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Congratulations to the SCQF on its 21st birthday! It seems appropriate that at this coming of age moment, all the things the SCQF Partnership has stood for over the years is centre stage in our thinking.

How do we ensure the quality of qualifications and the integrity of the system? How do we ensure an inclusive framework which is equitable and fair for all and recognises that there is no ‘one size fits all’ learner journey? How do we reform the education system to close the huge variability in outcomes for those affected by poverty?

Education is witnessing widespread reform and change across the world, as any of the recent OECD reports will confirm. There is growing demand for a genuinely person-centred and equitable system. In Scotland, it has been uncomfortable to see that Curriculum for Excellence which is fully embraced across the system has not resulted in the change originally envisaged. The pandemic we are still emerging from has in fact further exacerbated the growing inequality in educational attainment and opportunity for all.

From my perspective a fuller realisation, understanding and implementation of two of the key aims of the SCQF Partnership to “extend the recognition of informal and non-formal learning” and to “promote and develop the Framework as a tool to support lifelong learning” will lead to the kind of change we all want to see.

A greater recognition of informal and non-formal learning, to ensure young people develop the learning and skills they need both now and in the future should be at the very root of change. Youth work and community-based adult education offer so much potential to achieve this. Extending recognition and increasing the resources required to realise that potential, is vital to ensure a fair and equitable system.

Mutual recognition and a shared understanding requires a common language and a common funding framework. Through YouthLink Scotland’s Scottish Attainment Challenge programme we are working towards a common rights-based approach to education - one where the system genuinely works together to support our young learners to develop and recognise the knowledge, skills and capacities required to reach their potential. To support this process we created the National Youth Work Outcomes underpinned by the four capacities of CfE. As young people work towards these outcomes they develop skills for learning, life and work. The key skills young people develop through youth work are described in the Youth Work Skills Framework.

As promoters of the SCQF Framework we want to see more and more Youth Awards and pathways to those awards, through informal and non-formal youth work learning opportunities, created and recognised in the Framework. The future of the SCQF Partnership in providing a greater valuation of the currency that informal and non-formal learning provides is exciting. Young people have told us that their preference is some form of continuous assessment across their learning journey and a fuller recognition and valuation of those achievements by all education partners, regardless of the setting or context. This is what we should all be collaborating to accomplish.

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