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Skills in how to become employable

Senior pupils at St David's High in Dalkeith are developing employ-ability skills and trying out vocational options as part of a new course devised by the school.

The Empower Programme helps pupils to develop interview techniques, team-working, communication, leadership and presentation skills. At the same time they can learn about a variety of industries and related jobs.

The course was first introduced last session to S5 and S6. It was fully timetabled, with four and a half hours a week - the same as maths, English or any traditionally certificated course. Thirty pupils enrolled, and many indicated they would have liked to choose it earlier. So this year, the school extended it to 12 S3 pupils.

"The course has both core and elective elements," explains headteacher Marion Docherty. "The core elements include self-esteem, confidence, employability. It includes partnership with employers to help with interview skills. For the elective elements, pupils can choose vocational options that wouldn't typically be offered in the school curriculum."

Radio broadcasting, DVD production, sound engineering, theatre and sport instruction are all available. Pupils can follow a young sports leader award or choose music and drama units. Radio broadcasting skills units are run in partnership with a local radio station, while pupils can be involved in running the school's record company. Drama units appeal to those interested in set production or public speaking.

"The programme is co-delivered by staff from PE, drama, music and the senior management team," explains Mrs Docherty. "It is inter-departmental, so it lives very much within A Curriculum for Excellence. A key part of it is community challenges, so that supports citizenship."

The course has been commended by HMIE as an example of good practice in its report on the school, published this week.

"The inspectorate saw that it is multi-departmental, it involves external agencies, it is time-tabled and it is unit-based," says Mrs Docherty.

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