Minister Mike Russell details post-16 learners plan

From Democracy Live: Education Secretary Mike Russell gives a ministerial statement on Post-16 reform

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The Scottish government's apprenticeship schemes for young people will be extended as part of bid to improve post-16 education.

The move was announced by Education Secretary Mike Russell at Holyrood.

He said technical and professional apprenticeships would be introduced later in the year to run alongside the existing modern apprenticeship scheme.

Labour's Hugh Henry said he was disappointed with Mr Russell's statement, saying it lacked detail.

He told the chamber that while he shared the minister's aspirations for learners in Scotland, he said there was absolutely "no detail about what is going to be done".

Mr Russell addressed MSPs about his plans to "make it easier for students to progress through education".

His government consulted on a programme of reform for 16-plus education, with the publication of Putting Learners at the Centre in September 2011.

Mr Russell's statement was in response to that consultation.

The proposals included;

  • advanced apprenticeship frameworks to help employers develop staff to degree level will be introduced from 1 April, 2012
  • preparing learners for work and giving them the tools they need to be productive and stay in employment
  • make it much easier for young people who are at college to progress through to university

The SNP politician also reiterated his commitment to college and university mergers.

He told MSPs: "These changes go hand in hand with our college regionalisation strategy where colleges will have a stronger strategic role in meetings the needs of learners in their region.

"In order to do so they will need to increase co-operation between institutions to provide the best learning experience and range of options for all young people once they leave school."

'Bitterly partisan'

Labour's education spokesman Mr Henry asked Mr Russell to reconsider his "decision to force through significant changes to college the structure while having to cope with large scale budget cut".

He went on to urge the minister to abandon centralised control over education and reverse cuts to career service staffing.

In his reply to Mr Henry, the minister said his proposals did contain detail and he regretted that the opposition MSP could not be more positive. He asked Mr Henry not to be "bitterly partisan" and to join the government in improving 16-plus education.

The Tories Liz Smith said she wanted clarity over Mr Russell's plans to promote and extend the use of the Scottish Baccalaureate in advanced highers.

The education secretary said he supported the baccalaureate and he was keen to see a range and depth of qualifications improve in Scottish education.

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