Four hundred students from 50 schools across Edinburgh, The Lothians and the Scottish Borders gathered at Queen Margaret University to kick start their learning on the pioneering South East Scotland Academies Partnership programme.
This year’s new students are the fourth group to join the Academies programme, a project led by Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University and local authorities. The Academies give young people the opportunity to study at college and university, undertake work experience and learn about the industry while still at school, highlighting career options and improving employability.
In 2012, the Academies started off by providing educational opportunities for young people in three East Lothian schools. It now offers outstanding learning and career opportunities to 15 – 18-year-old school pupils in East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. Recently, the project expanded into West Lothian, bringing nine new schools on board.
The initiative, which was conceived by three senior staff at Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University, and East Lothian Council, is hailed as one that is delivering real results for Scotland’s young people. Three years ago, the project started off with the Hospitality and Tourism Academy which aimed to smooth the transition between school, college, university and work, as well as raising standards within the industry.
The South East Scotland Academies Partnership now offers four academies in Hospitality and Tourism; Creative Industries, Food Science and Nutrition; and Health and Social Care. The academies provide young people with a real insight into key growth industries and improve their employability by developing specialist skills and knowledge.
All 400 academy students gathered for a photograph in the grounds of Queen Margaret University’s campus in Musselburgh where they will study part of their academy programme. Learning for all four academies also involves the students taking classes with academics and industry experts at the University. Students will also study at Edinburgh College, Borders College or West Lothian College depending on where their schools are located, as well as gaining work experience in industry.