The Learning Hubs Programme

The Learning Hubs programme will:
  • Instigate pedagogic change and bring Scotland’s education system into the digital era.
  • Create a new generation of school leaver with the 21st Century skills that will benefit our economy
  • Encourage social inclusion and close the digital divide by making technology and connectivity available to all
  • Assist intervention of the pre-NEET category, a key Government focus
  • Ensure the successful delivery and investment of two current Scottish Executive educational initiatives.

The Learning Hubs programme in combination with A Curriculum for Excellence and Glow is going to produce the biggest change to education of our time. It will alter:
  • The way our children are taught
  • The way they learn
  • The way we grade them.

Combined they will produce a new breed of dynamic school leaver that will possess the 21st Century skills required for success in today’s rapidly changing global economy.

The Scottish Executive has already invested the necessary funding to sustain A Curriculum for Excellence and Glow. This has consumed and over-stretched existing educational budgets, leaving very limited resources to complete the missing link and instigate the Learning Hubs programme.

The City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian and East Lothian Councils (with some assistance from Scottish Executive and Learning and Teaching Scotland) have joined forces to instigate the Learning Hubs programme by conducting several pilot projects commencing August 2007 or January 2008.



What is The Learning Hubs Programme?

The Learning Hubs programme (originally known as “Laptops-For All”) is a programme driven by education and not by technology, which seeks to involve 58,000 pupils and 5,000 teachers across four councils.

The aim of the project is to improve educational attainment, engagement and pedagogic performance by providing every teacher and school child (primary 6 and above) with internet connectivity and a personal learning device or "learning hub" such as a laptop computer, PDA or Tablet.

Many similar projects around the world have already proven the massive benefits that personal individual access can bring. All evidence shows that it vastly improves pupil motivation, involvement and attitude, resulting in a more enjoyable and productive classroom environment.

Evidence also shows that it reduces truancy, for the simple reason that the pupils involved suddenly find school interesting again. If we can make learning interesting, then our children will want to learn.



How is Education Changing?

A Curriculum for Excellence (hereinafter “ACFE”) asks; ‘what skills do our children really need in the work place, how should we address the curriculum to achieve this, and how do we need to change the way we measure and examine their abilities to reflect this?’ This exciting modernisation is well overdue, but in order to successfully deliver ACFE we need to do this on a modern platform for learning. For this to occur, Learning Hubs needs to become a reality.
For more information on ACFE visit http://www.acurriculumforexcellencescotland.gov.uk/

Glow promises to deliver a virtual learning environment and a national infrastructural education backbone so that every child and teacher will be able to access rich educational content. It has the potential to give our children a new vision whilst acting as a catalyst to improve learning and teaching. The Scottish Executive has invested millions of pounds into Glow. Unfortunately, without the connectivity and the devices to access it, its potential will be wasted. Quite simply, if people cannot access it, they cannot use it. Learning Hubs resolves this issue by providing the internet connectivity and the devices to access it.
For more information on Glow visit http://www.glowscotland.org.uk/

Learning Hubs provides the mechanism to deliver a Curriculum for Excellence and the conduit to
both access and connect to Glow. Learning Hubs is the ‘missing link’.




Why Does Education Need to Change?

Scotland’s unquestionable historical production of world leading inventors, engineers and scientists resulted from our advanced and innovative education system. James IV passed the first Education Act in 1496, decades ahead of other countries, and this set the benchmark for formalised learning. Our first University was founded in way back in 1413 and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie dedicated much of his wealth to fund libraries to educate Scotland’s people back in the 19th Century.

Since then the world has changed dramatically but our education system has only encountered piecemeal change. Scotland must modernise its education system and embrace technology or face a perilous future.

Outside school, children constantly use and engage with technology, at school many only get 45 minutes of Information Communication Technology (ICT) a week. Today’s education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how our children live and how they learn.

"A simple question to ask is; how has the world of a child changed in the last 150 years?" The answer is, it's hard to imagine any way in which it hasn't changed! But if you look at school today versus 100 years ago, it is more similar than dissimilar." [Peter Senge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology]

The need to modernise our education system has never been greater, not purely for the point of keeping up with technology itself, but also to react to the global shift in the economy.

“The balance of power is shifting dramatically, Asia is now out-producing Europe, China is responsible for half the world's clothing and electronics output and India (once the embodiment of a third-world economy), is currently running 75% of the world's outsourced services.” [Iain S Bruce Sunday Herald – 3rd February 2007]

"We must recognise and discuss the major social and economic challenges that we face… The urgency of these issues is still underestimated, not only by ordinary citizens but by too many policymakers, where there is still a lack of real insight into the magnitude of the problems that Europe will face in the near future. We cannot escape from the need to transform. If we want to remain competitive in this globalising economy, we must focus on innovation and modernisation now." [Wim Kok, Netherlands Minister of State and the former Dutch prime minister.]

“Our young people and the generations to come are entering a world starkly different from the one you and I entered. They will face competition for work that you or I never experienced - and they need to be prepared for that global competition.” [Mr Peter Peacock - Scotland’s Former Education Minister]

Scotland has to adapt to survive.



Pre-NEET Intervention
NEET is the group of 16-19 year olds who are Not in Employment, Education, or Training. It is believed that the biggest benefactors of the Learning Hubs programme will be those living in the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas by closing the opportunity gap and digital divide between rich and poor. Accordingly a prime focus of the project is the intervention of pre-NEET.

Tackling NEET is a national priority. Since devolution, the Scottish Executive has maintained a strong focus on poverty and disadvantage[[#_ftn1|[1]]], and the First Minister has underlined the Executive’s commitment to the NEET challenge by bringing business and education leaders together.

The economic and social costs of NEET extend well into later life, with evidence that young people who are NEET for a prolonged period are most likely to encounter persistent problems of worklessness and social exclusion.4 NEET burdens the economy with astronomical costs resulting from unemployment, under employment, crime, poor health, substance abuse, premature death and early mother-hood.
Evidence suggests that the two main factors attributing to NEET are disadvantage and educational disaffection manifested by truancy[[#_ftn2|[2]]], low attainment [[#_ftn3|[3]]] and exclusion. All research and evidence from similar projects indicate that Learning Hubs will significantly reduce truancy and improve attainment whilst re-engaging many of those currently disillusioned with education.

Low attainment is also often accompanied with a similar lack of generic skills for life and work.[[#_ftn4|[4]]] Recent research found that 43% of employers felt school leavers they had recently recruited were poorly prepared for the world of work.[[#_ftn5|[5]]]

It is believed that the Learning Hubs programme will make a significant difference to the NEET category and indeed to all children, by making education more enjoyable and engaging, whilst providing school leavers with the 21st Century skills that they deserve and need to thrive in the work place.

Learning Hubs will address the NEET issue and it will close the digital divide
between rich and poor, providing equal opportunities to all.



[[#_ftnref1|[1]]] The Scottish Executive, More Choices More Chances, a strategy to reduce the Proportion of Young People not in Education Employment or Training in Scotland, 2006
[[#_ftnref2|[2]]] Research from England’s Social Exclusion Unit 1999 shows that a quarter of those who truanted persistently in year 11 (Scottish S4 equivalent) were not in education, employment or training the following year.
[[#_ftnref3|[3]]] 28% of young people who are NEET have no qualifications.
[[#_ftnref4|[4]]] The Scottish Executive, More Choices More Chances
[[#_ftnref5|[5]]] Futureskills Scotland, Scottish School Leavers and their Understanding of the World of Work, April 2005.

The promise of Scotland's future resides in the minds of pupils

whose potential to thrive is limited only by their opportunity and enthusiasm to learn.