YPI Scotland

The Wood Foundation has welcomed four additional schools to its Excelerate network.

Arbroath, Forfar, Peterhead, and Dyce Academies will all benefit from investment in professional learning, coaching, and network support focussed on culture, collaboration, and pedagogy to achieve their visions for change.

Arbroath and Forfar are the first schools in Angus to embark upon the investment.

Jim Hammond, Service Leader of Education and Lifelong Learning at Angus Council, said:

“We recognise and welcome this significant investment from The Wood Foundation and look forward to strengthening our partnership. The goals of Excelerate articulate well with the strategic priorities and ambitions of the Angus education plan.

“It is clear that the needs of learners and the world around us is rapidly changing. Excelerate offers an opportunity for the school communities of Arbroath and Forfar Academies to reimagine their respective offers. This approach is a dynamic and innovative way to redesign the curriculum to allow young people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.”

Judith Mohamed, Head Teacher at Arbroath Academy, said:

“We want to be at the forefront of co-designing a new relevant and exciting curriculum for all our learners.  As a school we are looking to support the learners and staff to create a curriculum to tackle this changing landscape. We want to harness the support and expertise from Excelerate to create a transformational, sector leading curriculum.”

Kas Mohamed, Head Teacher at Forfar Academy, added:

“Excelerate will support the school’s aspiration to place itself at the centre of the community and to drive a whole-community approach to raising levels of aspiration, employer links and community links to further increase learner journey opportunities for our young people.

“We are excited to be looking outwards towards the very best practice in innovative and creative approaches to the curriculum to further improve the student experience and to benefit from and contribute to local, national, and international networks.”

The total number of schools engaged in Excelerate across the North-east of Scotland is 17. The first cohort was engaged in 2019. A demonstration hub is being developed to empower leaders of learning who can cascade innovative approaches and ideas with colleagues nationally, based on their training and experiences in the classroom.

Excelerate is an investment by The Wood Foundation empowering system change in education, providing opportunities for school leaders, practitioners, and industry and community to connect and collaborate to develop learning experiences which allow young people to thrive in school in order to effectively prepare them for the future. Excelerate was formed after in-depth research with international innovators, many of whom continue to be partners in the delivery and evolution of the offering.

Peterhead Academy is the ninth Aberdeenshire secondary to join the network. Gerry McCluskey, Head Teacher at Peterhead Academy, said:

“Peterhead Academy applied to be part of the Excelerate investment to access world-class professional learning for staff in order to further improve the learning, teaching, and assessment of the school. We have ambition to provide our young people with engaging contextualised learning experiences, working alongside business and community partners in and around our school community. The Excelerate professional learning inputs will help our staff develop the confidence and understanding they require to make the best of the opportunities available in our own community.”

Katie Arthur, Head Teacher at Dyce Academy, added:

“This investment from The Wood Foundation, will support us to take our business and community partner engagement to the next level as we seek to create a community connected learning environment here at Dyce Academy. With such input, collectively, we can ensure that our young people have the skills, knowledge and understanding to be confident and agile as they move beyond school and take on all that the future has in store for them in learning, life, and the world of work.”

Banff, Kemnay, Alford, and Portlethen Academies have been engaged for more than four years. The implementation of learning includes restructured timetables, dedicated project-based learning classes, skills frameworks that are used in everyday learning, and the formation of small learning communities focussed on health and wellbeing.

Practitioners are offered a range of professional learning opportunities including study visits to be inspired by proven models of innovative practice, as well as structured programmes focussing on project-based learning and oracy. There is support given to cascade learning and to collaborate as a network.

Business and Community Support Officers are also in place in the majority of schools to work alongside practitioners to identify partners which bring the curriculum to life through co-design and co-delivery with students.

Georgea Hughes, Programme Director at The Wood Foundation, said:

“We are delighted to welcome these four schools to our network and look forward to working in partnership with them as they realise the opportunities to flexibly deliver a curriculum that meets the needs of all learners, as well as wider community and industry.

“Four years in and we are delighted to see how schools have embraced the opportunities offered and developed innovative ways of working within their own contexts which are already making an incredible difference. Sustainability is at the heart of this model so we are confident the changes we are seeing will continue to deepen, grow, and evolve.

“When Excelerate launched, the need for reform was clear and the mandate has increased significantly. The opportunities provided through Excelerate align with these ambitions. Learnings from our partner schools are being shared as exemplars of what is possible within the Curriculum for Excellence framework.”