SCOTS programme graduates celebrate in Falkirk

SCOTS event winners and VIP guests

SCOTS programme graduates celebrate in Falkirk

High school pupils from the Falkirk area who took part in this year’s School-College Opportunities to Succeed (SCOTS) programme, were presented with certificates this week to recognise their hard work over the past year.

At a special event held at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk Campus Main Hall on the afternoon of Tuesday 19 April, the students were joined by their parents, College staff, school teachers and VIPs from Falkirk Council – including Provost Pat Reid and Steve Dougan Falkirk Council’s former and very successful Opportunities for All Co-ordinator, who has recently returned to his post as Head Teacher of Bo’ness Academy - who were all keen to celebrate the third graduation ceremony of the successful programme.

Four prizes were also presented to SCOTS pupils who excelled in various areas this year. Shauna Keenan a pupil at Denny High School won the Inspire Award, Bo’ness Academy pupil Natasha Duffy was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Award, Owen Erskine from Larbert High School scooped the Outstanding Personal Achievement prize and the Learner of the Year 2016 was presented to Reece Ryan a pupil at Graeme High School.

Reece Ryan, won SCOTS Learner of the Year as he was someone who had excelled overall during the programme, said:

“I was very surprised to have won a prize. The best thing for me about the SCOTS programme was the science and engineering aspect. That has definitely given me an idea of what I want to do and I will be starting an HNC in Engineering after the summer holidays at Forth Valley College. I love it here and I would definitely advise other pupils to take the chance and have a go at the SCOTS course.”

Shauna Keenan, who won her award as she was a positive influence and role model within their peer group and was someone who demonstrated a positive attitude, motivation and inspired others to achieve, said:

“I feel great to have won the Inspire Award, it is so unexpected. The SCOTS course was really, really good and I would recommend it. I loved the hair and beauty aspect of the course and that is what I want to do.”

Natasha Duff, who has shown an outstanding contribution in the STEM area, said:

“I was really surprised and did not expect to win an award. The Creative Industries section of the SCOTS course was the best thing for me and now I am looking forward to doing a Skills for Work Creative Industries course in August. School pupils should give SCOTS a try.”

Owen Erskine, a student who has made great personal progress during the programme and who won the Outstanding Personal Achievement prize , said:

“I am really happy to have won an award, but I was not expecting it at all. It is a great bit of recognition for the hard work I put in and I had great fun throughout the SCOTS course. I would tell other pupils to have a go at SCOTS.”

The ground-breaking partnership between Forth Valley College and Falkirk Council, SCOTS, allowed mainly fourth year pupils to attend college one afternoon per week to experience eight different subjects including construction; hair and beauty; engineering; business; administration and tourism; care; fitness, health and exercise; creative industries and science and to work towards the Falkirk Employability Award throughout the course.

Within the local schools, the young people involved worked with teachers to improve their skills for learning, skills for work and skills for life.  They also developed employability skills such as - researching for jobs, creating a CV, preparing for interviews and also learning more about the “taster” subjects they were undertaking within Forth Valley College. 

Forth Valley College Principal Dr Ken Thomson, said:

“Once again we are delighted to be here to honour S4 pupils from the Falkirk area who have completed the full SCOTS course and are graduating today. We hope they found it to be worthwhile and of great benefit in helping them make up their minds as to which study route they might want to take in life. As has been the case from the previous SCOTS alumni, many of those who took part may well apply for a further course here at Forth Valley College and we look forward to seeing them back at the College very soon.

“The SCOTS programme has certainly been a great success and an excellent example of the close working partnership between Forth Valley College and Falkirk Council. We are already looking forward to welcoming our next cohort of learners from Falkirk schools who will be able to experience the benefits of the SCOTS programme at Forth Valley College.”

Falkirk Council Provost Pat Reid, said:

“I really enjoyed myself at the SCOTS graduation ceremony at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk Campus. SCOTS is a great working example of successful partnership between Falkirk Council and the College and we are delighted with how it is progressing.

“This is a big opportunity for fourth year pupils, who in the past might not have had such a chance to experience these subjects in a further education environment. I can well believe, from listening and speaking with those present on the day, of just how big a difference the SCOTS programme has made in their lives from when they started, especially in relation to self-confidence and awareness of what they want to do in the future.

“I have been very encouraged by seeing so many pupils graduate and hope they grab these chances when they can. Long may it continue.”

Steve Dougan, Falkirk Council’s former Opportunities for All Co-ordinator, said:

“It has been another extremely successful year for the partnership between the schools and Forth Valley College and I’m confident that all those that have graduated now have a far clearer picture of what they want to do next.

“Having just moved back to school as Head Teacher of Bo’ness Academy and spoken to all of my pupils on the SCOTS course, it’s clear to see that they have not only enjoyed the course but also gained numerous essential skills for them to be successful in their future careers.”

The innovative SCOTS programme is succeeding in helping disengaged school pupils progress to positive destinations.   

A remarkable 99% of the 104 pupils who undertook the pilot School-College Opportunities to Succeed (SCOTS) Programme in 2013/14 have now progressed to college, training or employment or remained at school to continue their studies.   

In addition, all 107 pupils on the programme during 2014/15 successfully completed it with current figures showing 97% of students have progressed to a positive destination pending further information on the remaining 3%.

The results demonstrate the considerable impact that the programme is having on pupils who had the potential to join the NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) Group upon leaving school.

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