Crieff High School is a 6 year non-denominational school within Perth & Kinross with a current roll of 601 pupils. We have a rural location and serve a wide range of young people from SIMD 3 - 10. Within our school roll we also have an enhanced provision programme. Most young people undertake a range of qualifications from SCQF levels 3 – 7, however, some of our young people are also supported to gain qualifications at SCQF levels 1 & 2.
Our journey in the SCQF School Ambassadors Programme started in May 2021 when Donnie Wood met virtually with the Senior Leadership Team to receive training on the SCQF and the Ambassador programme. Our SLT identified very quickly that the work and progress to pupil pathways already undertaken clearly fitted in with the Ambassador Programme and we joined as the 132nd school in the SCQF School Ambassador Programme.
In Perth & Kinross for session 2021 there was funding made available for the role of ‘Widening Subject Choice’ within each secondary school setting. In August 2021, at the start of the new term, I started the widening subject choice role, which has been funded as 0.2fte. One focus of this role is to look to understand and create a range of pathways specific to the individual settings and the communities we serve.
My first task was to meet with our Head Teacher to gain a better understanding of the role and any identified outcomes. He identified the SCQF Ambassador programme as a good way to structure developing widening subject choice. I was introduced to the SCQF by undertaking the same training that our SLT had with Donnie Wood. I then started the process of identifying young people to train as Pupil Ambassadors and gathering our evidence needed for the Bronze Ambassador Award.
Firstly, possible pupil ambassadors were identified from young people working towards a range of SCQF level 3 – 7 qualifications specifically National Progression Awards, Skills for Work courses and other wider achievement awards. Of the young people identified and introduced to the SCQF, 13 of those chose to go forward to train as SCQF Pupil Ambassadors.
Pupil Ambassador Profiles were then created to raise awareness of the SCQF with parents at parent information evenings by SLT. These profiles, written by the Ambassadors, shared how they had gained from having a better understanding of the Framework and the pathways on offer at Crieff High School.
Initially there was a focus on S5 & S6 pupils to train as ambassadors. Going forward this will be widened to include young people in S4. The evidence that was gathered across the school for our Bronze Award submission also included inputs from our DYW colleagues, subject departments, and community colleagues such as Duke of Edinburgh Award co-ordinators.
Over the last few years, by introducing National Progression Awards, Crieff High School has looked to widening our offering to young people and highlighting the range of qualifications available out with traditional NQs. Our focus across all levels has been on building the curriculum around the young person and supporting them to succeed.
Gathering evidence for the bronze award highlighted how many opportunities for our young people were already in place. The Ambassador programme offered a way to bring these different strands together to help plan a future curriculum offer that will stay current and relevant to the young people of Crieff High School.
In session 2021/2022, alongside traditional National Qualifications, we have also delivered a range of other qualifications found on the SCQF. These included 8 NPA courses, 4 Skills for Work courses, and SQA accredited Awards including Mental Health & Wellbeing, Employability, Leadership and Personal Finance. These were also further supported by wider achievement options to allow our young people to further develop their skills.
In October 2021 after submitting our gathered evidence, Crieff High School was the 10th school to achieve SCQF Bronze Ambassador School status.
We are currently working towards Silver SCQF Ambassador School status. Part of this process is to further widen the awareness of the SCQF with staff. During the February inset day a presentation on the SCQF and Widening Subject Choice was delivered to school staff.
Here all staff were introduced to the Framework and the new course choice layout being used for session 2022 /2023.
The main change in our course choice was to organise course options into levels instead of qualification type. For example, options to study courses at SCQF levels 3 – 5 were in one section with levels 6 and 7 in separate sections. We also offered further NPAs and qualifications including the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (comparable to SCQF level 5). This qualification gives young people a chance to gain an award which has an immediate and direct link into the world of work.
The way the course choice has been presented has led to a wider range of young people accessing NPA courses and other qualifications than before.
This year we also have a wider college offering with a mix of direct and remote learning options. As a rural school part of the difficulty we have faced is giving pupils access to courses being delivered by our partners without time spent travelling having a negative impact on the qualifications they are achieving on-site.
Understanding the SCQF also allows staff to consider a sometimes slightly different, or side stepped, pathway for a young person. One example from my own curricular area is of a young person, after successfully completing a National 5 qualification, going forward with a level 5 NPA course that has allowed them to build their skills in preparation for Advanced Higher in S6. The Higher course was not the right pathway for this young person, but rather than it being a blockade to their progress we were able to find a pathway to allow the individual to continue their learning, achieve accreditation and move onto the Advanced Higher course at SCQF level 7 which is a qualification, and level, that is right for them in S6.
Every school will have individual stories and situations like this. Understanding the Framework and progression routes allows for schools to find the right and appropriate pathway for the individual.
We have used a variety of different methods to help us adapt the curriculum offer, including pupil voice days. Our pupil voice days are an opportunity for all young people to give their opinions on a range of school development areas including curriculum rationale. The pupil voice days give an opportunity for young people to feed their thoughts and ambitions for both themselves and the school into our planning.
Currently we are working on making pathways more visible to young people and the school community. These visual pathways are an opportunity to spark the discussion of how the SCQF can be used to support a young person on their journey.
I think that a key benefit of the Ambassador programme is that it gives a clear staged framework to allow schools to look at broadening their curriculum offer. That each year the Ambassadors are refreshed as young people move onto the next part of their journey also allows the process to remain current and relevant to the young people we work with.
Another great part of the Ambassador programme is how other schools share how they have chosen to progress. Each setting is of course different, and the needs of the community will vary widely, but seeing how other colleagues are creating and sharing pathways has been inspiring.
At Crieff High School the Ambassador Programme and the Framework have given us a solid base onto which to build and adapt the curricular offer to best serve our young people. The timetable change also allows for the next group of Pupil Ambassadors to be trained so that we continue to raise awareness of the SCQF. Our pupil Ambassadors will continue from the success we have already achieved, making sure young people understand the language of the current curriculum and get help to find the pathway that is right for them.
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