Digital Literacy, A New Essential Skill ; Food for Thought from Welsh Experience⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

Digital Literacy the Welsh Experience
A Think Piece
In Wales, based on recommendations from E-Skills the then Sector Skills Council and Jisc work (including a review of all the digital competencies frameworks globally) , and on advice of Graham Donaldson in his Report to the Welsh Government , a new essential skills framework has been developed to support work based and lifelong learning.
This fits with the requirement for Trail Blazers in England to consider the embedding of digital skills in the new apprenticeship frameworks.
You'll probably know the name Essential Skills in Northern Ireland, but in England you'll likely recognise them as 'Functional Skills', or 'Core Skills' in Scotland. In Scotland things have become particularly confused with Skills for Learning Life and Work being pushed in Schools , Essential Skills in Colleges,  while in apprenticeship frameworks Core Skills is still the brand that is used for the underpinning generic skill set. Though the superset in Schools and College are related to the core skills framework.

There is probably a separate blog post needed in figuring out why this drift apart has happened in Scotland and what should be done to fix this. I hope some thinking hats are going on - digital literacy is a sensible broadening of the narrower core skill of IT.
The Welsh government realised that IT alone was not going to equip learners to gain the dynamic digital skills they would need to support them in adapting with evolving digital technologies at home and in the workplace.

The decision was taken that from September 2015 digital literacy would replace IT as an essential skill along with employability skills, communication and application of number. Essential Skills is a compulsory element for anyone studying towards an apprenticeship or foundation learning programme in Wales.

Based around digital capabilities
The Welsh government has created a new framework of learner qualifications that incorporates all the key aspects of digital literacy models. It offers six themes across six levels, from Entry 1 to Level 3, including:
  • Digital responsibility
  • Digital information literacy
  • Digital productivity
  • Digital collaboration
  • Digital creativity
  • Digital learning
You can see the framework and the suggested models of learning and assessment in the context of the whole new Essential Skills Framework here
I will focus only on the Digital Literacy components here.
The components can easily be adapted to a checklist, a think list approach for Trailblazers in the development of their new standards.  
For  awarding and accreditation bodies across the UK many of whom have not yet looked at digital literacies as a core component of their skills offering this is a useful place to start thinking about how digital literacies should be embedded in learning and in the workplace to improve both the learner’s skill base and workplace productivity.
If you were a Trail Blazer or regulator thinking about digital literacy and skills this would be a good place to start.
Digital Responsibility
Be able to access a range of digital devices  
Know how to stay safe in a digital world and demonstrate how to interact safely in the digital world
Be able to access and use transaction based on-line services
Know what is meant by a digital footprint and know the protocols for you as an individual and within an organisation in its maintenance and demonstrate maintenance of a digital footprint.
Be able to work safely and securely in a range of digital environments
Be able to apply a range of protocols for digital responsibility and digital security in a wide range of digital communities and environments
Digital Information Literacy
Be able to select, identify and verify the source of digital information
Understand how to critically analyse and the review techniques to gather digital information
Be able to retrieve and use digital information to complete a task or solve a problem
Be able to evaluate and use digital information to complete complex tasks or solve complex problems.
Digital Productivity
Be able to open a file and use a range of input devices
Be able to present information in a digital format
Be able to open and respond appropriately to personal and business  messages
Be able to identify, maintain, resolve common digital issues   and use basic hardware.
Be able to organise, store, share, permission and protect digital information
Digital Collaboration
Be able to select and use appropriate digital tools to collaborate with others
Be able to plan, organise and apply effective and efficient collaborative working practices
Understand and demonstrate how collaboration can enhance personal professional and organisational practice
Digital Creativity
Be able to create, edit and enhance a digital resource including multimedia resources.
Be able to use a wide range of digital creative tools and techniques to complete a complex task.
Understand how to critically review, analyse and evaluate creative digital solutions.
Understand how a digital creative solution has the potential to develop opportunities for entrepreneurship and enterprise.
Digital Learning
Understand how digital technologies, tools and techniques enhance and extend learning opportunities.

EU Report: Youth work’s contribution to aid transition from education into employment⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

EU youth work and employabilityThe contribution of youth work to address the challenges young people are facing, in particular the transition from education to employment.

The Report presents results from the work of the expert group set up under the European Union Work Plan for Youth for 2014-2015.

The findings detail the role of youth work and its specific contribution to addressing the challenges young people face, in particular the transition from education to employment. The report seeks to make employers, Public Employment Services and policy-makers aware of the crucial role youth work can play – either as a lead agency or in partnership with others – in supporting the employment and employability of young people. In this context, youth work is defined as ‘actions directed towards young people regarding activities where they take part voluntarily, designed for supporting their personal and social development through non-formal and informal learning’.

Stòrlann: Fileanta⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

These materials are now on the Fileanta website:

  • Fo Sgàil a’ Swastika: This pupil unit has an indepth study of this novel, with teacher material*, listening text and video interview with Bill Innes (who edited the book).
  • Deich san Fhàsach: This pupil unit has an indepth study of ten stories from the book Caogad san Fhàsach, teacher material*. There are 10 stories being read in mp3 format, 6 videos with information about the stories and about the author.
  • Measaidhean Ėisteachd N3, N4 agus N5: 8 listening assessments (mp3 file, questions, answers* for each) at each of the three levels, and covering one of the following subjects: language, culture, the media and literature.

* Please Contact to obtain a password which will allow you access to teacher material/answers for each unit. We plan to keep all the teacher material on one page of our website and the password will allow you to use each resource located there


Stòrlann: Go-Gaelic –⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Go! Gaelic provides a comprehensive learning package for children doing Gaelic (Learners) as L2 or L3.  The website has a complete suite of resources, learning aids and frameworks for use by teachers who have various levels of fluency.

The materials are free and may be used in school or at home.

Ten years on from the very first unconference for educators: TeachMeet is 10⤴

from @ Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education


This Tuesday, I want you to join me in the pub. It’s your homework. There will be a test.

My old tutor from teacher training college, David Muir, giggles as he types up some gems being shared over a beer between two other men: John Johnston, a primary teacher from Glasgow, and Will Richardson, an international keynoter whose formal talk earlier in the day had left us asking what they did in New Jersey that was, actually, any different from what we did in Scotland. Bob Hill from Dundee and Andrew Brown, a local authority (or school district) geek-in-residence listen in, priming the anecdotes they’ll respond with shortly. Behind me, at a different table, are a few others, snuggled around a table listening to the gems coming from an old uni pal who’s just started teaching, Grant Fraser.

152573117_26c660774b_oIt doesn’t seem like much, but this informal gathering, arranged in fewer than 24 hours, was the first unconference for teachers, anywhere in the world. As we organised it through IRC, for lack of a Twitter quorate, and blogs, we called it the ScotEduBlogger Meetup, but that very night we decided that this might be a tad limiting, given we talked about more than just blogs. We also realised that if we wanted any women to make it along, we’d have to break free from what was, at that time, the mostly blokeish pastime of blogging.


TeachMeet was born. And it was a full four years ahead of its American cousin, EdCamp. The parents of TeachMeet were, from the start, against it becoming monied, sponsored or financially supported beyond what was necessary to make it work, commercialised in any way, or becoming too formal by requiring a board, or trustees, or organisers. The lack of politics with a small ‘p’ was refreshing for teachers who mostly inhabit a world full of it. The lack of cash? Well, we’re teachers. That’s considered normal. I don’t know what I’d do with$2m, but I doubt it’d help make TeachMeet any more popular than it is today. Over the past ten years, it’s been a challenge to maintain that attitude in the heads of everyone who’s involved, but it’s managed to remain a very different beast to its EdCamp cousin as a result. It’s a difference I love.


More than just a random bunch of teachers heading out for a midweek pint, this was planned, intentionally, to be the antidote to the Edinburgh City Technologies Conference, which had left us all a bit deflated. In our classrooms, we were doing more interesting stuff, frankly, than that talked about by the experts and commercial outfits vying for business back at the conference centre.

I remember a discussion on IRC, about whether we should even invite Will along, given he was the keynote speaker that day, and somewhat occupying the podium that we were wanting to rebuke. A few of us knew Will well enough, though, through his blog posts, and thought he’d get into the ‘real’ goodies over a pint, more readily than in front of a few hundred folk in a beige convention centre.

The evening also had an unwritten rulebook, formed through the conventions of this rather twee little pub on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile:
1. Don’t speak over someone who’s speaking;
2. Don’t hog the conversation, or someone will speak over you;
3. If you need to leave to get a pint, leave;
4. Don’t get too many laptops out: if you can tell your story without one, just do it. We’re in an Edinburgh drinkers’ pub, after all;
5. If you do need to show something, for goodness’ sake, don’t do a PowerPoint (see Point 4, above).

The most unwritten of all the ‘rules’ is maybe that of the Master of Ceremonies. In the pub setting, there’s always an MC. Sometimes they’re a total pain the neck. The loud chap in the corner, probably in a double-breasted suit, prophesying at his loudest and brashest to anyone who’ll listen, berating those who speak during his wife’s karaoke attempts, or who disagree with his political persuasion.

The more successful MC is almost invisible through their prowess. Any good pub has one. Sat, not stood, in a central position of the bar. He keeps an eye on the action, and subtly moves the pieces around like a chess master. A small utterance now and then turns potential discord between patrons into uniting harmony. His own stories normally get saved to last, until the after-hours lock-in, where a few lucky souls will get the résumé of the evening that no-one else was able to see.

From that night, we’ve written down most the rules, sighed when we’ve seen them forgotten. We’ve run some bigger TeachMeets, snagged some amazing venues, spent a lot of businesses’ cash on free beer and pizza. We’ve seen other countries adopt TeachMeet as their own, a few claim credit for starting it. We’ve seen TeachMeets sizzle when they offer something different for the teachers who come, and we’ve seen them stumble, stutter and stoater out as hosts forget how to really make those segues shine the spotlight on the teacher (and not the MC). We’ve kept the chaotic wiki where people organise, sign up and talk about their events. It’s got the look, feel and usability of your aged granny’s family anecdotes, but it’s for that reason that we keep it and love it (it is down as I try to link to it…).

This Tuesday, 10 years on to the night it all started, I’m going back to the Jolly Judge Pub in Edinburgh. I’d love you to join me if you can. In an age of Facebook Live, Twitter, Medium and Instagram, maybe you’re expecting to join in virtually. The point is, I’m going to be in an Edinburgh pub. What do you think I’m going to do?


Watch your words⤴


Those who read my blog regularly (hi, Mum) will know that I am a bit obsessed with Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. I love the combination of music, inspirational anecdotes and honesty that characterise the show. Yesterday (while driving, again) I caught up with Inga Beale, the CEO of Lloyds of London and her enthusiasm, inspirational ideas and infectious passion for life and learning. She talked about her successes, her mistakes and her commitment to understanding others and promoting diversity. Yet the part of the programme which really stuck with me was that part relating to her experience of school and how the words of one particular teacher had an influence on her. In her first year of secondary school she took a French exam and came second in her class, with 96%. Her teacher spoke of this as being unfortunate and a disappointment and suggested that Inga should have come first, given that her father was a teacher and linguist. This had the consequence of making Inga feel inadequate and angry and putting her off formal education. Whilst this, in the end, did not prevent her from going on to achieve great things and very positive outcomes, the story made me reflect once again about the theme of teacher-pupil interactions and relationships. I have written here about the power of positive relationships in education but this story reminded me again about the need for the adults who work with children to consider their interactions and the impact of them. Of course, there will be those who will say that Inge should have been less sensitive and that teachers can’t be expected to watch their every word. Others may say that for another child, this criticism and harsh approach might have acted as exactly the catalyst needed to achieve first ranking in the next test. As someone who decided at the age of fourteen to try for Cambridge, I certainly had a competitive streak as a child; there is a place for competiveness in helping some people achieve their potential. But for others, the destruction of self-confidence caused by such an approach can be life-altering.

Last year I chaired a working party to create refreshed authority guidance on supporting Highly Able Pupils. As part of this, I asked the group members to reflect on how much and how they were pushed to achieve when they were younger and whether or not competition was an important factor. We discussed Matthew Syed’s ideas in his book ‘Bounce; the Myth of Talent’ and came to the conclusion that for every child who might be encouraged by the words of Inge’s French teacher there will be a another who is turned off or, worse, made to feel inadequate.

Those of us who were parents in the group also talked about the ways in which we have encouraged our own children and discussed whether NOT being a ‘pushy’ parent is doing your child a disservice.

I admitted that I sometimes wonder whether I should be harder on my daughter over piano practice; might she be on grade 5 by now if I had been harder on her or perhaps compared her to her friends who are further ahead? Will she resent me in years to come?

In all honesty, I think not. She is very conscientious and puts herself under her own pressure when it comes to school work; she always does homework without fuss. She continues with Highland Dancing years after many girls of her age have given it up. She has told me that she plays the piano as a hobby and never wants to play professionally, so why should she put herself under undue pressure?

Surely the key here, then, is about knowing our children (whether our own or those we teach) well enough to understand whether our words are likely to motivate or undermine them.

It is not an easy task and educational structures work against us; in Scotland we STILL have a system where we pay lip service to breadth of achievement but obsess with National 5s and Highers and are introducing standardised tests that threaten to compete with SATS and send us down a route of league tables and associated teacher, parent/carer and pupil stress.

Inga is another fantastic example of someone who has achieved in spite of rejecting (or actually being rejected by) formal education.

But how many children have been damaged by a misjudged comment by a teacher and gone on to a less successful future because of it?

There are some who will read this and say that they cannot be expected to cater for or pander to ‘over-sensitive’ children. I would argue that that this is exactly what they need to do; to work to understand sensitive children and meet their needs. To modify their words and behaviour so that they are inclusive and recognise diversity.

We are all human and make mistakes. But we can work round this and apologise if we get it wrong. Might things have been different for Inga if her teacher had been able to say “Sorry, what a daft thing for me to say! You should be hugely proud of 96%”?

One size fits all is easy and convenient. But ease and convenience are not what we should be about if we undertake the very important task of shaping the lives and futures of children and young people.

To quote the greatest of teachers:

“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

– Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Dear John⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

Dear John

I would like to congratulate you on your new appointment and welcome you to the lead role for Scottish education. I am sure you recognise the importance of your role and the complexity of the issues and challenges you, and we the profession, face as we move forward together. I am also sure like us you relish the challenges ahead and are determined to do all that you can to help us deliver what we all desire.

If you don't know already, I will tell you at the outset that everyone in Scottish education shares your, and the First Minister's, ultimate aims for the performance of education. You will not find a headteacher, or teacher in Scotland that does not want the same as you. We all are committed to giving our learners the very best and holistic educational experience we can. We want them to be high attainers and achievers, we want them to be healthy (physically and emotionally) and we want this for all of our learners, not just some. So, we also want to work with yourself,  the government, our universities and other agencies to help close attainment gaps that exist, especially for those at risk of missing out from our most deprived families and communities. In short, we want a world class education system and an equitable society that we can all be proud of.

We recognise our responsibilities as the professionals in the system, and we have a range of experience, knowledge, insights and understandings that we wish to share with you and with each other. We know that if we are to achieve our common aims we will need to collaborate, as we look both inwards and outwards. Every school leader I know understands that we can do better, and that to achieve this we need to collaborate and to look to what research, and practice, shows us works, in order to improve. We want to improve, not because we are not good already, but because we understand that we can all still get better, and that we owe this to all our learners. None of us can achieve the high aims we all have for Scottish education on our own or by top-down dictat. We understand, as I'm sure you do, that we have to examine what really works (and equally what doesn't) across other systems and take what we can from these, then apply this to our unique Scottish context. Not easy, but I am sure we are all up for it. To get where we want to be requires the active particiaption of all of us, not just some of us. Not only do we need to work together, we need to talk to and listen to each other. 

I am sure you will have strong opinions of what needs to be done, as do we. We are all in the roles we have because we are committed to making a difference. None of us is privy to a single strategy that will work to address all the issues and challenges we face. There are no panaceas or silver bullets to system growth and development. What I am sure you and we recognise is that we all need a relentless determination to tackle the issues and to keep developing and improving. Not all are in the same place, so what we will require are polices and structures that recognise this, but which support all to aim high and enable us to achieve those aims over time.

I am equally sure that your in-tray and emails are full already of tasks waiting for your consideration and we wish you well with all of these. Prioritisation of tasks is a key skill for all leaders. Believe me, we do understand the pressures of heavy workloads and competing demands for your attention. Like new school leaders, I am sure it is similar for yourself, in that you will need to spend some time getting to thoroughly understand your brief and your role, and it is important that you take this time to understand, before you make decisions about the way forward. In schools, everything we do is dependent on having a culture and ethos that supports what we want to achieve, because we know it's down to people to deliver, not policy. Policy can support this, or hinder. I expect you will work hard over the next few months to set out your vision and build the relationships and partnerships you will need to achieve your aims.

Please don't be put off or influenced all the media stories about the reception that awaits you from the profession. We have always been fair and will give anyone a chance who wants to work with us to improve what we do. We really do want to work with you to achieve the best for our learners. Yes we have concerns, particularly over standardised testing and the drift towards acadamisation that some see, and we would like to talk to you about these in the coming months. But, we wish to do this in a positive and professional way, and we are sure you will bring the same attitude to your meetings with us. As you listen and talk to us, so will we with yourself. I am sure you recognise we have some fabulous people working in the Scottish education system and that we need to engage with and utilise these to achieve all that we wish. We genuinely wish to develop a self-improving system with adaptive expertise spread within it, and across all levels.

We wish you well in your new role. I hope you trust that we want the very best for all our learners, and trust us to always do the right thing for them. This may lead us to disagreements at times but we all share the same desire to get better. Should we achieve this, we will have a more equitable society and, once again, a leading education system that others can learn from and look to emulate.

Good luck, and perhaps we can check in again in a few months to see how things are going.

Yours sincerely