Dan- Internet Safety for 9-12 yrs

As part of their Stay Safe Online programme Police Scotland have developed a website for youngsters based around the character of Digi Dan, an internet explorer.

On the site you can see Digi Dan’s top tips, download his ibook, find other people who can help you stay safe online and take Digi Dan’s quiz to win some great prizes.

Find out more on the Digi Dan website.

Stay Safe Online

Police Scotland’s ‘Stay Safe Online’ campaign is now targeting teens with vital advice on how to be web savvy and avoid the dangers of cyber-bullying and sexting.

‘Selfies’ are big news at the moment with many famous people taking them and posting them online including at big events. But do you know just how far to go and what the consequences can be if your photograph was posted maliciously online?

That’s just one of the aspects of the campaign which also features a hard-hitting Police Scotland commissioned video produced by the Leith Agency starring pupils aged 13-16 from Clyde Valley High School, Wishaw and Ross High School, Tranent, East Lothian who recount their personal online experiences.

The nationwide Stay Safe Online campaign aims to help children, parents, teachers and carers improve their knowledge and understanding of how to keep children safe while they are online.

To see how teenagers react to their private posts being made public look at this YouTube video.

Graeme Logan joins Young Academy Scotland

Congratulations to Graeme Logan, School Years Strategic Director, who has been appointed as a new member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS).

Graeme joins a growing membership of over 150 academics representing a range of sciences and other varied fields, in addition to professionals, civil servants, entrepreneurs and social innovators, helping YAS to address some of the most challenging issues facing society in Scotland.

Graeme’s appointment follows a rigorous application and selection process from which new members are chosen who have demonstrated drive, enthusiasm and commitment for contributing to the public good.

YAS, established by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011, is the first Young Academy in the United Kingdom and brings together the brightest minds and leading talents from across academia, business, third sector and public life.

It facilitates interdisciplinary activities and working groups to help its members develop a coherent and influential voice affecting policy and practice across all areas to benefit society.

To find out more about the latest group of YAS members, you can read the full press release here:

Some of the new Young Academy Scotland members