Learning steps up a gear for Highland schools

INVERNESS pupils (left to right) Phil Brooks from Culloden Academy, Darren Mackie of Inverness High and Gareth McEwan of Inverness Royal Academy are among youngsters from the city who are being given special leave to go to college to take Highers where there is insufficient demand in their own schools to provide them.

In the latest link between schools and colleges, Inverness College and Highland Council believe they are embarking on a ground-breaking initiative because of the range of Highers on offer at the college, from psychology to automotive engineering. The scheme gets under way in May.

Jacqui Hepburn, development manager at Inverness College (pictured), said:

"This is a trailblazing partnership with Highland Council and our college is looking to cater for this specialist niche by committing resources to group enough pupils together to give them the facility of taking their Highers."

The arrangement will be on offer to the 12 secondary schools within travelling distance of the college. "Our discussions with the education authority have been extremely positive and suggest that the numbers will be there to run a series of Highers classes on a scale not readily available in Scotland," Ms Hepburn said.

Richie Cunningham, rector of Inverness High who chairs the planning group for the initiative, said: "The college's provision of courses not normally offered in schools will broaden choices for senior pupils. We also hope it will promote the transition from school to further education."

Bruce Robertson, Highland's director of education, praised Inverness College's contribution. "This is very much linked to the flexibility in the curriculum policy," Mr Robertson said.

Highland also plans to join the ranks of authorities linking schools and colleges to help meet local skills shortages, moves already under way in Glasgow and Dundee. The authority is to run vocational courses from S3 next session to address acute manpower problems in the Dounreay area, involving North Highland College, Wick and Farr secondaries and the Dounreay nuclear plant.

* Aberdeen College is stepping up links with schools, but it is the lecturers who are on the move: they will deliver Higher courses for fifth and sixth-year pupils in psychology, philosophy, sociology, media studies, Spanish and the European Computer Driving Licence. Nine of the city's 12 secondary schools are involved.

The college also lays on Advanced Higher courses in accounting and finance, French and German.

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