Foundation Apprenticeship is first step towards Mearns Castle High pupil’s teaching dream

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A fifth year pupil at Mearns Castle High with aspirations of a career in teaching is studying for a Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) as she starts to map out her future.

Zoe Wilson gained eight National 5 passes last year, including six As, and when picking her Higher subjects decided taking on a FA would be beneficial for her career choices.The 16-year-old studies Higher English, French, Modern Studies and Health and Food Technology, as well as attending college two afternoons a week as part of her FA in Social Services, Children and Young People.

A FA provides the same level of qualification as a Higher, but also provides students with the chance to learn in a real workplace and develop their skills.

Zoe said: “I decided to do a Foundation Apprenticeship because I’m interested in pursuing a career in teaching in the future. I’m really enjoying the course as it lets me work in a different environment from school and next year I’ll get the chance to work with children as I go on placements to primary schools and nurseries. Hopefully, with the help of my Foundation Apprenticeship, I’ll be able to move onto university after school and study teaching to become one of many new primary teachers or nursery teachers. From an early age I’ve always been interested in teaching and the Foundation Apprenticeship is the first step towards achieving that ambition.”

Zoe is also a swimming instructor in her spare time and admits that it’s “extremely rewarding” working with younger children, so is open to the idea of working within a nursery setting.

A wide range of opportunities will be available within nurseries in East Renfrewshire in the coming years, as the amount of free nursery provision available to families is doubled by August 2020.

As a result of changes being introduced by the Scottish Government, the council is required to provide increased free childcare for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds by 2020.

Local authorities currently provide 600 free hours and this will increase to 1,140 hours, which is in effect a rise to 30 hours per week, matching the amount of time children spend each week in primary school.

As well as this requiring the council to increase the number of nurseries, significantly more Child Development Officers (CDOs), teachers and play workers, will also be needed in the years ahead.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, Convener for Education and Equalities at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “Pupils considering their career choices, who think they might be interested in working within nurseries, should definitely give some thought to taking on a Foundation Apprenticeship. These qualifications are recognised at the same level as Highers, but also give that real-life experience which is so crucial when moving into the world of work.

“As the early years expansion is rolled-out there will be countless new roles available within our nurseries, so it really is an exciting time to consider this as a career route. It is so rewarding working with children at the start of their learning journey, so I hope that many of our pupils seriously consider this as a career and help to shape the next generation of East Renfrewshire residents.”