YPI Scotland

As 2021 draws to a close, The Wood Foundation’s Programmes Director Georgea Hughes reflects on the achievements of the Excelerate network and the continued ambition for the new year, recognising the commitment of the vast range of partners engaged in this work.

“When we embarked upon this work with our pioneer schools in autumn 2019, we knew there would be change ahead. What we could not have envisioned was the type of change we would, as a global society, be part of.

“And while that has presented challenge, it has also presented opportunity. Reflecting on 2021, I am proud of how this network has grown – both in terms of numbers and impact. Teachers’ ambition for their students has been central to this success and finding space among the noise to keep one eye on the future has been vital.

“We welcomed seven new schools from Aberdeen City and Shire to the investment this year. We had only intended on increasing the network by five schools but the quality of school partners with ambition for change meant we felt we had to increase that number.

“We’ve recently undertaken 90 focus groups across our new schools to gain an understanding of school culture, structure, partnerships and collaboration, as well as the potential and wider appetite for change. These were highly informative, filled with education practitioners dedicated to ensuring their practice, partnerships, and delivery opportunities were supportive of their students’ futures.

“Other highlights from the year have been the launch of our oracy initiative, with more than 20 leaders of learning from our partner schools, and the training of hundreds of City and Shire teachers in the foundational principles of project-based learning.

“Through the Excelerate investment, partner schools have engaged hundreds of community members to help shape the education offering of schools through School Leaver Profile events. These highlighted the skills, values, and attributes that a diverse range of stakeholders believed young people should have developed during school.

“The Virtual Career Expo shared almost 100 career pathways with young people and provided opportunities for direct engagement and learning about key sectors.

“Educators are implementing their learning, being inspired to deliver innovative learning and teaching approaches which suit their context. They are bringing learning to life, supported by our BCSOs’ community and industry relationships.

“In 2022, we are excited for this ambition for system change to embed further and witness enhanced collaboration across the network. We will also expand the network in the North-east, inviting additional schools, alongside already-identified 2022 partners, to benefit from this investment in culture, collaboration, and pedagogy.

“We remain inspired by a great many organisations, including the Edge Foundation and Ford NGL, as well as by our schools and other partners. We thank them for an incredibly productive 2021 and look forward to 2022 filled with hope that we can collectively continue to do better for our young people.”