THE SCHOOLS of Ambition programme has almost doubled in size and this time much of the focus is on the Neet group.
Last week, the Scottish Executive announced that 27 schools would join the programme, which helps turn struggling schools around but also funds high performers. Each successsful bid will receive pound;300,000 over three years.
The new participants, among 55 schools now involved, include six Glasgow secondaries aiming to prevent their lowest-performing pupils from falling into the category of those not in education, employment or training.
The Glasgow schools - Drumchapel High, Eastbank Academy, Govan High, Hillhead High, Rosshall Academy and St Andrew's Secondary - will benefit from advice from Sir Tom Hunter, whose Hunter Foundation will contribute pound;300,000. The remainder of the pound;1.8 million in Glasgow will be provided by the executive and the city council.
First Minister Jack McConnell, during a visit to Eastbank Academy, said that to prevent young people entering the Neet group, work had to be done before they reached 16 and should be suited to pupils' ambitions, regardless of whether they were academically-minded.
Sir Tom echoed that view: "This is an education system born out of Victorian times. We need to change it." He hopes careers services can improve in schools and HM Inspectorate of Education and others recognise that success should not be measured by exams alone.
Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, stressed that "this is not a private sector takeover, but the private sector helping".
Others joining and their initiatives:
Alford Academy Enterprise and creativity
Auchenharvie Academy Health education
Carrick Academy Leadership and life skills
Charleston Academy Sport
Alloa, Alva Lornshill academies Vocational opportunities and enterprise
Gracemount High Links between schools and colleges
Kilsyth Academy Art and creativity
Kirkcaldy High Widening subject and vocational opportunities
Lanark Learning Community ICT
Nicolson Institute Gaelic media studies
Orkney secondary schools Curriculum review and e-twinning
Renfrew High Pupil participation in learning
Rothesay Academy Learning skills and pupil support
St Stephen's High, Port Glasgow High Leadership and well-being Taylor High ICT
Queensferry High Leadership development