One hundred and sixty nine pupils sign up for pioneering academies project

A total of 169 lucky school pupils from Edinburgh have secured their place on a pioneering academy project which aims to boost educational and career opportunities for 15 to 18-year-olds.

In just two years, the acclaimed academies project, spearheaded by Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh College, has grown from 34 young people from three East Lothian schools, to 450 pupils from over 50 schools in Edinburgh, East and Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.

On Friday 22 August, all 400 new academy students were brought together at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, to begin a programme of learning which will help prepare them for employment in some of Scotland’s most important growth industries.

The initiative, which was conceived by the Vice Principals of Edinburgh College and Queen Margaret University, is hailed as one which is delivering real results for Scotland’s young people. What started as a trial project with three East Lothian secondary schools, has now grown into a unique and highly successful partnership involving the University, Edinburgh College, Borders College, four local authorities and industry partners.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "I’m delighted to see how successful The Academies Partnership has become since it started in Edinburgh since last year. It really makes a huge difference to a young person’s future as it gives them the confidence they need to take those first steps in the right direction when choosing a career or further education.

“The Academies Partnership is part of our education strategy which aims to help pupils into work or further education after leaving school. I would like to thank all the partners from the Universities, Edinburgh College and local businesses for their involvement to date and their continuing support."

Nick Hogarth, Reception Manager at Double Tree by Hilton Edinburgh - City Centre, is an enthusiastic supporter of the academies project. He is very keen to help young people develop a better understanding of opportunities within the hospitality industry and encourage them to view it as a first destination career choice.

He said: “From an employer’s view, the academies project helps develop a pool of young people who are better equipped than ever before to enter the industry. It’s difficult for young people to get experience but the academy model hits all the marks – academic education, industry insight and hands-on learning. I only wish that I’d had this opportunity when I was their age.” 

Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal at Queen Margaret University, said: “The academy model shows partnership working at its very best. By bringing together experts in further and higher education and working directly with schools, local authorities and industry, we can offer young people an incredible start in life – one which can help shape their future and bring about educational and career success.”

Ray McCowan, Vice Principal at Edinburgh College, concluded: “The academies project goes from strength to strength and two years on, the realities of our vision can be clearly seen. Many of the young people are now choosing to study towards careers in these important industries. They will not only be better informed about their own future career direction - they will develop skills and knowledge that can contribute to the growth and development of key industries in Scotland.” 

The Hospitality and Tourism Academy started in 2012 with the aim of smoothing the transition between school, college, university and work, as well as raising standards within the industry. The South East Scotland Academies Project now offers four academies for young people. The more recent additions are The Creative Industries Academy, the Food Science and Nutrition Academy, and the Health and Social Care Academy. The academies provide young people with a real insight into key growth industries and improves their employability by developing specialist skills and knowledge.

The project will mark one of its most significant milestones next month when the first cohort of students graduate from the academies project. Having successfully completed the full two year Hospitality and Tourism Academy, the East Lothian pupils will be the first to graduate with an HNC in Hospitality. These academy students will be in a unique position  - leaving 6th year of school whilst also achieving a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Hospitality. This privileged position secures them a place in specific courses at Edinburgh College or allows them to skip first year and move directly into the second year of BA (Hons) in International Hospitality & Tourism Management at Queen Margaret University.

The addition of key industry partners, such as Double Tree by Hilton, Marriot Hotels, Skills Development Scotland and Creative Scotland, has helped to ensure the academies’ success, allowing young people to develop an understanding of the full range of jobs available within the hospitality, creative industries, food and health sectors.

All 400 new recruits to the academies project gathered for a photograph in the grounds of Queen Margaret University’s campus in Musselburgh where they will study for part of their academy journey. Learning for all four academies also involves the students taking classes with academics and industry experts at the University, as well as Edinburgh College or Borders College and gaining work experience in industry.

More information about the South East Scotland Academies Partnership and the academies project can be found at: http://southeastscotlandacademies.org/index.html

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