ASSOCIATION OF SCOTTISH COLLEGES
Additional Evidence to the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee’s
Inquiry into Lifelong Learning
“THE SCHOOL/COLLEGE INTERFACE”
1. Background to the Additional Evidence
1.1 The Association of Scottish Colleges gave oral evidence at the Committee’s
26th Meeting on 14th November 2001. During this session, Committee
members requested additional evidence on how Scotland’s Further Education
Colleges work in partnership with schools to assist young people in transitions
from school to college or work.
1.2 This additional evidence is given below, but it should be noted that it
supplements the ASC’s main evidence, which covers this issue at Section 4,
Paragraphs 4.20 to 4.24, [The Interface with Schools].
2. Overview of College/School Links
2.1 Scotland’s Further Education Colleges are community colleges in the true
sense of that term. For colleges, working with and serving the communities in
which they are situated is one of the most important factors in their mission.
FE colleges are also unique in the education sector in their strong links to
every other part of that sector, including employers and enterprise companies,
universities and the voluntary or community learning sector. Colleges are
proud of their links with local primary and secondary schools and are keen to
maintain and develop them to the mutual satisfaction of the schools, colleges
and most importantly the young people who benefit.
2.2 These factors shape the ways in which colleges interact with schools. They
allow colleges to act uniquely as a bridge for their school partners to facilitate
the transition to work or further learning for a wide spectrum of students. This
process focuses mainly on secondary schools, but colleges also have
important links to primary schools. These allow pupils at those schools to
have early, practical experience of the work of colleges, with the aim of
making what the colleges offer an accepted part of the learning process,
whether or not the students later take a college course.
2.3 The main areas in which colleges are working with schools are summarised
below. As requested by the Committee, examples of good practice in each of
these areas are given in the attached Annex. These examples are not spread
across all of Scotland's colleges, because each college is involved in a range
of activities, but it is hoped that they cover the full spectrum of types of
activity. Paragraph letters are used to give easy reference to the examples in
the Annex and are not indicative of rank/order of importance.
2.4 Colleges work with schools by:
a.) Giving access to subjects and facilities, which either have too few
students interested to be taught in individual schools or for which the
facilities are too expensive to be installed in a single school.
b.) Promoting career opportunities in key areas of Scotland’s economy
and where skills gaps exist or are emerging, such as science and
c.) Providing links to other educational pathways, such as higher
education, and employers and job schemes.
d.) Providing taster courses to engage the interest of those in the 14 - 16
age group, who are unsure of what career they wish to pursue and
wish to know more about a training course or particular subject before
embarking on a course or who are unsure of their ability to study at a
e.) Allowing “at risk” youngsters who are outgrowing interest in schools a
more extensive chance to study alongside older students learning
subjects (generally vocational) at college. (These older students tend
to be strongly motivated towards education because they have chosen
to expand their knowledge and career choices.) Such experience re-
engages the majority of school students, who similarly benefit from
improved career prospects, benefits schools by minimising disruption
and benefits society by helping these individuals develop as citizens.
f.) Working with community organisations providing, for example, holiday
play groups. This has the aim of making young people and parents
who might not otherwise come into contact with the college aware of
the range of opportunities that further education offers.
g.) Offering Winter Leavers Programmes, starting (usually early) school
leavers in a structured Higher Still transition.
h.) Working with pupils with special needs and from special schools.
i.) Providing interesting and structured revision facilities in school holidays
to help students from local schools achieve better results in
j.) College students working with schools, where appropriate, as part of
In summary, colleges provide more choice and opportunities for school
students and different stepping-stones into employment or university.
3. Impact of Higher Still and the SCQF
3.1 Although Colleges have worked with schools increasingly over the years, a
recent major boost to these activities has come with the introduction of the
National Qualifications framework in Scotland which bridges the divide
between academic and vocational qualifications. This joined-up system
allows for flexibility and progression via credit transfer across the FE/schools
interface and beyond. The expanded range of National Qualifications
introduced through Higher Still, e.g. vocational highers, has enabled schools
and colleges to work together to provide more choice and opportunities for
school students and a stepping stone into employment or higher education.
3.2 This will be further strengthened with the introduction of the Scottish Credit
and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), which spans the whole range of
qualifications and institutions in Scotland.
4. Co-ordination and Management Structures
4.1 Colleges support this very large spectrum of activities in a variety of ways.
Many colleges have senior staff posts co-ordinating links with schools and
associated activities. For example, Lauder College has proactive co-
ordination through its Development Managers for Education and its
Curriculum Manager for Foundation Skills and many colleges have dedicated
Schools Liaison Officers.
4.2 Schools liaison officers from colleges share best practice through the
‘National Association of Scottish Colleges Schools Liaison Officers
4.3 Colleges also commonly have Local Council Members with strong school links
on their Boards of Management, for example Kilmarnock College has the
chairs of East Ayrshire's Education and Social Inclusion Committees on its
THE SCHOOL/COLLEGE INTERFACE
Case Study Examples
a. Higher Still – Expanding Choice and Opportunity
½ Motherwell College offers coherent programmes of SQA Units to schools on
a part-time basis. These programmes are agreed with School Managers and
are carefully chosen to ensure that they do not compete with the curriculum
offered by the schools. They enhance the curriculum by offering opportunities
that otherwise would not be available to the students. These courses normally
require students to attend the College on two occasions each week, with each
session lasting approximately 2 hours. Examples of courses available are:
Engineering, Construction, Computing, Hospitality, Caring, Sports Studies.
Currently 12 schools and approximately 500 students participate in the
programme. Motherwell College also offers First Aid training (not only as
vital knowledge but also as an aid to employability) to approximately 800
students per year.
½ Similarly Kilmarnock College offers Higher Psychology, but also offers
vocational programmes for 88 S4/S5 school pupils, who have an interest in
vehicle services, caring, hairdressing and engineering. While Lauder College
currently offers Advanced Highers (50 students in 2001/2 on the Scholar
programme), a range of non-traditional Highers such as politics, more unusual
languages and drama (32 students) and a range of intermediate programmes
½ West Lothian College offers choices agreed with 11 local secondary schools
where school students can travel either to a different school or college to
enhance their subject choice. Additional courses are offered through a
“choices column” in the school timetable. Over 100 students have participated
to date in a variety of courses including Studying Care, Media, Sport,
Psychology and Sociology. Falkirk College has joined-up with all 8
secondary schools in the area to offer S6 students the opportunity to study
vocational NQs up to two afternoons per week in college. The most popular
subjects are psychology, care, engineering, tourism and hospitality.
bi. Promoting Careers Opportunities in Key Areas of Scotland’s Economy
Where Skills Gap Exist or are Emerging Such as in Science and
½ Motherwell College has run a 2-day programme called LITE (Look into
Technology and Engineering) successfully for a number of years. It is
designed to be delivered to S2 female pupils before they select their standard
grade subjects. It aims to positively influence their choice by introducing them
to them to the careers and opportunities available in technology and
engineering. All participating students receive a college certificate. The
initiative has proved to be popular and attracts 40 students each year.
½ Lauder College runs an after school fun club for about 20 primary students.
Entitled “Chips with Everything” it provides a 6 week basic microelectronics
introduction leading to the College’s Robot Fun Course.
½ Colleges are frequently involved in running Young Engineers Clubs for school
pupils studying science and technology. For example, Angus College
organises local networks of engineering employers, the Angus Engineering
Forum, which provides support for the local Young Engineers Club.
bii. Education/Industry Links
½ Dumfries and Galloway College – Construction Industry Training Board
(CITB) Curriculum Centre. The College works with local primary and
secondary schools and the CITB in delivery of a Curriculum Centre which is
designed to involve pupils of all ages in construction related work. Such
centres also provide facilities for students projects. Examples of recent
initiatives include involvement of primary schools in the design and
construction of facilities to use in playgrounds. Angus College also organises
a Health and Safety Course for school pupils undertaking work placements in
the local construction industry.
½ Motherwell College run a “Newspaper Day” for S5/S6 pupils. This is a
National event, which is sponsored by Blue Chip Companies. The event aims
to provide rich cross-curricular activity, by challenging students to produce a
newspaper by a given deadline. Students use the Internet to download
stories during the morning and use the afternoon to produce the paper. This
year a total of 24 school students participated. The students had the
opportunity to write for a real audience, develop teamworking skills, develop
IT skills, and take part in a fun day.
½ Angus College worked with pupils from Timmergeens primary to design
“wheelie bins” with compartments for recycling. Other colleges offer facilities
to primary school pupils for special project work linked to industrial sectors.
½ Kilmarnock College’s Enterprise Team has also worked with colleagues in
the primary school sector on language material for teaching French where
specialist language teachers are not available.
ci. Widening Access to HE
½ Dumfries and Galloway College has been instrumental in developing a
unique arrangement involving the Crichton Campus and the local secondary
schools. Following a series of meetings with local Head Teachers, they
proposed the development of the Crichton University Student Agreement
(CUSA). This was in response to Head Teachers’ concerns that there was a
significant minority of students who had the ability to attend HE/University but
did not have either the motivation, parental support or in some cases finances
to do so. The response has been to develop CUSA, which involves the
Crichton Campus partners representatives meeting with pupils during their
Careers interviews as they are making their subject choices for Standard
Grades. At that point they are able to sign an agreement which means that,
should they meet the required entry standards and any other agreed criteria
set by the schools, they will be guaranteed a place on the Crichton Campus,
which will be held open for them. Working with Crichton Foundation in
securing private funding means that Dumfries and Galloway College has been
able to offer an additional bursary of £200 per annum, which will be payable to
the students as part of the Agreement. This Agreement also applies to
College HNC/D students who will ultimately articulate to the 2nd or 3rd year of
a Degree programme at the Campus. It has engendered significant local
interest amongst both students and the local community.
½ West Lothian College works with Higher Education Institutions and with
other colleges on the “Welcome to HE” summer programme and many other
colleges support HE/Schools Initiatives – for example through the
½ Edinburgh’s Telford College deliver talks to schools advising and informing
students about FE and how to use FE as a bridge to Higher Education.
cii. Encouraging Enterprise
½ Motherwell College runs a course for pupils from S3/S4/S5 in Starting Your
Own Business. This is a basic Introductory Course designed to raise
awareness of the opportunities of self-employment. The course can be
delivered as part of a Social Education Programme using a single period per
week over a number of weeks or over two full days.
½ Motherwell College actively supports both North and South Lanarkshire
Council’s Education Departments in their delivery of Education for Work
Programmes. The College activities are designed to suit various stages in the
Secondary School Curriculum.
½ Angus College works with Arbroath Academy, Arbroath High School and
Carnoustie High School to provide work experience.
½ Kilmarnock College’s Enterprise Team co-ordinates enterprise activity in
primary and secondary schools in East Ayrshire. The Enterprise School and
College Groups sell their Christmas gift ideas at the Enterprise Christmas
Fayre in December held in the College.
ciii. Assisting the School to College Transition
½ Oatridge Agricultural College has partnerships with 12 local schools to
assist in the transition between school and college. Typically, around 160
pupils participate in the course of a year. Every Tuesday, a different group of
around 8 pupils come to college to experience "vocational skills". The aim is
to enable pupils to experience "a day in the life of" for example an animal
technician, a stockman, an engineer, a greenkeeper etc. and to assist them in
making career choices.
½ Edinburgh’s Telford College arranges course shadowing for school pupils,
where they can spend a day with a group of full time college students and are
allocated a student mentor for the day.
d. Vocational Taster Courses, Progression and Links to Employment
½ Motherwell College has been organising “World of Work Skills Days” for
12 years. These events are designed to give S3 Pupils an opportunity to
‘taste’ activities that are directly related to the World of Work. During the day
every pupil gets an opportunity to try 5 activities from a menu of 20, which in
the main are practical and last approximately 50 minutes. Typical activities
are: Automobile Engineering, Robotics, Electronics. Food Preparation, Child
Care, First Aid, Beauty Therapy and Team Building. During Session
2000/2001 3,500 pupils from Secondary Schools in North and South
Lanarkshire benefited. Recent developments have seen the modification of
the programmes to allow Primary 7 pupils to have their own World of Work
Skills Day. During session 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 seven Primary Schools
have visited the Motherwell College to take part in a Skills Day.
½ Edinburgh’s Telford College organises a 3.5 day programme for S4 pupils
to raise awareness of progression routes, careers etc in a particular
vocational area. The College also organises one-day tasters for S3 pupils.
Pupils can choose options they are interested in including building, wood
crafts, chef for a day. Similar schemes are organised by many other colleges.
For example, Motherwell College has a network for cookery/cake decoration
demonstrations to assist in raising awareness about the hospitality industry
and runs pre-vocational hospitality courses for S3/4 currently piloted with 180
e. Encouraging “at risk” youngsters to stay in education
½ Fife College works with local schools and the Careers Service to provide
support at both S3 and S4 for pupils who are at risk of failing at school.
Programmes were developed which provided core skill development and
vocational tasters in the “voluntary” college environment. Recruitment to the
programme was through referral by school guidance and Careers Service
staff. This contact allowed for a progressive and planned transition from a
school-based environment to the College. A one week taster ran in June in
which the pupils undertook a sample timetable from the programme. Pupils
entering the programme retain contact with school until leaving age and also
maintain a link with the Careers Service. The programme is entitled Skilled
for Work and seeks to maintain these students in education and prepare
them for the job-market.
½ Kilmarnock College has a number of innovative projects working with pupils
excluded from schools. Pupils participate in vocational subjects such as
carpentry or joinery; motor vehicles, care or hairdressing and are provided
with extra support by the college. The project has achieved successes and as
a result, schools have been able to re-engage with pupils whose behaviour
has improved significantly due to their college experience. The feedback from
the pupils indicates that they enjoy being treated as adults by college staff
who work extra hard for them.
f. Wider links with Communities to raise awareness of education
½ Angus College works with Angus Special Playscheme, a charitable
organisation offering holiday playgroups to children aged from 3-12 and
running term time youth clubs. In March of this year, the College hosted and
promoted an exhibition of works of art from these groups.
g. Winter Leaver Programmes
½ Lauder College has run a Winter Leavers Programme since 1995. It attracts
approximately 140 pupils per annum and is designed to start these students
on a structured Higher Still transition. The Course lasts 20 weeks, each with
25 hours study. Exit guidance and progression to January programmes,
Skillseekers or employment is supported by Careers Fife.
½ West Lothian College runs a Winter Learners Programme with European
Social Fund support. This is a large project across 4 councils in the Lothians.
Programmes run in 4 colleges (West Lothian, Jewel & Esk Valley, Stevenson
and Telford) for groups of disaffected youngsters who spend their final school
term in college. Programmes have been most successful where good
guidance and pastoral care has been given.
h. Working with pupils from Special Schools
½ Colleges work in a variety of schemes with pupils from special needs schools.
For example: - Motherwell College runs a course in banqueting skills for
MLD students from 6 special schools. Since 1994, Lauder College has also
been recognised as a best practice provider in special education transition
programmes for a range of secondary and special schools. Many of the
practices developed at Lauder have been extended nationally under the
i. Easter Holiday Revision
½ The Glasgow Colleges have combined to deliver a programme co-ordinated
through College Principals and Directors of Education to provide Easter
holiday revision programmes for Standard and Higher Grade examinations.
100 pupils attended these programmes at Glasgow College of Food
½ Motherwell College has sponsored the North Lanarkshire Easter School for
the last 3 years. Approximately 200 senior students from secondary schools
in the Motherwell/Wishaw area spend 1 week of their Easter Holidays in the
College revising for their Higher Grade examinations. They are tutored by
teachers from North Lanarkshire schools and 16 subjects were available in
j. College Students working with schools as part of their training
½ Health Care students from Angus College visit local primary schools, such as
Friockheim Primary, to promote health eating; while children from
Timmergreens primary school visited the College’s NQ Catering Kitchens to
experience catering production. Glasgow College of Food Technology
similarly has links, funded through the National Grid for Learning, with local
primary schools to promote healthy eating. This programme has now
received funding for further development because of its very positive