Project Description

Glenwood High School in Fife has developed a strong network of local businesses, partners and bodies throughout its engagement with the Developing the Young Workforce programme in Fife. They started with a keen focus on developing the basics and, two years on, have created an integrated programme of activity to coordinate and facilitate positive career destinations and contextualised learning opportunities to support pupils in making the transition from school to employment.

With DYW (Fife) as the mechanism to bring it all together, the school has had some incredible results for businesses, young people and wide-reaching benefits for the local community. From collaborations with Robertson’s Construction, Fife Voluntary Action, Taylor Wimpey, Fife Fabrications and Pitreavie Group, Glenwood High School has some exceptional stories to tell.

Programme successes
Initially the team worked on growing awareness of the DYW (Fife) programme throughout the school and since then, activities have included implementation of events from S1 to S6, placements at local businesses such as Fife Fabrications and Pitreavie Group in Glenrothes, and skills workshops with first year students to allow them to consider their employability from the start of their secondary education journey. The school has also introduced what will become an annual business breakfast which strengthens relationships with local businesses. Fife Voluntary Action, a business that works to support, develop and represent community groups, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and volunteering in the region, take part in a ‘transition day’ for P7’s as they move from primary school to high school. It also attends senior careers fairs, with older pupils encouraged to consider volunteering as a route to employment whilst also highlighting the many opportunities available outside the classroom which can increase employability.

Taylor Wimpey delivered an engaging workshop session using Lego models of the houses they build as part of an exercise in developing strategic and commercial acumen. Teams of S1 pupils had 30 minutes to build as many houses as possible and sell completed buildings to the bank, choosing the complexity of the build from two, three and four-bedroom options. They could also sell buildings in parts at a reduced market value, if their efforts were incomplete. The young people in the session had to develop a clear strategy and work on communication, effective teamwork and time management to make the most money and emerge as the winning team. The workshop was a huge success with excellent pupil feedback and was also an inclusive session which brought together young people with a range of capabilities and educational needs, with great engagement at every level.

Another success story for Glenwood High School is its partnership with Robertson Construction. The Introduction to Construction Programme delivered this year by Robertson Construction provided a group of S4-S6 pupils, who were on a Construction Course at Fife College, with fresh insight into the industry. Pupils learned about various aspects of the sector, including careers options, CV development, technical skills, construction phases and even hands-on practical demonstrations in brickwork, joinery, engineering and general site labouring on a live site. Although the project is yet to be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has created some brilliant engagement from Glenwood pupils, with one pupil inspired to stay on at school for S5 and delighted with his new CV. The project has created a fantastic partnership between Glenwood High School and Robertson Construction with future opportunities for young people in development.

Added value
One of the many benefits of the Developing the Young Workforce programme is the increased understanding of the skills and qualities that lie behind the world of work. Sometimes the biggest impact is on those young people who have no real idea of their career ambitions or don’t see themselves staying on at school into S5 or S6. With so many local employers getting involved in projects with Glenwood High School, its young people are finding that there are many different routes to finding a rewarding career.

And value isn’t only driven by working with businesses, it’s also a product of a direct focus on building strong relationships with a wide range of organisations, from local community groups to national bodies, such as Skills Development Scotland (SDS). Working collaboratively with SDS, pupils are learning more and more about the skills and qualities that they have already as individuals, as well as how to apply them to the job market, creating greater understanding for young people on what jobs are out there for them. Glenwood High School links this with what pupils learn and discuss in Personal and Social Education (or PSE) classes. This not only engenders positive discussion in its classrooms, it also embeds learning in a wider context and opens the world of work in a meaningful and impactful way across the curriculum.

“Part of our role as DYW (Fife) Coordinators is to open our pupil’s eyes to the many career pathways that are available and the diverse opportunity that exists in the world of work. At Glenwood High School, we started with the basics. We worked hard to raise awareness of skills, qualities, what employers want and what employment looks like, as well as the pathways to get there across the school. We have made huge progress with this in the past two years but we’re by no means the finished article and continue to look for ways to improve our provision. In Fife we have many multinational companies on our doorstep and when our pupils hear from local business leaders on their career and how they got there, I regularly see a tangible change in how the young people then see themselves and the opportunities available to them. For them, meeting real people with real experiences from our local area helps them to see that their career aspirations are achievable, and they begin to take more ownership. From this exchange, many are encouraged to have high expectations of themselves and what they can achieve in their careers, some of them for the very first time. It is seeing that increase in ambition, direction and drive as a result of the information they have gained from DYW activities within school that is undoubtedly one of the best parts of my job.”

Hannah Burgess, Teacher of History & DYW Coordinator, Glenwood High School