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by Aileen Ponton
28 April 2022
Associated Feature: The SCQF at 21, a reflection and what’s next?

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Associated Feature: The SCQF at 21, a reflection and what’s next?

This year, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework – Scotland’s national lifelong learning framework, more commonly known as the SCQF – turns 21.

As part of his Putting Learners at the Centre report into curriculum reform, published in March 2022, Professor Ken Muir highlighted the importance of the SCQF in the wider landscape of education, training and skills across Scotland and recommended “the enhanced use of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)”.

In her response to the Muir Report, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley Anne Somerville stressed her support for the SCQF and the SCQF Partnership team, and the need for it to retain its independent and non-sectoral status, which she indicated is central to its ability to broker a holistic approach across the learner journey.

Because Scotland has one learner-centred Framework containing mainstream and non-mainstream learning, it allows comparability and parity of qualifications, which means that everyone can plan a learning journey that is right for them and meets their individual needs. The SCQF also provides the tools to measure recognition of prior learning and acknowledgement of the value of wider achievements beyond the traditional academic qualifications. Therefore, it puts learners firmly at the centre – a key theme in the Muir Report and discussions around education reform.

The SCQF Database now holds more than 11,500 qualifications including around 1,100 diverse programmes owned by a variety of different organisations, such as the NSPCC, Youthlink Scotland, Energy Saving Trust and NEBOSH. An oft-quoted statistic is that 93% of SCQF level 6 qualifications are not Highers and just this month, UCAS announced that all SCQF level 6 programmes are to be included in the UCAS Tariff Tables from May 2022 for applicants entering Higher Education in 2023. This is a great step forward in recognising the achievements of all of our young people working at SCQF level 6, not just those who undertake Highers.

Indeed, as mentioned earlier, much of our work is around helping various sectors create pathways of learning which suit different learners.

Through our SCQF School Ambassador programme, we have been working with secondary school leadership teams and senior pupils to help them understand the wide range of alternative pathways and opportunities for learners making subject choices and entering the Senior Phase. 162 schools across 31 Local Authorities are now involved in the programme and are actively promoting the SCQF as a tool for developing learner pathways, recognising and understanding qualifications and broadening their offer to young people.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a vitally important process that benefits both the Scottish economy and individual learners. Recognising the skills someone has gained through experiential learning can facilitate effective skills utilisation and career development. It supports areas of the Fair Work Framework including Opportunity and Fulfilment and helps to ensure that individuals do not have to repeat learning unnecessarily. The SCQF Partnership has long been an ambassador for RPL and offers support to employers, institutions and learners in the form of workshops, resources and hands on support.   

The SCQFP has collaborated on projects which contextualise and recognise the skills and experience of particular groups such as veterans, refugees/asylum seekers and migrants but we feel that a joined up strategy for RPL in Scotland could have a much greater impact both on the economy as a whole in these changing times and on individuals who wish to either progress in their learning, their career or change career direction.   

The Scottish Government has committed to further embedding the SCQF within Scottish education and we look forward to working them and with key stakeholders over the coming months and years, to consider how to further strengthen the impact of the Framework, not just within education but across all areas that require support for skills development and recognition.

This article is sponsored by SCQF Partnership.

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