Promoting Qualifications and Career Pathways: the Role of the SCQF School Ambassador Programme in Scotland

Group of male and female students photographed from below

A great way to popularise the Qualifications Framework in Scotland is the SCQF School Ambassador Programme. Launched in 2017, the programme serves as a catalyst for engaging students, parents and teachers in insightful discussions about competence acquisition and professional development.

Work on the Scottish Qualifications Framework started as early as 1998 and was completed in 2001. One of the main objectives of its introduction was to set out clear career paths, clearly defining the conditions for achieving particular qualifications and the benefits associated with them. In addition, it was important to show the relationship between the curriculum and the qualifications and, consequently, with the acquired profession/occupation.

It can therefore be said that the Scottish Qualifications Framework is not just a formal description of a hierarchy of qualification levels in the education system. It has become a useful signpost for students, their parents and also teachers in their education and career planning.

An important role in popularising the qualifications framework in Scotland is the SCQF School Ambassador Programme, which was launched in 2017. Its aim is to engage pupils, parents and teachers in the discussion about competence acquisition, and professional development and thereby raise awareness of the opportunities for qualifications the labour market offers.

Any primary school in Scotland can join the programme. Once registered, training sessions are held at the school. These involve both school staff and pupils interested in becoming an Ambassador of the Programme. Those who become ambassadors - generally pupils - can pass on their knowledge to others, such as other pupils and their parents.  In addition, participating schools receive free training materials that they can use in any way they wish, and they get the opportunity to share their experiences with other participating schools, as well as the chance to promote their activities on the SCQF website and social media.  

Tiered Approach for SCQF School Ambassadors has also been developed detailing opportunities for schools to engage with the programme. These were presented in categories such as school engagement, pupil awareness, parental involvement, curriculum changes and increased external contact with employers and universities.  

The commitment of the school and pupils is rewarded by being awarded the appropriate status: bronze, silver or gold. For example, in order to achieve bronze status, school authorities should, among other things, take part in training courses organised as part of the programme, pupils should be informed about the Scottish Qualifications Framework and some of them should apply to become SCQF ambassadors. In addition, the school should maintain relationships with local employers.

It is worth noting that the Programme is becoming more and more popular every year. Its functioning provides a motivation for stimulating student activity and involvement in discussions about the value of education and qualifications in the labour market. Pupils organise meetings, debates and festivals where they discuss the potential of qualifications, their development and the labour market among themselves, with parents and teachers. Interest in the project continues to grow: in April 2023, 205 schools were participating in the SCQF School Ambassadors programme and 12 were undergoing the registration process.



Izabela Przybysz - works as a Key Expert at the Educational Research Institute (IBE). She is involved in the implementation and development of the Integrated Qualification Register and manages the contact point for stakeholders of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).