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Two female school pupils stand alongside the school's silver SCQF School Ambassador plaque

Queen Margaret Academy is a Catholic school in Ayr, Ayrshire, writes Connor Oates, PT Employability & Developing the Young Workforce at QMA.

The school has a Support for Learning Centre. It also has a changing demographic and the number of pupils who come from a deprived background is increasing. Eight per cent of our school is care experienced and a significant number have additional support needs.

The Senior Leadership Team at QMA has a sound understanding of the SCQF and the five pillars which support the Ambassador programme. We are taking a whole school approach, there is widespread pupil awareness and parental engagement with the SCQF is well established.

There are pathways progressions in our curriculum and beyond, and we have developed external relationships which support our pupils’ learning.

We achieved SCQF Silver Ambassador recognition in October 2022.

During the last few years, we have introduced a raft of new qualifications to the school, including:

  • SfW Sport and Recreation Level 5
  • Level 5 Sports Leader
  • Level 6 Sports Leader
  • Level 6 Employability and Enterprise
  • NPA Level 6 Travel and Tourism
  • NPA Level 5 Photography
  • SfW Travel and Tourism Levels 4 & 5
  • SfW Health Sector
  • SfW Retail Levels 4 & 5
  • Young Leaders Award (sportscotland)
  • Fundamentals of Handball Level 1
  • Tennis Leaders Award
  • Level 5 Essential Skills
  • Saltire Award
  • Caritas Award
  • REHIS Food Hygiene Award Level 5
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award

We have developed a number of subject pathways maps, like the one below for PE, which are displayed in every department in the school.

A diagram showing the different PE course options for pupils in all year groups

We also offer 6 innovative projects which provide a pathway to these qualifications:

  • Barista with N5 Retail (Pupil Support), Level 4 Barista Skills and Level 4 Customer Services
  • Nail Bar with N5 Retail (ICT/Business)
  • Attainment for pupils (SQA units, Wider Achievement etc.)
  • Bike Maintenance (for S3 only)

The Support for Learning Centre offers Smoothie Making and Garden Café, with 10 pupils in each. Staff from Ayrshire College come in to work with these cohorts on employability skills and we are wanting to bundle this up with more accreditation. One of our Depute Head Teachers is looking at curricular areas to enhance opportunities for formal recognition.

These include: Sports Academy N5 Sport and Rec, Levels 5/6 Sports Leader, Young Leaders award (sportscotland), Fundamentals of Handball Level 1, Tennis Leaders award, multi-skills award and the disability inclusion award at Level 6.

Promoting our work

We deliver presentations on the SCQF at senior phase options evening.

We also use our DYW Instagram page to reach our followers on social media. Our SCQF Ambassadors produce and share videos on this platform.

In addition, we have a DYW podcast which is published on Spotify.

Local partnerships

We have partnered with Ayrshire College to deliver a bike maintenance programme to selected S3 pupils at SCQF level 4, leading to Skills for Work Automotive at SCQF levels 4 and 5. This is an established pathway between school and college and some of our pupils go on to study the IMI Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles at SCQF level 6 as a post-school option.

As Prestwick Airport is on our doorstep, our young people have the opportunity to attend career events held at the airport and we have built relationships with many of the employers based there, including Ryanair and GE Caledonian. Our aim is to grow the possible pathways available in this exciting sector over the next few years.  

The school has three annual Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) days in which we invite partners into the school to deliver a careers fair, mock interviews, information on apprenticeships and application and personal statement writing.

We have also developed a bank of ‘Pathfinders’ which are partners from our local community (including parents) from a wide range of careers that all teaching staff can access to make curricular links. The Pathfinders lead workshops in school, give virtual workplace tours, offer work placements, provide Q&A sessions and set tasks for classes.

We now have an annual partner meeting where we invite all partners who have an input into our curriculum when we develop our DYW calendar for the following year to enable them to contribute where they feel appropriate.

We are currently working on a multi-agency approach to alleviating community poverty and will be utilising the SCQF to do this. Watch this space!

The SCQF programme has given me so much more confidence when speaking in front of people – Niamh C

Being an SCQF Ambassador has really made me feel like a leader in the school – Lucy B

Former pupils said:

I now know how much choice is out there for me – Annie C

It was really helpful knowing the pathways in the school – Holly C

We hope to achieve our Gold Ambassador status this year as we appoint our third cohort of SCQF Ambassadors. The school continues to develop our pathways and we are now working to create a parent SCQF/DYW working group.

The school’s journey with the SCQF so far has been a brilliant experience. We are very excited to continue to embed the five pillars within our school community and place this at the heart of learning.

Find out more about Bronze, Silver and Gold SCQF School Ambassador recognition.

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