At Johnstone High School, we take great pride in knowing every individual learner. We value, support, and challenge each pupil to ensure they maximise their potential. Johnstone High School is a truly inclusive school that is committed to meeting the needs of all young people in its community. Through strong partnership working, our pupils play a key role in many events, experiences, and activities throughout our local community.
We have found since joining the SCQF School Ambassador Programme, we have been able to create a curriculum with a comprehensive range of courses at all levels reflecting our ever-changing world. Our aim at Johnstone High School is to provide a curriculum that stimulates and encourages young people to achieve success.
Along with academic attainment and achievement, we at Johnstone High School place the personal development of all young people very highly. Our core values of: Determination, Friendship, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility and Trust support pupils from S1 to S6 to engage with activities both inside and outside the classroom, allowing them to develop skills such as creative thinking, communication, teamwork, enterprise, and leadership.
We are ambitious and aspirational for our young people, highlighted in our pupil-created motto of ‘Success – Nothing Less’. Many of our pupils move on to a variety of positive destinations including, University and Higher Education, Further Education, Modern Apprenticeships, or into a range of employment pathways in Renfrewshire and beyond. By embracing the SCQF Ambassador Programme we have been able to support our young people in finding their own path to success.
Our SCQF Journey began in late 2021 when we signed on to the SCQF School Ambassador Programme and established our SCQF Ambassador team. This saw the creation of our pupil team and a small staff team who were focused on improving awareness of the SCQF and improving opportunities and pathways for learners across our school community.
We also began the process of exploring wider curricular options and planning our journey to implementation whilst sharing our goals with learners, staff, and parents/carers. This initial foundation work saw us quickly gaining our Bronze Ambassador Status, and this allowed us to build towards our Gold Status.
We have focused on embedding our SCQF awareness at three main levels: staff, learners, and the wider school community. This has involved a range of activities throughout the year, in school, at events, and online.
The first step was to train our new members of the Pupil Ambassador Team; this was done with the support of our returning Senior Ambassadors. All of the Ambassadors actively engaged in their training day and left with a strong understanding of the SCQF and their role in supporting their school in our journey.
Our staff have been included in training as a whole staff group and this has been furthered by the implementation of our working group, creating Staff Ambassadors across the school. This has allowed for sharing of good practice and the promotion of SCQF language and new curricular offerings. This has seen staff becoming more open to a wider range of SCQF accredited courses beyond the more traditional National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher offering.
Our Pupil Ambassador Team has been supporting both their peers across S1-3 and also in the Senior Phase with their own knowledge and understanding of the SCQF, by attending community events, and by creating a video resource to support the subject options process.
We have also been fortunate enough to have been given opportunities to share our SCQF approach and curriculum design across the Local Authority, having been recognised as an example of good practice in Renfrewshire.
Improving our communication about the SCQF with our full school community has been a key improvement driver for this session, and our Pupil Ambassador Team has taken the lead. To support parent/carer knowledge and understanding, the team has been at all parents’ evenings and events with their SCQF display stand to promote and discuss the SCQF as well as how we engage with it in our school.
We also hosted a Family Learning Evening, where we had a selection of learning sessions parents/carers could choose from such as: Introduction to the SCQF, Modern Apprenticeships, and Wider Achievement. This allowed us to share information about the SCQF and how parents/carers can support learners in their chosen pathways. Our Ambassadors taking the lead in these events has seen them building positive relationships with the community whilst sharing information on a more personal level, meaning more candid conversations can take place about specific pupil experiences.
The Ambassadors have also been working with the staff team to upload SCQF information to our school website to ensure the wider school community has access to this information.
To further this work, they have also created two video presentations, one with the focus on our school journey with SCQF, and another more tailored video to support learners and parents/carers during the subject options process. These have been used in PSE classes as part of option discussions and are also on our school website.
Since joining the SCQF Ambassador Programme we have been developing our curriculum rationale to meet the needs of our learners and embed the principles of the SCQF. This has seen a focus on widening our curricular offer and partnership working to complement our existing options process. Our options process includes a “mock options” activity where learners are given a “free choice” of all the SCQF courses we have available, so that the curricular offer can be tailored to the learners each year. Once this process is completed, we use the outcome to create that year’s options columns, from which learners can choose their final options.
This has seen our staff feeling empowered to seek out and develop other SCQF courses, providing our Senior Phase learners with a wider and more varied curricular offer. It has also had the positive impact of a broader experience and view of available pathways supporting them in identifying their own SCQF pathway.
This session’s curricular offer includes courses at SCQF levels 4, 5, 6 & 7 including National Progression Awards, Skills for Work Awards, Personal Development Awards, National Qualifications and Foundation Apprenticeships. We have also worked with our college and consortia partners to offer an enhanced range of qualifications outwith our school.
We have found that by committing to our SCQF journey we have gained many positive outcomes, for staff, parents/carers but most notably for our learners. The Ambassadors have gained leadership opportunities, confidence and a deeper involvement in their school community. Similarly, all of our learners have benefited from our wider curricular offer and pathways which will support them in accessing a positive destination beyond school.
Below are some quotes from our learners who have been actively engaged with the programme, and those who have benefited from our curriculum changes:
“I feel that being an SCQF Ambassador is beneficial to the pupils of Johnstone High School as the practical experience/qualification they receive can be more applicable to them for certain job/careers- i.e. the skills required in Practical Cake Craft could be carried over to a variety of roles that require fine motor skills and a keen eye for detail (like dentistry).
Staying on for a second year allowed me to help train future Ambassadors which hopefully should enrich and sustain the program within the school for longer."
Josh McMillan S6
"In the past I had never taken any interest in Technical subjects but I find the jewellery making course to be different and more engaging. It doesn't have the stress of exams and I feel as though I can work at my own pace to achieve the standard I want and feel more productive. I've learned many new skills since taking this course and feel that I've come very far in terms of my jewellery making techniques since beginning the course.”
Isla Fawcett S6
"The Customer Services course has been amazing this year, it helped me gain a job and understand how to handle situations all on my own. It has greatly boosted my confidence and understanding in the workplace and I 100% think it should be a necessary course to prepare pupils for going into the working world."
Tyler Wilkie S5
"I chose Scottish Studies because I have always been interested in other Social Subjects and Scottish Studies combined them all. In Scottish Studies, I have enjoyed doing a variety of tasks such as research, posters etc. as it makes sure it is interesting. I liked the Mary Queen of Scots unit the most as it looked at her life in detail."
Abbie Clark S6
Having completed a full session from our initial SCQF launch and as we enter into our second options process, we have been able to develop our curricular approach further. Our dynamic approach to our curricular offer to meet the needs of all learners and ensure alignment with learner-stated post-school pathways. As a result of strong working relationships with our Partners, we hope to further develop more areas of our curriculum and most significantly, within the Broad General Education S1-3. Finally, we hope to strengthen our work with the SCQF Ambassador Programme, continuing to share our journey and support others in their SCQF journey across our Local Authority and beyond.
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