Academy recruits Skill Force team

8th July 2005 at 01:00
Trinity Academy in Edinburgh has become the first school to independently enlist Skill Force, the initiative that uses former Armed Forces instructors to provide an alternative curriculum for challenging students.

Trinity will join four education authorities: South Lanarkshire, Moray, Stirling and Falkirk, which have also drafted in the service, next month.

South Lanarkshire, Stirling and Falkirk are to follow the pattern set in North Lanarkshire, where a successful pilot funded by the Scottish Executive and the Ministry of Defence has been running since 2001, with the Skill Force teams working across clusters of three or four secondary schools.

Moray has recruited two teams to work across seven of its eight schools.

Alistair Farquhar, the council's head of education resource services, said:

"Our eighth school already has a flexible and innovative programme of vocational education and we didn't want to duplicate that. But the other seven will benefit from the service, which will allow training in life and vocational skills."

Skill Force will provide an alternative, vocational-based option to a Standard grade in S3 and S4, mostly for pupils who have become, or are at risk of becoming, disengaged from school.

At Trinity, the pattern will be different, and will give the initiative an opportunity to further cast off its boot camp image.

James Cant, Skill Force business development manager, said: "Having a team working in a single school is a departure from the norm on our part.

"But Peter Galloway, rector at Trinity, and his team have been so keen and committed. He is so determined to provide opportunities for all types of student."

Before the end of term, Skill Force began a leadership project for 60 prefects, which will continue through the next academic year. It has also recruited S3 and S4 pupils to do vocational training; and it will be working with Trinity's feeder schools to prepare P7 pupils for secondary school.

Mr Galloway said: "The introduction of the Skill Force programme has the potential to have a marked effect on the traditional curriculum, which has proved inappropriate for a significant number of Scottish pupils."

Skill Force is keen for the Trinity project to expand to other schools in the Edinburgh area by August 2006.

The pilot period, and the Scottish Executive's funding, in North Lanarkshire has now finished, but its success has led the authority to incorporate the initiative into mainstream education.

Of those pupils participating, 100 per cent achieved an ASDAN vocational bronze award, 83 per cent ASDAN silver, 82 per cent the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, 92 per cent St Andrews first aid and 78 per cent junior sports leader.

"We continue to be most impressed by the impact of Skill Force on the achievements of young people in North Lanarkshire," said John O'Keane, head of quality development at the council's education department.

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