Project Description

Through Developing the Young Workforce (Fife) and partnerships with local businesses, colleges and bodies, the team at Balwearie High School (BHS) coordinates and facilitates positive career destinations and contextualised learning opportunities to support pupils in making the transition from school to employment.

Despite the many challenges throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and the effect this has had on how DYW is delivered in Fife, Balwearie High School has created a fantastic platform to share real stories of local businesses and careers through a programme of short films they are delivering for young people, with a little help from a creative former pupil.

Innovation through challenging times

At Balwearie High School (BHS), as with all schools operating in 2020 throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a drive for innovative thinking about how to continue to support young people in their understanding of the options that are available to them as they prepare for the world of work, despite a period of uncertainty and national lockdown. Though most schools and businesses operated remotely since March 2020, BHS continued to build relationships with local businesses and showcase careers through a project first suggested by Depute Headteacher Andrew Booth, to former pupil, Gavin Hugh of MidgieBite Media.

Building on the Developing the Young Workforce programme aims, Gavin’s idea was to offer his own skills and time to support the school and DYW (Fife), developing a series of films which offer students at Balwearie High School a whole new way of experiencing working life, through hearing from local people in relatable, local businesses. To date, the films include businesses such as ExxonMobil, Diageo and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, with plans to continue making these as a way of engaging young people and highlighting different work environments remotely.

The aim for this ongoing project as it gains momentum with local businesses, is to encourage as many people to contribute to developing these short but impactful films as possible. The overarching aim is to broaden student understanding of the diverse range of opportunities and workplaces in Fife and create greater understanding of their own skills, connecting work done in classrooms to the skills required to achieve their own aspirations for their future careers. It also feeds into a wider project called, ‘Balwearie Connect’ which encourages former pupils to volunteer to share what they’ve achieved in their own careers since leaving school, as inspiration to current BHS students.

Programme successes

Some of the best examples of DYW project success before Covid-19 at Balwearie High School have come from direct interfaces between businesses and relevant departments. For example, Babcock linking with the Mathematics Department to link key learning in the classrooms to their work in delivering critical, complex engineering services or Technip FMC connecting with the school’s Technology Department. This kind of partnering offers clear engagement with the curriculum and highlights real-life working examples in line with what is being taught. The school has also had great responses to business breakfasts, career fairs and with CR Smith’s Handpicked and Career Ready programmes.

See all of our videos in our film showcase or watch them individually below:

“At Balwearie High School we’ve traditionally had a high percentage of our students going to University after school, and although that is something we are happy with, we want to highlight the value of the many other pathways open to our learners and emphasise that the many routes from school to working life are not necessarily straight and smooth – and that’s okay! There are so many options out there, with something to suit every young person. Our current focus is on staying informed and encouraging the pupils and their parents explore all the options available in the current employability landscape as that shifts and changes. What Developing the Young Workforce helps us to do is bring our knowledge and networks together; from the businesses we work with to Skills Development Scotland, Career Ready or Handpicked, we can access support which helps us to build and create engaging routes for young people to connect with. This empowers them to engage with and understand their own individual employability skills and how these can be applied as they grow and transition into the world of work.”

Andrew Booth, S5/6 Depute Head, Balwearie High School