Digital Strategy for Education

Portfolio Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 16 May 2024.

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Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party 2:00, 16 May 2024

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the development of a digital strategy to help ensure that digital provision supports the wider aims of the education system. (S6O-03441)

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

As set out in the 2023 programme for government, work has commenced on development of a new digital strategy for education. Working in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, we will establish an advisory group to support both the development work and wider engagement across the system. We expect to publish that in autumn 2024.

Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

With rapid developments in digital technology, the new cross-party group on the Scottish games ecosystem has exposed an issue around Scottish Qualifications Authority college qualifications. The college qualifications have not been updated in 13 years. A college lecturer spoke at the CPG about a course that still talks about Flash Player, which I used as an information technology professional more than 24 years ago.

Will the new digital strategy work to update educational qualifications in the games and artificial intelligence-adjacent courses, so that skills and education keep pace?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I thank the member for her question, in particular as it relates to colleges. She will know that Professor Louise Hayward’s review, which was published last year, looked specifically at the opportunities that AI presents and at supporting the development of new qualifications as part of our programme of education reform.

I would be more than happy to ask the Minister for Higher and Further Education to engage with the member on the specific issue in relation to colleges. More generally, it is important that our new digital strategy for education outlines the role that we believe digital tools and services will play in the future of Scottish education.

Photo of Sue Webber Sue Webber Conservative

As we all know, the pace of development in digital is quite breathtaking. Can the cabinet secretary provide clarity on delivery on the ground in classrooms and, importantly, when teachers and learners will start to benefit from the digital strategy before, quite frankly, it is obsolete?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

As Ms Webber will recognise, part of the budgetary process that I now oversee will invest £10 million to support digital inclusion for hard-pressed families who are struggling with the cost of living. I understand that the funding is currently being distributed through COSLA to local authorities that will then have the power to make a difference in their communities by enacting the types of changes that we will need to support the new digital strategy.

As well as providing that additionality, it will be incumbent on the Government to progress the strategy that will sit alongside it and the actions that will help to support the development of the new qualifications. To that end, I look forward to coming back to Parliament in the coming week to give a further update.