All posts by akerr

Highland Show Visit

In the middle of June the Royal Highland Show took place in Edinburgh, showcasing the best of Scotland’s agriculture. Focusing on rural life, the Highland Show gives visitors the opportunity to take part in workshops, watch shows, listen to music, and eat Scottish food. This year select individuals, in partnership with East Lothian Works, took the opportunity to go along to the world-renowned event to have a look for themselves. Continue reading Highland Show Visit

Tantallon Castle Visit

A group of East Lothian Works’ young people took a trip to Tantallon Castle the other day, giving them the opportunity to visit one of East Lothian’s most iconic landmarks. The trip took place to allow these individuals to expand their knowledge of the local wildlife and local history. The students had a fantastic time on the visit, finding out new information that they didn’t know before. This trip was planned as part of East Lothian Works’ Activity Agreements programme, which aids young people in learning new skills and gaining new experiences.

The young people admiring the view from Tantallon Castle.
The young people admiring the view from Tantallon Castle.

If you’d like to find out more about other activities these young people have experienced, have a read of our photography exhibition post here.

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A Morning at Argyle Bridge Children’s Nursery

The Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services: Children and Young People is one of the most popular frameworks that we provide in East Lothian. It offers students the chance to gain an understanding of childcare, while also gaining real-world experience of working with young people. There may be some Foundation Apprenticeship students wondering where it can take them. There may also be some pupils considering undertaking it, and are unsure of what it will involve. To help find out more, I was lucky enough to get to spend the morning at ABC Nursery to see what their staff members get up to on a typical day. Continue reading A Morning at Argyle Bridge Children’s Nursery

English for Speakers of Other Languages Class

On the Wednesday morning of the 19th of June I was fortunate enough to attend one of East Lothian Council’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class. Run by Andy Stuckey, the lesson took place on the grounds of Musselburgh Burgh Primary School, providing the class with the perfect setting to learn English. Continue reading English for Speakers of Other Languages Class

An Interview with a Foundation Apprentice

Jennifer, a Foundation Apprentice in Financial Services, was kind enough to sit down with me and answer my many questions about her experiences over the past year studying Financial Services. Foundation Apprenticeships allow secondary school students in S4 to S6 gain experience in a work environment while they are still attending school. They can work towards an industry recognised qualification, undergoing a mix of traditional classroom teaching, and real-world workplace experiences. If you’d like to find out more, check out our blog post on Foundation Apprenticeships here.

What made you decide to apply for a Foundation Apprenticeship?
I was interested in what they had to offer. In fourth year I did work experience at Standard Life, which is a financial organisation, and I wanted to know more about it. When they were going through all the courses at college there were lots of choices, like cookery, but financial services caught my eye, because I wanted to get to know more about it, and I’ve actually really enjoyed it. I didn’t know anything about Financial Services before my week of work experience, but I ended up being interested enough to study it further.

Why did you choose Financial Services?
I thought it would give me a good career path, as I think this might be something I want to get into and know more about it. I was really intrigued to find out more, as I did my work experience, but I didn’t fully understand everything they were talking about. Now I think that if I went back I would be able to have a conversation with them and engage more with the work.

How have you found doing a Foundation Apprenticeship?
It’s really good. First year focuses on the theory side of financial services, but it’s not all classroom based. We’ve been to the Museum on the Mound and Black Rock (a corporate business), and we’ve had speakers in to tell us what they’re experiences are in the field.

What has been your favourite part?
I’ve liked being able to meet new people that have the same interest as me.

What has been the most difficult part?
There’s not really been any difficult parts. When I made a mistake I took it in my stride and made it better. Everyone makes mistakes so you just need to learn from it. You won’t get it first time as it’s all new, so the providers aren’t expecting you to know everything.

Did you enjoy doing the placement? Where did you go for it?
I’ve finished my first eight week block of placements at Social Investment Scotland. It’s been really good to put your knowledge that you learn in first year to the test. You’re part of a team in a business and being handed real life work that this organisation is giving you, so you’re really trusted. It’s good to know what you’ll be going out to do after sixth year, so it’s good to have the opportunity to practice before you go and do it yourself.

Would you recommend a Foundation Apprenticeship to other students?
I would recommend a Foundation Apprenticeship as you learn the knowledge and then get to put it to the test.

What advice would you give to anyone about to do a Foundation Apprenticeship?
Stick with it; you get good opportunities from it, so if you’re engaged properly, then you’ll get the satisfaction and the rewards.

Do you know what you want to do when you leave school?
This Foundation Apprenticeship has given me so many opportunities to put me on the right path. if I hadn’t done the Foundation Apprenticeship and you had asked me this question, I would say that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There’s lots of opportunities that have come from this, e.g. the Investment 2020 Programme. If I put in enough effort then maybe Social Investments will keep me on, or I could go on to do a Modern Apprenticeship.

How does doing a Foundation Apprenticeship help you reach those goals?
Foundation Apprenticeships have given me more knowledge of the sector as a whole, as you don’t have to just do finance; you could also do business marketing, for example.

I would like to take the time to thank Jennifer for speaking with me – it is greatly appreciated. I wish her the best of luck with the rest of her studies. If you’re interested in undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship, speak to your guidance teacher for advice and/or an application form. Feel free to send any questions to

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An Interview with a Modern Apprentice

Modern Apprentice Cameron Shaw was kind enough to take time out of his day to answer my many questions I had about him, and his experiences as an apprentice at East Lothian Works. Modern Apprenticeships give those no longer in school the opportunity to earn a wage while also getting an industry-recognised qualification, and invaluable work experience. If you’d like to learn more, check out Skills Development Scotland’s page on Modern Apprenticeships here.

What is your current job role and where do you work?
I am a Modern Apprentice in Business Admin at East Lothian Works; East Lothian Council’s employability hub.

What Modern Apprenticeship did you undertake?
I did the Modern Apprenticeship in Business Administration.

What made you decide to do a Modern Apprenticeship
I wasn’t interested in taking part in further education, and I wanted to get into the world of work. I thought that doing a Modern Apprenticeship would be a good opportunity to do this.

How are you finding the experience?
It’s great – I’m really enjoying it!

What benefits have you found to being a Modern Apprentice?
I like that I can learn while earning money at the same time. I’m also gaining experience which can be valuable in the future.

Are there any disadvantages to doing a Modern Apprenticeship?
I can’t think of any!

What did you do before this?
I was at high school before taking part in the Modern Apprenticeship.

Do you know what you want to do once your Apprenticeship is finished?
I would really like to get  a full-time contract with East Lothian Council to continue doing this line of work.

Do you have anything you would like to say to those continuing undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship?
Definitely go for it! It gets you straight into employment and the work environment.

I would like to take this time to thank Cameron for answering my questions, as I know his schedule is quite busy. It is greatly appreciated!

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Construction Course at Midlothian

A handful of East Lothian students have taken up the opportunity to learn traditional construction skills at a Midlothian-based industrial estate. Said students are new to the course, having only started a week or so ago, and will continue after the summer, but they were kind enough to grant me access into their workshop to get a feel of what they will be learning.

Courses such as construction are offered to East Lothian Council Secondary School students as a way to broaden their horizons and expand their skill set. They allow for students to add experience to their learning, which can be beneficial when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. They also allow for students from different schools to meet and learn together. Other courses available include Higher language courses through open learning, photography, psychology, cookery, and animal care.

Construction students hard at work.

When I arrived, the workshop was rather intimidating. Expanding over several warehouses, each room housed various different pieces of large, imposing machinery that, to a novice, looked very scary! Fortunately, I was met by the lovely staff at the estate, who gave me a tour of the place and made me realise that, with the right health and safety knowledge, the equipment was incredibly safe.

It was clear from the very beginning that health and safety was at the forefront of the course. As soon as the students arrived they began with some exercises related to identifying risks within the workplace in the construction industry. It was reassuring to see the emphasis placed on this important subject matter. After the safety session had ended, students split into two different groups. The first team were working on scale. They were tasked with looking at a drawing, and then translating it into smaller and larger versions of the picture, focusing on maintaining said scale. I was incredibly impressed with the work the students had done, having only had a week or so to work on them. It was clear they had a real knack for this work.

The class have been working on scale drawings.

I then moved on to the second team. Their work was emphasising construction. The group seemed to be working on small chimney-like structures. They had previously been focusing on cutting pieces of wood down to scale and putting them together, and were now painting and sanding their finished products. Once again I was incredibly impressed with the quality of work that had been done in such a short space of time.

The evolution of a chimney.

After having a quick discussion with the members of staff there, it was clear that this construction facility was a large production. Not only housing these construction students, the staff also work with primary school pupils in their bike workshops, and work with adults on more advanced construction techniques. It was impressive to see how they were able to adapt activities to suit each age group, without restricting the students from getting hands-on experience with the equipment.

I wish the construction students all the best with the rest of their studies after the summer, and I hope to see their finished pieces at some point also. I’d like to thank everyone at the Construction facility for having me for the morning; it is greatly appreciated.

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Skills for Work Learners Celebrate Success!

Last week, Edinburgh College and East Lothian Works staff joined adult learners to celebrate their achievements, completing qualifications in Early Learning & Childcare, and in Health & Social Care. Collaborating with Edinburgh College, East Lothian Works runs the Skills for Work programme that these learners engaged with, building the skills, experience, and confidence to pursue new careers in Early Years, or Health & Social Care settings.

David Dalgleish (Skills for Work Development at East Lothian Works) was there to join in the celebration with graduates, commenting:
“It is so rewarding to see our learners grow in confidence and develop throughout their time with us, as their learning journey takes them to their next stage; whether it’s further study, work, or volunteering”.

Our introductory courses in Early Learning & Childcare, and Health & Social Care are now enrolling again, ahead of the programme restarting at the end of August. Running on term-time Monday mornings, your studies can fit in with your busy life; there’s lots of additional employability support on offer, plus help with travel costs and free crèche places also. To find out more, call 01620 827 262, or email

I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to these learners for all their effort, and for achieving their goals!

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‘It’s Alright’ Photography Exhibition

On the 14th of June, a group of young people arrived at Prestongrange Museum to showcase their photography to East Lothian residents. These individuals have been working throughout the year on their photography skills, aided by Room 8 Studio photographer Holger Mohaupt, resulting in this grand showcase of the culmination of a year of hard work. Many students often struggle with the transition from secondary school on to another positive destination, and therefore Activity Agreements such as this allows young people to advance their confidence and self-esteem, as well as their skills.

The students also learnt to frame and display their photographs.
The students also learnt to frame and display their photographs.

When I arrived at Prestongrange Museum I was firstly stunned by the beauty of the location. I could see why it was chosen as the subject of the photographs on display. Looking at the students’ work, it was clear that they were greatly inspired by the scenery around them. The gallery itself was lively; with a significant turnout of family and friends, as well as local residents curious to see the photographs on display. Walking around the room, I could hear nothing but positive comments about the artwork, with many impressed that such a high quality of work could be produced in such a short space of time.

Students were given the chance to curate the exhibition themselves.
Students were given the chance to curate the exhibition themselves.

I was keen to talk to the women of the hour; the students who had produced the work. Speaking to Louise, Siobhan, and Amber, it was clear that photography had become a passion for them, with all three hoping to go on to study the subject further once they have left school. Siobhan had even pursued photography further by producing a calendar in collaboration with East Lothian Works, and winning a competition. When asked how they felt having their work on display, Louise and Siobhan agreed that it was a really cool experience, while Amber stated that it was quite nerve-wracking to have other people look at, and critique, your work. However she had no need to worry, as the entire exhibition had people leaving with a smile on their face, and positive comments were passed all around.

The photographer who aided the students in their course, Holger Mohaupt, had a few works to say about the young people he had spent the year working with. He said the student should be incredible proud of what they had done, and that their work shows the quality you can achieve simply with a good idea on your mind.

These young people should be very proud of the work they have achieved, and I wish them all the best in pursuing photography further once they leave school. I would like to thank Kat and Karen for inviting me along to the exhibition. It was a joy to see the works on display.

Images © Holger Mohaupt

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Musical Theatre Group Showcase Extravaganza!

On the 4th of June 2019, a group of young people from different high schools throughout East Lothian came together to showcase the musical theatre skills they had been working on. Attendance was high, and the show proved to be a huge success, with rave reviews from students, parents, carers, and staff alike.

Musical theatre students during their show.

The musical theatre group formed in January, and began to work on the blueprints of a show, using collaborative working to reach a shared goal. With the help of East Lothian Council, the group met eighteen times throughout the term to work on their routines with the organisation ‘Dance Division’. The emphasis in these sessions was team-working; letting the students work together to determine what they wanted to display to their audience.

A duet between two musical theatre students.

Most of the students did not know each other before the group was created, but through it they developed strong friendships, and developed their confidence and self esteem.

The show also involved singing from some of the students.

The showcase was the group’s final piece of work before the end of term, proving as evidence of all the hard work they have put in throughout the year. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and I think it’s clear to say that the students should be incredibly proud of themselves.

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