College course transformed me, says student
Eighteen year old Ben Loughran is in no doubt as to the difference taking part in the Health and Social Care Academy has made to him.
It gave him a new assertiveness, he says, straightening his shoulders and making eye contact, as well as the confidence to talk to people. The former Broughton High School pupil admits he was shy before he came to Edinburgh College for two days a week as part of the Health and Social Care Academy. “It’s changed me. It’s a great course and I’ve gone from someone who wasn’t outspoken or confident, to someone who’s now very outspoken and confident, having to interact with lecturers and other students and people of general. So it’s been of great benefit for me.”
Ben has been one of the lucky pupils across secondary schools in Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders, to benefit from the South East Scotland Academies Partnership (SESAP). The highly successful collaborative initiative helps senior school pupils maximise their educational opportunities and develop transferable skills. Led by Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh College, SESAP involves secondary schools, colleges, local authorities and industry partners with the aim of smoothing the transition for young people between school, college, university and employment. With four academies covering Health & Social Care, Hospitality & Tourism, Creative Industries, and Food Science & Nutrition, the initiative also supports the development of Scotland’s key growth industries.
Ben completed two years in the Health and Social Care Academy alongside his conventional schooling at Broughton High School in Edinburgh, picking up Care units and is currently waiting for the results of Highers in English, Human Biology and Maths. He also gained access to valuable work experience stints at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, giving him direct insight into nursing and spending a lot of time in the surgical theatre environment.
This has confirmed his determination to pursue a nursing career. “Before the course started I wasn’t thinking about unis or colleges, I was thinking about school and coming to Edinburgh College made me think about college, which was completely different from school. There was no calling people sir, or putting up your hand, you could be more outgoing,” he said. Being part of the Academy programme helped Ben realise there were options and it might be possible to study at college or university in Edinburgh or progress his education in another city.
“I applied to both Aberdeen and Glasgow as well as Napier for nursing. I didn’t get an offer from Glasgow but I’ve got conditional offers from Aberdeen and Napier after interviews. At both university interviews, I had the chance to talk about what I’d learned during my time on the Health and Social Care Academy and in the work experience, for example following the rules, and dignity and protection. The interviewers said that was wonderful, as these are some of the areas that the course would also involve.”
Ben’s involvement in the Health and Social Care Academy has meant that he has been in the unique position of studying at school, college and university all at the same time. His senior school years have been spent mainly at Broughton High School, but his Academy experience has involved him in taking classes at Edinburgh College’s Milton Road campus on a Tuesday and a Thursday, and Queen Margaret University on a Friday afternoon. It’s given him an excellent insight into study at both further and higher education and a competitive advantage over many of his peers who have not been involved in the pioneering Academies programme.
Ben said: “I was one step ahead of other applicants because I’d already covered some of the areas as part of my time with the Academy. It definitely was a major factor in me getting my two offers from Napier and Aberdeen.”
Ben knew he wanted to work in an operating theatre environment and so asked Edinburgh College and partner Queen Margaret University to pursue this for him. “I think the course makes you more proactive, speaking up to get what you want,” he said. “I think the scheme was life-changing. You get to see where you’re going to go after school, whether it’s college or university, you get to be a new person, you get to make new bonds with people, it gives you independence, it’s your option, you’ re coming here for yourself to learn for yourself. There’s a lot of support. Being here is nice. It’s (Edinburgh College) got great facilities, great sports facilities, great libraries, a lot more than the school, so I would say to anyone out there who wants to be a bit more out there, independent, to come along, it’s a great course.”
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