2 December 2016
Junior masterchefs and future hospitality stars from local schools got a taste of the pressure cooker atmosphere of fine dining as they prepared and served a three-course meal to their headteachers at Edinburgh College.
The 15 senior pupils from Edinburgh and Lothians schools – all studying on the South East Scotland Academies Partnership programme – were catering the launch event of the academies' new curriculum.
The academies – a joint project set up by Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University, local authorities and industry - give pupils the chance to study at college and university as well as experience the workplace while they are still at school. Previously, the full academies programmes were for two years. From now, each programme will take one year, offering more flexibility to students and opportunities to experience different industries.
The changes were announced at the curriculum launch dinner at Edinburgh College's eh15 training restaurant at its Milton Road Campus. Students on the Hospitality and Tourism Academy – one of the three academies in the programme – get to use the industry-standard restaurant facilities to hone their cookery and hospitality skills and cook for guests.
The fifth group of academies students began this year, with the other academies covering Creative Industries and Health and Social Care. The programme now has 34 schools from across Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders, and partners include Borders College, local authorities and businesses. Students aged between 15 and 18 can study at an academy during their senior school years, supporting their transition between school, further and higher education, and the workplace. This boosts their career options and employability, and they can also earn an industry-recognised qualification while still at school.
The change from two-year programmes to one year means that students can learn more flexibly and have more choice as to how they spend their two final senior years. They can gain the full academy experience in just one year, still having time to concentrate on their final years at school, or they can experience two different academies during S5 and S6.
Jon Buglass, assistant principal at Edinburgh College, said: "The academies have now given many students opportunities to get lots of practical experience and knowledge from their time at college, university and on placement with employers. We've reviewed what students and schools want from the academies, and the new one-year programme will make it an even more attractive option to get a head starts towards education and careers.
"The meal the students prepared and served for us at the launch really was excellent and shows just how much they've learned in a short time. Getting to work in a professional environment and being responsible for feeding people with high standards could be daunting but this shows that the method works, that giving young people these kinds of opportunities allows them to thrive."
Jon added that the project pre-empted the objectives of the government's Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme and, along with a range of other initiatives, is delivering on the national aims and targets of DYW.
Dr Richard Butt, deputy principal at Queen Margaret University, said: "Responding to industry need and the demand from school pupils, we will now include the study of events management within the Hospitality and Tourism Academy. QMU has an international reputation in events management. We are pleased that academy students will now be able to gain the skills and experience of this growing global industry, an area which is currently not normally available via the school curriculum."