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Extra rungs on lifelong learning ladder

A ground-breaking Scottish initiative that attempts to make sense of qualifications from school Access courses to university doctorates is set to expand its reach.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework aims to include informal learning, skill acquisition and work-based learning in its orbit. These will be given value alongside more traditional qualifications on the SCQF "ladder", which the Executive regards as essential to give meaning to its lifelong learning plans.

Andrew Cubie, who chairs the framework's joint advisory committee, told its third national conference this week that the aim is "to provide a package of credit-rating services, whether for individuals looking for prior formal or informal learning to be recognised for credit; or for employers looking for their training programmes to be recognised for credit; or to link with learning opportunities in college or university".

The framework is now routinely used to describe school and college qualifications - a Higher pass is level 6, for example, while Standard grade Credit and Intermediate 2 awards are on level 5. As the levels move up, other qualifications are placed alongside, above or below them so employers and other users can see at a glance where they fit in.

But the Edinburgh University study of Higher Still (page one) points out that the framework is still in its infancy and it is still too early to judge its impact.

It has "accepted rather than challenged the hierarchies on which qualifications may depend", the study states.

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