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Education insights: New skills for adults, Scotland cancel exams and free laptops

With the festivities ahead, we can reflect on what a busy year it has been for the education sector. While some of us might be able to enjoy some respite over the next few weeks, the education sector continues to do its best to plan for 2021 with announcements of both exam cancellations and free courses for adults. Here’s the key highlights from the past week.

Adults to gain new skills in 400 free courses

Almost 400 free courses will be available to tens of thousands of adults next year, in the first major development in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by the Prime Minister in September. Ranging from healthcare, conservation to engineering, the fully-funded courses will be accessible to adults without a full qualification, at an A-level standard, from April 2021 to help them gain in-demand skills and open up further job opportunities. At Hopscotch, we champion all opportunities to facilitate life-long learning and accessibility to education at any age so we’ll be looking out for how this progresses,

Free laptops scheme is a 'great success story'

Schools’ Minister, Nick Gibb, comments that the government’s free laptops scheme has been a ‘great success story for this country’. The Department for Education scheme, which provides the free devices for children at home during the pandemic, faced criticism following a shaky start in April but we’re pleased to hear it seems to have been well received.

Scotland cancels all exams next year

Amid the unrelenting disruption caused by the pandemic, Scotland has made the difficult decision to cancel all exams for next year. This subsequently follows the previous decision to cancel National 5 exams and delay others. The Scottish education secretary has commented that both Highers and Advanced Highers won’t go ahead as planned eithers. The controversial decision has been made due to concern of the unequal level of disruption that learners have experienced, with most disadvantaged students in mind. We hope the decision will have a positive effect on transcending the attainment gap for learners.

Race in education: fears UK schools being silenced from discussing racism

The government’s pronouncements against teaching key concepts of racism ‘as fact’ - risks stifling all discussion surrounding racism in UK classrooms. It’s disappointing to learn that teaching these concepts could be treated as controversial. Penny Rabiger, a co-founder of BAMEd, a network representing black and minority ethnic school staff, says the government’s direction could be damaging as education is one of the most effective tools to tackle racism.

Student mental health: 'I am living in a bubble of one'

More than half of students claim that their mental health has declined since the pandemic began, finds a survey for the National Union of Students (NUS). It must certainly be difficult for students this year to advance with their studies without the support of a typical social life on campus. Many of the students surveyed say they have suffered stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression. We hope that students are better able to find and access support next year.

About the author

Craig Ritchie

Craig has a passion for empowering young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and delivering campaigns with a social impact. He has a background in client-servicing and holds specialist knowledge of the STEM and Careers pathways. At Hopscotch, Craig works across Health Education England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and DP World.

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