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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.7 Skills for innovation

Last update: 25 January 2021
On this page
  1. Innovation in formal education
  2. Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work


Innovation in formal education

There is no statutory curriculum in Scotland. The curriculum framework, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), allows local authorities who are responsible for education, to adopt their own curricular models while adhering to the tenets of CfE.

The focus on developing skills for learning, life and work is a feature of both the BGE phase and the Senior Phase. The Senior Phase builds on the skills developed previously. As these relate to developing innovation skills in the BGE phase, these include that within the ‘social studies’ curriculum area, children and young people will develop:

  • curiosity and problem-solving skills and capacity to take initiatives
  • the capacity for critical thinking through accessing, analysing and using information from a wide variety of sources.

Innovation skills are widely associated with technological innovation. In the ‘technologies’ curriculum area, well-designed practical activities offer children and young people opportunities to develop:

  • curiosity and problem-solving skills, a capacity to work with others and take initiative
  • planning and organisational skills in a range of contexts
  • creativity and innovation, for example though ICT and computer-aided design and manufacturing approaches.

Curriculum for Excellence is underpinned by a philosophy of active learning, self-evaluation and reflection for both pupils and teachers. Further characteristics of this approach include:

  • learning independently
  • taking responsibility for learning
  • collaborative learning
  • applying learning and skills development.

These features foster the type of skills which facilitate innovation.

The majority of universities provide a Graduate Attributes framework or scheme, setting out the soft skills which students may develop during their time at university, such as entrepreneurship, creative thinking, global citizenship and thinking with curiosity. Links to some of these are on the Character Scotland website.

Further information

There are overlaps in the types of skills supporting innovation and those supporting entrepreneurship and creativity. See the article on 'Development of Entrepreneurship Competence' and see subheading 'Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training' in the article 'Developing Cultural and Creative Competences' for information on these.

See also the chapters Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education and Teaching and Learning in General and Vocational Upper Secondary Education in the Eurydice Network’s education system description.


Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work

The National STEM Learning Network is a joint initiative by the Department for Education and the Wellcome Trust. The initiative, which is UK-wide, was set up in direct response to concerns about the engagement of young people in science.Among the programmes and projects run by the network, is the STEM Ambassadors programme. STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines. As well as working with schools and colleges across the UK, the network works with youth and community groups and others to ensure they have access to STEM Ambassadors to engage young people with STEM subjects outside the classroom.With the support of Government funding, this programme is offered free of charge to education providers and youth and community organisations. Further information is available from the STEM Ambassadors hubs:Science Connects (West Scotland) STEM East (East Scotland) Aberdeen Science Centre (North Scotland)

Scotland’s 2017 STEM Education and Training Strategy aims to deliver excellent STEM learning at all levels, and close participation and attainment gaps. The second annual progress report was published in 2020. 

British Science Week is an annual programme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths events and activities across the UK for people of all ages. It is run by the British Science Association (BSA). British Science Week supports any type of organiser, including youth and community groups and will help organisers to plan events by providing a range of free activity and support resources.BSA began a new extra-curricular initiative in 2017 for young people aged 11-to-19 to come up with innovative solutions that have the potential to change the world in global health and development issues. The initiative, Youth Grand Challenges, links with BSA’s CREST Awards programme which is the only nationally recognised accreditation scheme for young people’s project work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The awards are offered at six levels and are for 5- to 19-year-olds. CREST gives young people the chance to participate in hands-on science through investigations and enquiry-based learning. The programme can be run in schools, clubs, youth groups, other organisations or at home.