Pupils getting a head start on college courses

School pupils across the Borders have secured places on a pioneering academy project aiming to boost educational and career opportunities.

The 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 including Berwickshire High School and Eyemouth high School.

Kirsty Doogan and Shannon Smith outside Eyemouth High School

Kirsty Doogan and Shannon Smith outside Eyemouth High School

Shannon Smith, 16, and Kirsty Doogan, 17, both from Eyemouth, are among the 24 Eyemouth High School pupils taking part.

Shannon attends Borders College one day a week, on the Health and Social Care route.

She said: “I hope to use this to gain experience, because I want to go into nursing in the future, and I’m thinking about going into midwifery when it comes to specialising.

“Hopefully this will ,make me more aware of the opportunities that are out their for me.”

The pair applied for their places on the scheme earlier this year, and found out they had been accepted over the summer.

Before being accepted, Shannon had an interview, while Kirsty, who is studying Acting and Performance under the new Creative Industries programme, also had to prepare a two minute monologue.

“I’m effectively doing two years’ worth of the course in one year,” she said.

“That means that I’ve had to drop another subject because going up to college three days a week means that I just wouldn’t be able to take the exam.

“But hopefully this will be worth it, as it means a non-conditional university place.”

On Friday August 22, all 400 new academy students gathered 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 has now grown into a highly successful partnership involving the University, Edinburgh College, Borders College and four local authorities as well as industry partners.

This secures them a place in specific courses at Edinburgh College or allows them to skip first year and move into the second year of BA (Hons) in International Hospitality and Tourism Management at Queen Margaret University.