Hospitality and Tourism Academy

East Lothian Council’s  Education and Children’s Services Department, Jewel And Esk College, and Queen Margaret University have been jointly exploring the possibility of establishing a Hospitality and Tourism Academy for young people aged 14 – 18.
The concept is based upon the Engineers of the Future, which was a college, university, employer partnership with a view to promoting engineering as a career and  engineering qualifications ranging from vocational to higher academic levels.
Hospitality and Tourism are key growth industries within East Lothian and are currently  two of the most likely destinations for young people leaving school. Jewel and Esk College and Queen Margaret University specialise in offering Higher National Qualifications and under graduate and post graduate courses in specific and associated fields of study.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council have prioritised the need for links to be established between schools and the Further Education and Higher Education sectors. The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence guidelines require all schools to make positive changes to their curriculum at all levels, with a particular focus upon making the senior phase more related to employability and lifelong learning. Those priorities, together with the More Choices More Chances agenda for promoting positive destinations for all school leavers, combine to provide a unique alignment of circumstances for partners in our respective fields to collaborate in finding new ways of delivering and connecting learning experiences for young people.
Our plan is to combine three elements for the Academy: vocational, business, and academic. These aspects are not hierarchical but are rather inter-related, i.e. a person can be working on a single aspect, work through from one aspect to another, or combine two or three of the aspects at any one time.
The Academy will have 45 students in a single cohort, made up of 15 students from each of the three schools serving the areas of highest levels of multiple deprivation in East Lothian. Within each cohort one third will be focusing upon vocational routes, one third on business, and one third on academic.
The Academy will have three year group cohorts :Year 1 equivalent to S4 (15/16 year olds); Year 2 – S5 (16/17 year olds); and Year 3 (17/18 year olds). Graduation from the Academy can occur at the conclusion of any one year.
Access to the Academy will be open to any student attending any of the three schools within the prototype programme. Students and their parents will be introduced to the Academy at the end of S2 and invited to apply to join the application year programme. This programme will involve students attending three evening sessions over the course of the coming year, one at a hub school; one at the college and one at the university. In addition they will have their commitment to personal study, academic progress and any work experience monitored throughout the year. A final interview at the end of S3 will select the 15 students from each school, with the proportions following the previously explained vocational, business, and academic criteria. The most important selection criterion will be evidence of personal commitment, e.g. attendance, timekeeping, dedication to a personal interest.
The Academy curriculum will be a combination of existing school-based courses which can be related to hospitality and tourism, and some compulsory and elective units which will be delivered in the evening at nominated schools, the college, or university. We have considered the possibility of offering some courses before the start of the school day, thereby reflecting some of the realities of working in the industry and also maximising the assets in our schools.
As students progress through the Academy we will seek to enhance their school curriculum with college, or university based courses/modules, with a greater proportion of their time being spent outside school as they progress.
Of course, one of the vital elements missing from this description relates to the role of employers and the world of work. Our intention is to form strategic partnerships with a number of prestige companies involved in the hospitality and tourism industry. Through linking with their training divisions and drawing upon their expertise we would intend to create a very high quality learning experience which will be worthwhile in it’s own right, regardless of a student’s eventual employment destination, but also one which is eventually seen to be a of high regard by future employers in the industry.
We would see work experience to be a fundamental part of the Academy programme with the hope that some students will eventually graduate into full time employment with some of the placement employers.
Our next steps are to continue with our deliberations and seek to establish partnerships with employers to involve them in the design phase. In addition we will work with the Funding Council, the Scottish Government and local individuals. Our strategic steering team will be complemented by an operational group who will work out the details of the programme, consult with young people, parents and employers, and prepare for the first cohort to commence in September 2012.
We see the benefit of this project to extend beyond those who might participate. By establishing strong links between schools, the college and university, and employers we begin to create a new form of learning experience for young people and explore new forms of collaborative delivery which blurs the distinctions between providers and employers. By creating a motivated group of students, who have a strong commitment to personal learning within and beyond school, we shall create a group who will influence others by their behaviour.
Finally, the Academy concept has the potential to be replicated in other schools and in other fields of study and industry, which may reflect local opportunities and connections.

Microfinance: supporting social enterprise for student and community benefit


Option 29 described in the curriculum for excellence senior phase post was described simply as: Establish a microfinance investment fund for student application.

I’ve been asked by a number of people to explain what I meant by this and how it might work.

This option has a number of threads but the starting point is founded upon a perceived need to encourage students to actively create social enterprises which will benefit their communities, and in turn,themselves.

The idea is not new and is rooted in the Grameen Bank  concept, although with more of a focus upon community benefit and personal/group development, rather than tackling poverty. The scheme should certainly tackle some of the symptoms of poverty within communities.


The concept is based upon the establishment of a microfinance fund using donations from local business people and other sources – councils included.  This money would be placed in a trust to which students, or other members of a community, could submit an application for a micro loan which would allow them to establish and develop their social enterprise. The only stipulation – aside from the viability of the plan – would be that the proposal must have a direct benefit to their local community.

An example we have been developing relates to an Elders Buddy Scheme. Let’s say that a student (or students) at the school applies to the fund for an interest free loan to set up the buddy scheme, which will involve families or individuals paying a minimal fee for a young person to spend 5 hours week making an evening home visit to an elderly person. The social entrepreneur/s, would use the loan – to a maximum £1000 – to pay for advertising, information materials, recruitment, training, disclosure fees, and other costs.

The microfinance fund would seek to provide additional support through a business /community mentor and a further network of relevant contacts  and fellow social entrepreneurs.

Areas of possible community benefit include; early years and child care; elderly care; youth programmes; disability support; and environment.

Obviously there are numerous working details missing from this description but in order to keep this post brief and to the point I’ll focus upon the benefits to the indviduals and the community they inhabit, and the possible problems.

Here’s a list of possible benefits:

  1. Young people are introduced to the world of work and enterprise in a real and meaningful manner.
  2. Communituties would benefit from the services provided.
  3. Experience in developing and running a social enterprise would be highly regarded on applications for employment or further/higher education.
  4. Young people develop real experience in financial management.
  5. It gives meaning to other academic studies as they become contextualised in a world of work and social duty.
  6. If  recognised as part of a young person’s senior phase curriculum it would enhance and  deepen that experience.
  7. It would promote comunity engagement and awareness of young people with/about their community.
  8. It woukd raise the positive profile of young people in their communities.
  9. Encourages young people to take the next step into running businesses for themselves.
  10. Promotes and entrepreneurial spirit in a community/school.

And possible problems:

  1. Loans are not repaid
  2. Enterprises collapse as young people leave their communities for further study or employment
  3. Services to vulnerable groups are not sustained
  4. Existing services with full time employees are placed at risk due to competition.
  5. Schools do not recognise the value of the scheme and only allow high achieving students to particpate or do not facilitate time  for involvement.
  6. The scheme does not offer sufficient support in the initial stages
  7. The bureaucracy of the application process is too off putting and complex.
  8. Funding is too short term.
  9. Insufficient number of financial backers.
  10. Works only in areas of high net worth and not in communites which might really benefit.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Further reading:

What can social finance learn from microfinance

Social innovation

Peer to peer microfinance for young people

Youth enterprise

Microcredit for young entrepreneurs

Do we really want to promote enterprise?

“How many students who participate in “enterprise activities” go on to become entrepreneurs?”

So I was asked this week. It stumped me for a while but it set off a line of thought which I wanted to explore. It seems that Enterprise in Education has been around ever since the Margaret Thatcher set up TVEI in 1982, whilst Young Enterprise goes back even further to the early 60’s. 

One of the implicit outcomes of such schemes is that they will encourage an entrepreneurial mentality and generate economic benefits to society.  However, I can find no evidence that any of these have directly resulted in more entrepreneurs or growth in the economy – although I invite anyone to correct that assertion.

Looking back over the last 20 years education has successfully turned the rather offensive idea of wealth creation into a more educationally acceptable activity which is about promoting enterprising attitudes – an outcome much more palatable to the sensitivities of those of us in education. The two graphics linked to this post perhaps characterise the fears that many teachers have had about promoting capitalism in schools, i.e. greed, selfishness and a focus on money at the expense of all else.

I wanted to consider how things might be different if we were more explicit about the outcomes of “enterprise” in schools. What if we really did encourage children to set up businesses which were focussed on making money – which the child kept? What if we found ways of supporting them with loans and advice about how to make more money from their ideas? Imagine a 13 year old who sets up her own dog walking business in a town and receives financial support and advice to get her idea off the ground.

I love the idea behind the Grameen Bank established in Bangladesh:

Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity.

Could we establish a Scottish version of such a scheme where young people could access loans to set up their own company? Could Tom Hunter take the place of Muhammad Yunus in an enterprising Scotland?

Perhaps its just me but I think such an opportunity would have excited me as a teenager.

Linking Learning and Teaching, and Enterprise


One of the consequences of national initiatives such as Determined to Succeed is that they can appear to be divorced from the day-to-day learning and teaching process.

I went along today to present the Oscars for an ICT and Enterprise event.  It’s at events such as these where we see the natural interface between enterprising classroom approaches and learning and teachng.

Scott Lavery – our Determined to Succeed Officer – describes on his blog a very exciting project taking place at Wallyford Primary School.

“The P7’s now have a number of projects running in class which they have responsibility for and also which incorporate elements of AiFL and CfE.  The children themselves were extremely positive and motivated by the tasks which in turn kept them focused on their work.  In addition, each child in the class set their own goals which they are working towards in class which related to one or more of the 4 Capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.”

Scott is to be congratulated for reinforcing the classroom appplications of enterprising approaches.

Determined to Succeed?

Determined to Succeed

Determined to Succeed is the Scottish Executive’s strategy for delivering enterprise in education. It aims to help Scotland’s young people develop self-confidence, self-reliance and ambition to achieve their goals – in work and in life.

I was delighted to learn that an extra £1 million of funding for enterprise education was announced today as a report on the first three years of the Executive’s Determined to Succeed programme showed that a record number of pupils are involved in enterprise learning.

Our own Determined to Succeed programme championed by Scott Lavery is having a significant impact upon the experience of young people in East Lothian – as even a cursory review of both of these links will show – so I’m confident we can put additional money to good use.

And so it was today that I had a conversation about whether or not the initiative is missing out on a key group – teachers.

The focus of the programme “aims to help Scotland’s young people develop self-confidence, self-reliance and ambition to achieve their goals – in work and in life.” Where it mentions teachers it descibes the development of enterprising approaches to learning and teaching.  But I wonder why we don’t explicitly say we want to create enterprising and entrepreneuriual teachers and educational leaders – which might even lead to a more enterprising Scottish educational system?

The Hunter Foundation Partnership are investing in a range of events aimed at supporting teacher and leader development, but the conversation that I had today asked if we, as educationalists, had something to learn about how how to run our business from entrepreneurs themselves – not just from them investing in our development?

I’ve explored this issue before on this log but it’s definitely something I’d like to follow up.