Holyrood’s Education Festival

Education Option 2 WP

Following on from the OECD report, the Cabinet Secretary has promised the most diverse and inclusive ‘national discussion’ ever held on the future of Scottish Education. 

This discussion is needed to ensure a renewed focus on the reform’s overriding objective, which is to put the learner at the centre.

That means the Scottish Government’s well-publicised proposals to replace the qualifications and reform Education Scotland can only be the start of a journey of wider evolution.

From reforming Curriculum for Excellence to forging an education-led recovery and “an innovation nation”, join Holyrood for this timely 2-day education policy festival to learn about the Scottish education and skills system, discuss what needs to change, and what this may mean for the future.

Day 1 – Early Years, CfE and Education Workforce

Day 2 – Post-16 Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning

By attending this event, you will:

  • Discuss fundamental questions and cover the big issues which this reform should address
  • Enhance partnership opportunities through time and space provided for peer-to-peer and truly cross-sectoral networking and discussion
  • Learn about how the UNCRC matters to you and your role
  • Hear from mainstream politicians and renowned educationalists, and other experts in Scotland about what is next for Scotland’s education and skills system
  • Learn about the value that sectors across the sweep of the education system, from ELC to colleges and universities, bring and how you collaborate more effectively for better results

Catch up on some of our previous #HolyroodEducation events here.

*Prices are ex VAT

*Early bird discount cannot be used in conjunction with group discount

Saj Sharif
Zen Consultants
Shona Struthers
Colleges Scotland
Gordon McGuinness
Skills Development Scotland
Duncan Gardner
Balfour Beatty
Pam Gosal MSP
Scottish Conservatives
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Robin McGregor
North East Scotland College
Prof. Ali Watson
Third Generation Project | University of St Andrews
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Mike Corbett
Dr Paul Little
City of Glasgow College
Prof. Peter Edwards
University of Aberdeen
Dr Simon Hoult
Queen Margaret University
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Jim Goodall
Reform Scotland
Alan Ferns
University of Manchester
Emma Seith
Magaidh Wentworth
Comann nam Pàrant Nàiseanta
Jim Whannel
Bord na Gaidhlig
Toni Giugliano
National Union of Students
Cameron Wyllie
Cameron Wyllie
George Heriot's School, Edinburgh
Prof. Dame Sally Mapstone
Universities Scotland | University of St Andrews
Amy Woodhouse
Amy Woodhouse
Children in Scotland
Prof. Aileen Kennedy
University of Strathclyde
Sue Webber
Sue Webber MSP
The Scottish Parliament
Prof. Graham Donaldson
Prof. Graham Donaldson
Education Reform: Expert Panel & International Council of Education Advisers
Philip Whyte
IPPR Scotland
Tam Baillie
Tam Baillie
Former Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland
James McEnaney Headshot
James McEnaney
Sue Palmer Headshot
Sue Palmer
Upstart Scotland
Arlene Forster Headshot
Arlene Forster
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Republic of Ireland
Clare Haughey MSP Headshot
Clare Haughey
Scottish Parliament
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Grahame Smith
Careers Review Programme Board
Martin Whitfield MSP
The Scottish Parliament
James Russell
Skills Development Scotland
Jamie Cooke
Michael Marra MSP
Scottish Labour

In her opening keynote, the Minister for Children and Young People will outline the importance that the Scottish Government places on early years education. The Minister will highlight its importance in supporting each individual child’s development and the learner’s journey through Scotland’s education system. 

Achieving a Triple Win Through the Promotion of Play

The First Minister said she aspired for Scotland to be the best place for a child to grow up in the world.

Many who work with children and young people believe that a relationship-centred, play-based early childhood education - between the ages of 3 and 7 - is key to this. 

The approach elevates the importance of children’s all-round development (physical, emotional, social and cognitive) which evidence suggests fosters greater educational success, contributes to long-term health and wellbeing and generates a happier, healthier society. 

As the national discussion on the future of education unfolds, this session will make the case for this approach to early years education, outline thought leadership and provide examples of best practice. 

“All efforts, whether concerned with educational recovery post-pandemic or in terms of the future vision for Scottish education, must be directed to the purposes described in Article 29 of the UNCRC.” - Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education (2022), Report by Professor Kenneth Muir, University of the West of Scotland and Independent Advisor to the Scottish Government on Education Reform.

In this session, we will facilitate a cross-sectoral discussion to illuminate new ways of thinking to ensure that the UNCRC is present in the actions of all leaders and practitioners working in Scottish education.   

The chair will arrange delegates into groups to discuss and outline the UNCRC. They will discuss this, as enshrined in Scots Law and embedded in our education system, as something that is genuinely life-enhancing for young people Scotland. As per the quote from the report above, it should therefore be ultimately more than just a piece of paper. 

12:15-12:30 Edu-Tech and the Future of Education

The way education is both delivered and received is changing. How young people are learning should interact with what they are learning and vice-versa. What is the role of schools and teaching professionals in this changing technological landscape? 

In this session, we will discuss some of the technology at the heart of that change and explore some implications for the current course of reform in Scottish education. 

12:30-12:45 Climatising the Curriculum

The Scottish Government aspires for Scotland to be a ‘good global citizen. If this vision is to be realised, we must teach our young people about the causes of the climate-nature crises and the effects of the crises on both people and planet. 

In this ‘Lightning Talk’, Professor Ali Watson tells us about the importance of embedding global climate justice in our schools, as we transition towards net zero and the restoration of nature. 

13:35 | Overview of the Muir Report

13:50 | Qualifications, Assessment and Aligning Senior Phase to BGE 

Arguably, the central finding of the OECD report was the misalignment between the 21st century curriculum and the 19th century system of qualifications and assessment in Scotland.   

In this session, we will have an overview of the Muir Report, which has informed the Scottish Government’s proposed reforms to Scottish education. We will then move to a panel discussion on qualifications and assessment in Scotland including the role of knowledge, the differentiation with skills and what value we place on these two through what and how we assess learners. 

Gaelic belongs to everyone. It already enriches the daily lives of the people of Scotland and beyond.  It creates benefits, both social and economic, and increases wellbeing for Gaelic users, learners and supporters, across Scotland and internationally.   

The Draft National Plan for Gaelic 2023-28 has two main themes: Learning Gaelic and Using Gaelic.   

Given Gaelic’s unique position as one of the national languages of Scotland, we have a special responsibility to value it within our education system. 

In this session, we will discuss how we can continue to support and intensify the growth of Gaelic throughout the education system. We will look at how we can integrate the language as a quintessential part of Scottish life and look at how partnership working will address some of the challenges and build on some of the opportunities. 

Teachers were envisioned to be co-designers in the curriculum when Curriculum for Excellence was first established. However, teachers in Scotland are some of the most overworked in the OECD, with very little time, training or support to engage with this function. The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce teacher contact time by 90-minutes per week, but scepticism remains as to whether this will be delivered. 

This session will discuss how we develop the teaching workforce to ensure they have greater autonomy and are able to make the most of that to engage in peer-to-peer learning and curriculum co-design. 

Scotland has more world-class universities per capita than any other country in the world.  They are, of course, valuable for the merits of the quality of research produced for the nation and the individuals who benefit from that but they can be so much more. 

The University of Aberdeen is a member of the Civic University Network and has pledged to develop a Civic University Agreement rooted wholly in the place principle.  The Agreement will enshrine the university’s role as an ‘anchor’ institution and be based on the four pillars of how it can engage with: 

our economy 

our environment 

our culture 

our communities 

In this session, we will discuss the wider, civic purpose of universities in Scotland and how they can be elevated to engage with other spheres of our society locally, nationally and globally to the benefit of our society.  

When colleges thrive, so does the wider economy and so does Scotland. 

In a time of economic uncertainty and widening skills gaps - due to the transition towards both net zero and automation - colleges have much to offer. They act as anchor institutions in our communities, drive regional regeneration and are central to fostering a skills-led recovery. 

In this session, we will discuss how we unlock the untapped potential of our colleges to have a positive and strong impact on our lives, environment, economy and communities. 

In this session, we will discuss what contributions apprenticeships have in the current market of positive destinations for people after their full-time education. We will also consider what the next steps for them are in helping us to attain economic growth and also adapt to a changing economy. 

Our economy has faced several challenges in recent years and responded to a number of changes - from Brexit and the pandemic to the shift towards digital and green growth. This has exacerbated existing skills gaps and created new ones.

In this session, we will discuss how to address these strategic but solvable challenges in order to future-proof our people and economy and embed resilience. 

From £156
Reduced Rate


With annual income of less than £1m

1 Day Early Bird £156 | Full Price £195

2 Day Early Bird £272 | Full Price £340

Includes on demand access

From £196
Standard Rate

Public sector/voluntary/charitable

With annual income over £1m

1 Day Early Bird £196 | Full Price £245

2 Day Early Bird £352 | Full Price £440

Includes on demand access

From £295
Private Sector

Commercial e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP

1 Day Early Bird £236 | Full Price £295

2 Day Early Bird £432 | Full Price £540

Includes on demand access

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