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Highlanders' just rewards

Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, has discussed the need to appreciate success beyond academic achievement, mentioning examples such as the ASDAN accreditation of the Prince's Trust xl scheme.

Indeed, he has called for these non-academic achievements to be recognised in the national qualifications framework. Unfortunately, this will come too late for seven youngsters at Kinlochbervie High.

In The TESS, September 29, it was reported that of 800 pupils who followed the ASDAN route for accreditation in the UK, only 26 achieved gold awards.

Six came from Kinlochbervie, the other pupil in the group achieving a bronze. In other words, almost a quarter of the pupils who achieved gold nationally came from our corner of the Highlands, a wonderful achievement of which they should be proud.

It certainly wasn't easy. Many people did not understand the relevance or point of this alternative curriculum where pupils undertake activities in enterprise, citizenship, community awareness and the world of work, as well as interpersonal and team skills.

They had to contend with a mixed response to their work and participation in the xl project. Some perceived it to be a reward for bad behaviour, suggesting that we were pandering to their poor attitudes and that they were getting "outings" or opportunities that well-behaved children were not getting.

This manifested itself in negative comments directly and indirectly to the youngsters. People refused to buy their calendar (made as part of their enterprise project) to show their disapproval.

This project was seen as a soft option because it was not accredited and there was no subject content. And, as a result of our remoteness, my group of youngsters, who were part of the first cohort to take part in the xl programme in Scotland, had few opportunities to compare their work with other clubs. When they got their gold awards, neither they nor the community appreciated what they had achieved.

It was only through external moderation and my feedback that they got any idea of the value and quality of their work.

So it's splendid to see that this qualification is now going to get the recognition it deserves, allowing these youngsters to see that they not only shone nationally in their achievements, but that their qualification was worthwhile.

Rebecca Machin Kinlochbervie High

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