James Lind, Curriculum Manager from Fife College shows pupils at the event the latest virtual welding equipment

Pupils from Bell Baxter High School in Cupar are now much more aware of the wide range of opportunities available to them, thanks to a partnership event which explored choices of courses and careers.

The Course Choice Evening which was held on Tuesday, 15 January, is the first of its kind to be held where representatives from the school, Fife College, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Fife Council and the Open University welcomed parents and over 300 pupils to find out more about new courses and pathways of study.

The event has been welcomed by all of the partners who have been working together and are committed to improving learning opportunities for school pupils in North East Fife.

During the evening, guests received presentations from the Rector, Carol Ann Penrose informing them about the new curriculum model and process for choosing courses for the next academic year 2019/20.

Carol Ann Penrose, Rector of Bell Baxter, was delighted with the engagement of young people, parents and partners on the evening and said: “Our aim was to provide parents and young people with as much information as possible on the broad range of options open to them in terms of their curriculum pathways.  We have worked hard alongside Fife College, SRUC and Fife Council to put this enriched offer in place for 2019-20 against a tight deadline and it was worth it to see our plans coming to fruition.  Thanks to everyone for their support in making this happen - it is a very exciting start.”

Presentations were also given by Iain Hawker, Assistant Principal from Fife College, who launched the new School College Partnership which offers a wide range of career pathways and courses for pupils in the senior phase from Hospitality and Childcare to Engineering and Construction.

Said Iain: “We have been working with Bell Baxter High School for many years and are delighted to now offer a larger and more varied range of courses. The courses are tailored specifically to the needs of the school and the local economy while fitting in with the school’s timetable. With over 15 different courses available from August, Bell Baxter pupils now have a wealth of opportunities to choose from, including College courses delivered in the school which will help pupils achieve their goals.

“It was great to meet so many pupils, parents and staff at the recent Course Choice Evening and launch our new School College Partnership Programme. We look forward to continuing to develop what we offer in the school and welcome more opportunities to engage directly with pupils, parents and our school colleagues to promote alternative pathways of study, degree options and skills with routes to successful employment.”

“We are also committed, through this partnership, to look at how we can make available more learning opportunities to those in the local community and throughout North East Fife.”

Lisa Devine, from the Foundation Apprenticeship team at Fife Council, also provided information on the range of Foundation Apprenticeships available within the school in partnership with Fife College.

Following presentations, guests were given the opportunity to speak with teaching staff from the different faculties within Bell Baxter High School.  Faculties showed the progression route for each curricular area, skills developed within each course and possible career opportunities.

Pupils and parents spoke with teachers and staff about possible subject choices in order to support pupils to make informed decisions about their future, both in Bell Baxter and post-school.

Fife College and SRUC also discussed progression routes and answered questions from pupils looking to study at college.  The Open University shared information on courses they would be offering in school for S6 pupils, while Careers Coaches from SDS spoke with pupils regarding their choices.

Karen Brown, Chair of the Bell Baxter Parent Council, advised that parents had found the evening informative and extremely valuable in helping pupils understand the options available to help make the correct course choices.

Said Karen: “Our family greatly enjoyed the Course Choice evening and we were impressed by the wide variety of choice Bell Baxter High School now offers its pupils.  The move to 7 Nationals instead of 6 in S4 is welcome and gives my daughter the opportunity for more subject choice.  There is also now a wide range of subjects, courses and young apprenticeships to look forward to in S5 and S6, thanks to the expanded partnership with Fife College and link up with the Open University.  We were pleased to receive such practical advice from Bell Baxter staff and we also received some very useful information from Fife College staff regarding future career pathways.”

A spokesperson from SRUC said: “SRUC’s long-standing partnership with Bell Baxter was on display again at the School’s recent Course Choice event.  Progressing pupils had the opportunity to engage with staff from SRUC Elmwood to discuss options for their 4th, 5thand 6thyear that would be delivered by SRUC. 

“Pupils will have the option to engage in Craft Bakery and Skills for Work in Hospitality learning in real working kitchens and SRUC ‘Themes’ Training Restaurant.  They will also have the option to study for a National Progression Award in Sport and Fitness developing their performance and coaching skills while working with children from local primary schools.  SRUC Elmwood has a long history of partnership working with schools and the community of Cupar and linking 4th, 5th and 6th year study options with real life delivery will see this partnership continue to grow.”