First Chances Fife pupils celebrate at the graduation event

School pupils from across Fife enjoyed a special graduation event at the Fife College University Hub in Dunfermline on Friday 7 May.

Iain Hawker, Assistant Principal at Fife College, welcomed the 99 pupils, their parents and guests to the ‘First Chances Fife’ Graduation, a joint partnership between Fife College, the University of St Andrews, The Robertson Trust, the Scottish Funding Council and Fife Schools.

The innovative programme aims to raise the aspirations and attainment of selected pupils from P7 to S6 throughout their school journey giving them continued support into further and higher education.

Pupils are required to pass each year to graduate on to the next – on Friday it was the S1s time to shine and to celebrate their achievements from four Fife Secondary Schools: Auchmuty High in Glenrothes; Levenmouth Academy in Buckhaven; Viewforth High in Kirkcaldy and Woodmill High in Dunfermline.

The pupils have benefitted from a range of science focussed workshops this year, covering subjects including psychology, sociology, criminology, chemistry and biological sciences.

Throughout the programme pupils also develop their skills in literacy, numeracy, science and technology as well spending time visiting the College and University to meet students and staff in a range of tailored activities organised just for them.

The First Chances Fife programme plays an important part in widening access as outlined in the recent ‘Widening Access 2017-18 Report’ by the Scottish Funding Council, published at the end of May. The report outlines the fundamental role colleges play in providing opportunities for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds through access to further and higher education.

This commitment to fair access and social inclusion by the sector is also helping to reduce poverty and increase inclusive economic growth.

At the Graduation event each pupil was presented with a well-deserved certificate by Fife College Principal, Hugh Hall, who was delighted to be there to recognise the pupils’ achievements.

Said Hugh: “What a wonderful celebration. All of our young graduates have shown great commitment to First Chances Fife which involves extra study and learning on top of their normal school work. This is the second year that Fife College has been involved in First Chances Fife and we are very pleased to be part of this unique partnership. Working together means many more pupils are benefitting from the programme giving them opportunities they may not normally come across.

“Colleges are intrinsic in helping create a fairer society providing a route to education for learners of all ages and from all environments. First Chances Fife is a fantastic example of how by working together we are achieving this.”

Gordon Hunt, Head of Scholarship and Learning at The Robertson Trust also congratulated the students and gave a vote of thanks at the end of the Graduation event. Said Gordon:

On behalf of The Robertson Trust, I’d like to pass on my congratulations to all the students at today’s event, and commend the dedication, hard work and talent which has got them to this stage.

 “The Robertson Trust has always been committed to supporting initiatives which help young people realise their potential. It’s been a privilege to see this in action today and we hope First Chances Fife will continue to raise aspirations and help more young people across Fife gain all the benefits – educational, social and cultural – that further and higher education can bring.”

Laura Houston, Widening Participation Outreach Coordinator at the University of St Andrews, said: “The University of St Andrews is proud to be a partner in the First Chances Fife Programme. This unique programme offers tailored support from P7 to S6, for pupils in our local community by raising aspirations and breaking down barriers to further and higher education.”