£4.6 million funding package announced to expand collaborative Scottish academy model

A pioneering initiative has received a £4.6 million award from the Scottish Funding Council that will see up to 1200 young people enter into specialist academy training in their chosen field of employment whilst they are still at school.
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Dec. 18, 2012 - PRLog -- A pioneering initiative developed by Queen Margaret University (QMU) in collaboration with Edinburgh College and East Lothian Council has received a £4.6 million award from the Scottish Funding Council that will see up to 1200 young people enter into specialist academy training in their chosen field of employment whilst they are still at school.  

The announcement comes after the successful launch earlier this year of the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy that is aimed at smoothing the transition from learning to working in the industry for 16 to 18 year olds.  Now the collaborative model will be rolled out across more secondary schools in East Lothian, Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders and new academies in healthcare, food science and the creative industries will be developed.

The project could revolutionise how young people access education, training and employment and it is hoped it will raise pupils’ aspirations, enhance employability and support Scotland’s economic development in key areas of growth.   Academy students follow the normal school curriculum, attending additional classes in their chosen field at College and University and gaining work experience with partner employers at weekends.  Entry to the Academies will take place in S5, with transition to either an HNC or first year university after one year and access to second year at university possible after two years. Alternatively, young people may opt to move straight into employment.

Commenting on the funding award QMU Deputy Principal Professor Alan Gilloran said;

“This announcement marks a turning point in Scottish education.  We look forward to working with our partners to develop the model in some of Scotland’s key development areas of Healthcare, Food Science and Creative Industries. Together with Hospitality & Tourism these disciplines represent the core flagships of Queen Margaret University’s education, research and knowledge exchange.’  

“It opens up opportunities for students to pursue their areas of interest earlier and is accessible to those who may otherwise have been excluded from further and higher education, or the workplace, for a variety of reasons. The Academies will provide employers with an educated workforce and the core skills they demand that cannot be learned solely in a classroom environment.”

Work experience is a fundamental part of the Academy programme and employers provide a range of work experiences and mentoring for young people in the evenings and at weekends commensurate with the needs of the industries. Importantly the involvement of employers at an early stage in the process helps to ensure that the graduates who will emerge at the end of the programme have the necessary skills and attributes which aid successful entry into the workplace.

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said:

"The Scottish Government and our agencies are focused on strengthening opportunities for young people to access the skills they need to fulfil their potential and contribute to Scotland’s economic success.’

“This £4.6 million investment in skills development will help up to 1,200 young people enhance their employability and develop careers in healthcare, qpspu food science, tourism and our creative industries.’

“I’ve seen first-hand the how East Lothian’s Hospitality and Tourism Academy is offering our young people training to seize employment opportunities in this dynamic sector, and I’m delighted this innovative programme is being extended to other industries.”

It is anticipated that by 2014-2015 there will be up to 1200 young people enrolled across the four academies with at least ten schools taking part.  In the existing Hospitality & Tourism Academy, East Lothian Council provides a full-time coordinator, teachers in the schools and a budget for clothing, equipment & transport. Edinburgh College and QMU provide access to facilities, teaching staff and materials, networks in the industries and access to current research.

Ray McCowan Director of Curriculum Strategy & Academic Planning at Edinburgh College said;

“Edinburgh College is delighted to be working alongside our partners at Queen Margaret University on developing these Academies. This model of delivering education to young people where schools, colleges, universities and employers work together really does put the learner at the centre. This funding award will enable us to build on the success of the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy to offer different and better learning opportunities to young people in Edinburgh Lothian and Borders. The Academies will develop work-ready young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that employers require to gain a competitive edge in a demanding economic climate.”

Don Ledingham, Director of Education for East Lothian and Midlothian, said:

“The future of education will be based upon partnerships where organisations put the needs of learners before their own.  The Vocational Academy model has demonstrated that it's possible to create new curricular delivery models which blur the boundaries between schools, further and higher education, and the world of work in an exciting and meaningful manner. The evidence from the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy is that young people are ready for new learning experiences which will enable them to make their way in the world beyond school - it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we build upon this through the new the opportunity provided through this exceptional funding package.”

Senior Education Manager Karen Prophet of City of Edinburgh Council said;

“This is a very exciting initiative that will benefit school pupils in the city considerably, whether they wish to find a different route to further and higher education, or gain a head start in the job market. We expect the Academies will be of interest to a wide range of applicants, some of whom may not have the same opportunities under the conventional learner journey.  We are delighted to be a partner with Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh College and look forward to working with them, employers and our pupils to bring the Academies to life.”

Glenn Rodger, Director of Education & Lifelong Learning at Scottish Borders Council said;

“The Academy style of learning is a hugely exciting initiative that will give young people in the Borders more choice in how they develop their education and careers.  We welcome the funding package and look forward to working with our partners to make it a success for everyone involved.”

Source:Queen Margaret University
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