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by Tom Freeman
13 October 2014
Pioneering academy produces first graduates

Pioneering academy produces first graduates

The first school-age students to complete a collaboration between secondary, further and higher education have graduated from Edinburgh College at its Usher Hall ceremony. 
Twenty-two school pupils successfully took part in the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy programme which has allowed them to leave sixth year with a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Hospitality. 
Ray McCowan, vice principal at Edinburgh College, said: “The model is working, and it’s great to see them come out the other end with the skills, knowledge and confidence that will benefit them whatever they go on to do.”
The academy was launched in 2012 in partnership with Queen Margaret University (QMU), what was then Jewel and Esk College, and East Lothian Council, and worked with students from three local secondaries.
Fifteen of the students have now gone on to study for a degree at QMU, two have gone to Edinburgh College, three have gone to courses at other universities, and two have gone straight into the workplace.
Jake Lavery, 18, is going to university after completing the HNC. “No one from my family has ever been to university and they’re over the moon that I’ve had a chance to go. Without the academy programme, I probably wouldn’t have believed I was university material,” he said.
Following the success of the pilot, three other academies launched last year with a £4.6m award from the Scottish Funding Council, as part of the wider South East Scotland Academies Partnership (SESAP). This expansion has brought an additional 34 schools from across south-east Scotland, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian and Scottish Borders councils, and Borders College.
Education Secretary Michael Russell told the Education and Culture Committee last week further education would play an increasing role in giving vocational options to school-age students, through Modern Apprenticeships and the recommendations of the Wood Commission. “Clearly the FE system has a major role to play in delivering those vocational qualifications,” he said.

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