Foundation Apprenticeships

Last year we introduced an Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship as part of our school college course programme.

School pupils can study a Foundation Apprenticeship in S5 to S6 as one of their school subjects. This type of course offers pupils the opportunity of significant work experience before they have left school.

In this blog post, Fraser Wallace, a fifth year pupil at Greenwood Academy, tells us about his experience as a foundation apprentice so far.


Fraser has been studying the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering since August 2016.

Why did you decide to study a Foundation Apprenticeship?

Doing the course works wells with me being at school. I don’t have to keep my options to just my Highers, I can do a college course at the same time.

It also means I can reduce the amount of time it will take me to get the job I want.

Why did you choose the Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering?

Engineering is a massive sector and has something for everyone. There will always be a need and demand for engineers, which is appealing. I prefer to learn by being in the workshop and practising what we are learning. I am very excited to get to work with a company, it’s a brilliant idea. They will get to meet me and know my name before I have even applied for a job.

Did you have any experience in engineering before you started the course?

I did my work experience at General Electric, which was brilliant. I also help my dad fixing things around the house. He works offshore in engineering. I knew I wanted to do engineering before I started the course, but I thought it would be good to try it out before I commit.

What do you do in the course?

I spend two afternoons a week at college. On Tuesday it’s practical with my engineering lecturer, Sarah. At the moment we are wiring electric boards. On Thursday it’s more theory based covering topics like safety, engineering processes and things like the reactions of metal when we are working with it. Next semester we are starting Computer Aided Design (CAD) work.

What do you like best about the course?

Doing the practical work and especially getting to try it yourself. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are trusted to practise a task independently. I really like the course content as well, it’s very interesting.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the course so far?

I haven’t found anything in the course too difficult at the moment.

How does it work with your school studies?

I picked up a bus pass from my school reception which gets me to the Irvine campus for the course and then back to the school. The bus gets me to the campus in plenty of time. I am taking 3 Highers along with the Foundation Apprenticeship. I was going to take a fourth Higher, but when I saw the option to take Engineering I thought it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to get again at school. I needed to take it this year.

My parents at first were hesitant but they know this is what I want to do. They support me 100%.

How does it differ from being at school?

It’s a different style of teaching at college, you are treated more like an adult. It’s nice to have a feeling of independence.

How did you hear about Foundation Apprenticeships?

Through my guidance teacher, he knew I wanted to do engineering so gave me information about the course. I researched what the course was and then went to the Foundation Apprenticeship information session at Ayrshire College in April. This helped answer any questions that I and my parents had.

What was the process of applying?

I completed an application form and then went for an interview. I took the aptitude test and passed, it was quite basic maths.

What do you want to do when you finish school?

I would like to be an Aeronautical Engineer. Most of these companies recruit through college and apprenticeship programs. I knew someone that was an apprentice at General Electric and they put him through university.

Why would you like to be an Engineer?

There are always problems in the world to solve. I won’t be working on the same problem everyday either. There will always be new challenges.

Fraser will continue the Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering through his 5th and 6th year of school. Completing the course will give him a head start when applying for a job, Modern Apprenticeship, or a full-time college or university College course.

Sarah Taylor, Engineering Lecturer teaching the Foundation Apprenticeship, said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship allows school pupils to undergo elements of modern apprenticeship training in Engineering whilst maintaining the benefits of completing National 5’s and Highers at school.  This adds to the employability of the pupils and gives them additional skills and knowledge most school leavers would not have.  Hopefully l, the course will encourage them to pursue a career in an engineering discipline”.

Meet Stewarton Academy’s Ayrshire College Award Winner

Ayrshire College has provided a new award for all 25 secondary schools in Ayrshire for pupils who did exceptionally well on their school-college course over the last year.

We offer a wide range of vocational courses that pupils can take along with their school subjects over their senior phase of fourth, fifth and sixth year. Each school decides on which pupil should receive the award and presented it to them during the school prize giving.

Rachel Floyd, is Stewarton Academy’s Ayrshire College Award winner.

Rachel started a Skills for Work Early Education and Childcare course at the start of S5. She aspires to work with children and felt this course was a great stepping stone onto a career path in the sector.

Alexis Barbour, Deputy Head Teacher, commented that Rachel earned this award by “overcoming the challenges of travelling to college, meeting and working with new people and being organised. These challenges can be considerable for some pupils and Rachel initially found it very difficult. However her determination and strength of character developed and with the support of college staff, school staff and her parents she made excellent progress. She now has the confidence to leave school and study at college full-time.”

Why did you decide to take a course in Skills for Work Early Education and Childcare?

I really want to work with children and I feel it is the right career choice for me. I thought doing the course would help me get a job in childcare.

Tell me a bit about the course. What kind of things did you do?

We learnt about the emotional and social aspects of early education and childcare. We would learn the theory of play in childcare, and to help us understand it, you would do the activities yourself. This meant the course had a lot of practical parts to it such as dancing, painting and even an activity involving voice pad technology. It really helped me understand what it would be like for the children doing it and how I could put the theory into practice in a job.

What did you like about the course?

I really liked doing all the play activities, just learning how to play with the children was a lot of fun. We made story books and got to make playdough to see what it felt like to play with. We also made powder paint, which gets everywhere, so I went home pink that day. It was really fun.

What was the most challenging part of the course?

Taking notes during class, as it is different from school. The lecturer talks a bit faster and it’s a different style of learning from being in a school classroom.  One week it was theory, the next week it was practical. There were also assessments every few weeks to make sure that we were on track. It was still really good and I enjoyed it.

How does going to school and taking a college course work?

I went to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday all day and college on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I took the college course along with Media, Hospitality, English and History at school (National 4 & National 5 levels).  I was also allowed time for vocational learning in a nursery. I gained a lot of practical experience.

How did you balance school and college?

It didn’t really affect me. I had study periods during the week which I used to study.  I didn’t do any extra hours outside a normal school timetable. I also had a part-time job at the same time. I just balanced everything and it worked.

How does college differ from school?

It is a bit different from school. At college you can be yourself and you don’t feel restricted in what subjects you can take. There is more freedom and independence.  I am looking forward to continuing at college.

When did you find out you had won the Ayrshire College Award and how did you feel?

I found out from one of my teachers, who told me I had won. I didn’t know anything about it.  I felt very proud and happy to receive the award. I was so proud of myself all day after my teacher told me.

What have you got planned now that you have finished school?

I am studying National 5 Early Education and Childcare full-time at the College. After that I am hoping to have a career working with special needs children in the hospital. I spend a lot of time with my cousin who has special needs and I think that it would be great helping others. This course has been great and I am excited to keep studying at college.

Jane Henderson, Developing the Young Workforce Manager, commented that “It was great to see Rachel receive her prize and see her achievement recognised with the fantastic Ayrshire College trophy. The school-college courses are a great experience for pupils and really provide them with an insight into a career pathway. I am glad to see Rachel has enjoyed her course and is moving on to a full-time course with us this year”.

Ayrshire College Award winner – St Matthews Academy

Continuing from our blog series about the Ayrshire College Trophy winners, Rachel Floyd and Cole Archibald, today we meet Evan Rush.

Evan received the award from St Matthews Academy in Saltcoats for his demonstration of Leadership. He was one of the pupils that attended Mission Discovery at Ayrshire College in June 2016.


What did you do to achieve an award for Leadership Skills?

I achieved this award by showing leadership skills both within and out with the school. For example, I represented my school at meetings with members of the local council, as well as acting as a Class Representative, feeding back concerns and opinions of the pupils in my class to the year head.  I also attended the Mission Discovery program at Ayrshire College, where I took on the role as group leader, ensuring everyone within my group had an equal part to play, and to make sure the group ran smoothly as a team to achieve the best result possible.   In addition to this, I recently gave a speech to the new S4, delivering tips on how to prepare for their first ever set of exams.

Have you continued to develop your Leadership skills in S5?

Yes. I continue to play a vocal role within my class, helping and motivating others whenever I have the opportunity.

Do you enjoy being a Leader?

I really enjoy being a Leader as it allows me to help other people to bring out their best qualities.

What do you think the most important thing about being a good leader is?

I think the most important thing about being a leader is making sure that everyone in your group is involved, recognising their individual strengths, and ensuring each person has an equal opportunity to contribute and give their opinions.

When did you find out you had won the award?

I found out I had won the award when it was announced at the St Matthew’s Senior Awards Ceremony.

How did it make you feel winning the award?

I was extremely proud of myself because I did not expect to win the award.

What are your ambitions for the next year?

I hope to pass all of my higher exams, but I also want to contribute to the school and wider community in any way possible.

What are you hoping to do when you have left school?

I hope to study Engineering at University when I leave school.

As we were unable to interview everyone that won the Ayrshire College Trophy we would like to mention Yasmin Thornburn (Auchinleck Academy), Eloise Lawler (Prestwick Academy), Harry Smith (Ayr Academy)  and Lorna Brody (Loudon Academy who were awarded the trophy by their school.

School College courses are an excellent way for pupils to study a vocational subject that they may not have otherwise had access to at school. Pupils gain transferable skills and experience from studying these courses. Often pupils have no vocational work experience to put on their CV or write about in applications for Modern Apprenticeships, College courses or University courses. Studying a school college course gives pupils a head start for their future.

If you would like to find out more information about school college courses please click here.

Ayrshire College Trophy Winners – James Hamilton Academy

Today we are continuing with our blog series of the Ayrshire College Trophy Winners from Ayrshire’s Secondary Schools. James Hamilton Academy awarded their trophy to Cole Archibald.

We have interviewed Cole previously as part of our school college partnership courses blog series.


We caught up with Cole after he received the award.

Why did James Hamilton Academy award you the Ayrshire College Trophy?

During my 4th year at school I choose to study Uniformed Services at Ayrshire College two afternoons a week, along with my other school subjects.

What kind of activities did you do that helped you achieve the award?

As part of the course I played Volley Ball, which I really enjoyed. The lecturer saw that I liked it and asked me to join the College Volley Ball team. I played for the team during my course. I also did well in the course and my subjects at school.

Are you continuing with these activities in 5th year?

As I am not studying at the college at the moment I am no longer on the Volley Ball Team, but I am still actively involved in sports in my spare time. I am looking forward to starting at the College when I have left school.

Did you enjoy the Uniformed Services course?

Yes, I thought it was brilliant. When I was making my subject choices in 3rd year I was excited to see it was an option I could take. I really enjoyed going to College during the week. It is a different environment from school.

What was your favourite part of the course?

I liked all of the sports activities we got to do, especially football and volley ball. There was quite a lot of theory and homework in the course but it was easy to balance with my school work. I enjoyed the mix of school and college.

When did you find out you had won the award?

A letter was sent home from school to tell me I had won an award and I went to prize giving to collect it.

How did it make you feel winning the award?

I was so proud of myself. I didn’t think it would be me that would win the award.

What are you ambitions for the next year?

I am starting a Modern Apprenticeship soon in welding and fabrication with Annandale Design. I will be coming back to Ayrshire College to complete it.

I applied not long ago for the apprenticeship and interviewed for the opportunity. I have always wanted to do welding and fabrication as that’s what my dad does. He has taken me into the workshop already to help me get started.

When do you start the Modern Apprenticeship?

I have to wait until I turn 16 years old, so I will be able to leave school after Christmas. I turn 16 on a Friday and start my Modern Apprenticeship on the Monday. I am very excited to start. I did think about staying on for 5th year but this is the job I want to do and feel this is a great pathway for me.

Lesley Miller, Deputy Head Teacher from James Hamilton Academy, commented

“Cole was very enthusiastic about the sporting side of his course and was proud to tell me that he had been chosen to play in the volleyball team.

It was the correct course for Cole to follow and he enjoyed having the opportunity to spend his time between school and college.”


NC Professional Cookery Level 5 – Nicole Allan

We are rounding up our theme of Hospitality and Tourism this week with an interview from Professional Cookery student Nicole Allan.

The hospitality industry in Scotland can be a very exciting career option. It is a fast paced, customer-orientated industry that offers a variety of career pathways and progressions.

Through school-college partnerships S4, S5 and S6 school pupils across Ayrshire can take a hospitality course while at school to enhance their employability and career pathways.

We interviewed some of the Professional Cookery students in December 2015 and caught up this month with Lecturer Graham Headland and Nicole Allan who took the 2015-2016 course.

Graham said “The pupils in this group were so hard-working, focused and would do anything to help. They mixed really well with all the lecturers and staff as well as with each other. We had lots of events this year which they all volunteered to help with, just to gain experience. For example, the students catered for the College’s annual business dinner. I didn’t tell them until about five minutes before it started that they would be preparing the canapés in front of the guests. They did a fantastic job under the pressure and cooked really well.” 1“This group was so focused that they took work home to complete so that they could be finished before the Easter break, giving them more time to study for their school exams.”

“Most of the students on the course got a job in hospitality when they left school including Adam and Ashleigh who we have already featured on our blog.

Nicole went on to get a job at the Dormy Clubhouse Restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, an amazing position for a student to get straight out of school.”

Interview with Nicole

Why did you choose to do the Hospitality Higher Professional Cookery course?

I decided to do a school/college course because I thought it would teach me what being at college is actually like, so I knew what to expect if I decided to do a full time course there. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and thought it would give me a true understanding of what the hospitality industry is like to work in. I hadn’t had any experience in cooking before the course but I did have a part-time job as a waitress.

What did you like best in the course?

In the course I liked the cooking part the best because we got to try out different dishes. We also prepped and cooked for many functions such as cooking for our teachers and parents.

What was the most challenging aspect?

The most challenging aspect of the course was when we had to cook for customers because it put me under a lot of pressure to make sure everything was ready and served on time.

How does going to school and taking a college course work?

On a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon our timetable would be scheduled for College between 2pm-4pm. It was good because it showed us how different school was to college. At school you were helped a lot more than you were at college, there is also much more you get to do at college. Schools are limited to the things they are able to teach.

Nicole has now left school and secured a fantastic job as a Second Commis Chef at the Gleneagles Hotel. She has been working there for three months now.

How did you hear about the job at Gleneagles?

I heard about the job at Gleneagles from my sisters’ college lecturer who gave me details to email.

What was the application process like?

First of all, I had a chat with the Sous Chef about the hotel and then I put on my chef whites and joined them in the kitchen. I was given tasks to do in the kitchen throughout a four hour interview.

What is it like working in The Dormy Clubhouse at Gleneagles Hotel?

I absolutely love working at Gleneagles. The chefs that I work with in the Dormy Clubhouse make it much more fun as they’re all such nice people. They have all helped me a lot since I started and really helped me settle in. I am staying in staff accommodation, which is handy as it’s only a five minute walk to work and has everything you need like the staff gym and you also get your own bathroom in your room.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge so far has probably been moving away so far from my family at a young age as I now need to do my own laundry and shopping!

How do you feel about this achievement?

I am extremely proud to say that I work in a five-star resort at 17 years old. Everything that we have to do has to be to five-star quality and I am happy that my head chef thinks I am capable of this.

What are your future ambitions?

I plan on staying at Gleneagles for a long time (hopefully) and then after try other well known restaurants all over the world or maybe somewhere closer to home such as Trump Turnberry.

Apply now for courses in Hospitality and Tourism

School – College Partnership Programme: Early Education and Childcare: Skills for Work (Level 5)

In the next of our series exploring school / college programmes we meet Rebecca Nix, 16 from Kyle Academy and Amanda Barr, 16 from Prestwick Academy. They are studying L5 Early Education and Childcare two days a week. We’ve been following their progress so far.


Why did you choose the Early Education and Childcare course?

Rebecca – I’ve always wanted to work with younger children so I thought it would be a good course to take to help me be one step ahead, while I’m still at school.

Amanda – I’m really fond of children, just looking after my wee cousins. Also my mum works with children, and I see how much she loves her job, so I feel encouraged by that.

Tell me about the course. What have you both been doing so far?

Amanda – On Wednesdays we do ‘play’ work, things like learning how to make things that kids can play with. Fridays we do child development and theory.


What have you enjoyed the most?

Rebecca – I really do enjoy learning about the milestones and development of children. It helps me to understand the different stages of early childhood, which is great.

Amanda – Learning new ideas, making stuff, and what children actually experience. The psychology of kids is really interesting as it’s really helpful to know what things they might be interested in at different ages.

What’s been the most challenging aspect?

Amanda – Definitely the tests are the most challenging. Trying to remember everything we’ve learnt over the last few months is the hardest bit. It’s useful though as it’s a taste of what to expect at college, and the way we would do assessments.

How does attending the college course work with attending school?

Rebecca – For me it works out well. I get a bus from Prestwick Academy, it’s no bother at all.

Amanda – I never knew we would do so much, and it’s really good fun. I like that it’s something you can try while at school. Feels like it sets me up for what I want to do when I leave. I feel a bit more prepared now.

How does college compare to school?


Rebecca – It’s a lot more fun and more relaxed. It’s as if you’re given more responsibility, which is great.

Amanda – I like that I’ve got more friends now from different schools. There’s only 11 of us in the class, but I’ve made great friends already. It’s also good to call the lecturer by their first name!

What are your ambitions?

Amanda – I want to continue with this kind of course at a higher level. I find it interesting and it’s definitely what I want to do. I see myself working in a nursery school nursery.

Rebecca – I’ve always wanted to work with younger children that have special needs. At the moment I go to Fib Youth Theatre – it’s a drama club. I help out with the younger kids there. We helped with an enabled show one time, and I really want to specialise in this area of early education.

How did you become the class rep?

Rebecca – I’ve always volunteered for that kind of thing through school, so I just thought why not? It was nice to get voted in by the class.

School-College Partnership Programme: Callum Stewart, Cherona Clark and Cole Archibald on Uniformed Services

In the next of our series exploring school / college programmes we meet Cherona Clark from Cumnock Academy, and Cole Archibald and Callum Stewart both from James Hamilton Academy. These 4th year pupils from Ayrshire are all studying a Uniformed Services course as part of their school curriculum by attending college two half days a week. This has been their experience so far.

Why did you choose this course?

Cherona: My Head Teacher, Mrs Cassidy, told me about the College courses that were available. I went along to an open day and had a tour of the department. I’m quite a sporty person and I’m thinking of joining the Police in the future so I thought this would be a good course to choose.

Cole: I am good at PE and I play football for the Crosshouse under 16’s team. My Guidance Teacher helped me to choose my course and we thought this one would suit me best.

Callum: I picked it as I thought it would be a good thing to have on my CV as I want to join the Police.

What have you been doing on the course so far?


Cherona: We do lots of different sports; volleyball, football, badminton, table tennis, circuit training and fitness testing. The Psychology students work with us and they are our mentors. Rebecca is my mentor and it’s great having her here as it makes me feel part of the College.

Cole: Various sports and fitness classes including a 12 minute run each week. The HNC Sports Coaching students work with us which is good as they motivate you to work hard. It makes you feel more included – like a real student.

Callum: You get to try different sports and take part in fitness tests. We’ve also just been given a homework task – pick two uniformed services and find out all about them. I liked doing that. We get to work with the full time students. It’s a great experience and I’ve learned a lot from them already.


How does it fit in with your school?

Cherona: I come here Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2pm – 4pm. I get the bus from Cumnock. We are given a bus pass so we don’t need to pay for our fare. I also come 1pm-2pm to practice with the College ladies football team. I already play for the Kilmarnock Football Club for girls. I used to play for Cumnock Juniors, where I was spotted and invited to play for Kilmarnock.

Cole/Callum: We just walk over from James Hamilton Academy at lunchtime. College goes on later than school but that is fine with us!

How does College compare to school? What are the similarities / differences?

Cherona: I don’t really like school. I prefer College. There is a different atmosphere here; I feel more respected. You get to call the lecturers by their first name. Dave is not as strict as my teachers at school however he sets boundaries and everyone knows not to step over them.

In school the classes are 50 minutes long whereas here one class lasts two hours with a ten minute break. It’s much better. College is a mix of active classes and time in the computer rooms.


Cole: The differences are all the students are older, they are friendlier and I get along better with the other students and staff compared to school. Similarities would be the computing class is a bit like school.

Callum: I like the staff here – Dave is a really cool guy. They definitely treat us more maturely at College.

What have you enjoyed the most?

Cherona: I’ve enjoyed meeting new people. I get on well with the staff and this positive relationship helps me to feel better about myself. I feel I am doing well on this course and I think I will achieve success with it. I don’t feel this way about the National 5’s I’m studying at school.

Cole: I’ve really enjoyed all the sports and getting a chance to try new ones. My favourite is football as this is my main hobby.

Callum: I’ve enjoyed trying all the sports and working with the HNC students. I’ve made new friends here. I don’t play sports outside school/college I love technical theatre and I am a member of Centrestage.

What have you found most challenging?

Cherona: Just coming here on my own at first. It’s a long way from Cumnock and I was nervous about finding the College myself and meeting new people. I didn’t know what to expect.


Cole: I haven’t really found anything difficult. I was a bit nervous at first because I did not know anyone. But I made friends on my first day. For people coming here next year I would say don’t worry you will get on really well because everyone is really friendly.

Callum: It’s not what I thought it would be like. I thought we would be sitting in a classroom. It’s 90% practical and 10% classroom. This helps me learn and it keeps me fit as well.

School-College Partnership Programme: Hospitality: Professional Cookery

In the second of our series, we’ll be following the progress of Adam Green from Belmont Academy and Ashleigh Read from Kyle Academy studying Hospitality: Professional Cookery at the Ayr campus.


Why did you choose the Hospitality course?

Ashleigh – I enjoy cooking at home and I know that once I leave school I really want to work in the hospitality industry. I want to try a bit of everything, and just really get the experience I need, so doing this course while at school seemed like a good start.
Adam – I like that we can ‘try out’ a career in Hospitality by doing this course. It’s definitely giving me more of an idea about what I’d like to do when I leave school.

Tell me about the course. What have you both been doing so far?

Ashleigh – We have been getting an idea of how to work in an industrial kitchen, we’re getting the hang of it now. It’s a great experience and will be great for our CV.
Adam – We do assessments along the way, like learning about the strict hygiene standards in the industry and how important that is.

What have you enjoyed the most?

Ashleigh – Getting to do a dish that you’ve never done before, tasting it, getting it right and perfecting it.

Adam – I enjoy being able to work in a proper kitchen. The different dishes you get to make and the variety of skills you get to learn. We have been making different canapés for events that are on at the college. We helped to make about 800 canapés the other week! Everything is on a much bigger scale than at school.

We also helped to make food for the James Bond event at the Ayrshire Hospice. To go from a classroom, to getting to be able to help prepare and serve the food at big events like these is great.

What’s been the most challenging aspect?

Ashleigh – It feels a bit more stressful. At school, cooking is much more laidback. Here, it feels like a real restaurant kitchen, so you try your hardest to get it right.

How does attending the college course work with attending school?

Adam – We come here twice a week and usually cook on a Thursday. I think its more laidback than school. You feel more responsible for your work and I feel that this makes me want to do well. I like school, but I really like my college experience so far.


How does college compare to school?

Ashleigh – I like being the Class Rep. We are the spokespeople for the rest of the class in college, so if they have anything they want to ask or have any worries, they can speak to us first if they want to, and we’ll speak to the lecturers on their behalf.
Adam – It’s just different at college. You learn lots more about the different sides of hospitality, like cooking, serving and practical skills. We’re more responsible for our own work here.


What are your ambitions?

Ashleigh – I enjoy cooking at home and I know that once I leave school I really want to work in the hospitality industry. I want to try a bit of everything, and just really get the experience I need.
Adam – I see myself working back of house, in the kitchens as a chef. Just really see myself working in the hospitality industry now.
We will catch up with Ashleigh and Adam in February to find out how they are progressing on the course.

School-College Partnership Programme: Jacob Adamson on Performing Engineering Operations

We want to talk to you about our School-College Partnership Programme. Or rather, let the pupils talk to you about it.

This year S4, S5 and S6 pupils from across Ayrshire are able to enhance their employability and progression pathways by attending a college course that complements their school subjects.

Qualifications on offer include Skills for Work, National Progression Awards, National Certificates and National Qualifications. 

We’ll be following the progress of a number of pupils – who are studying a range of courses – at different stages of the programme to show how the College’s partnership with Ayrshire secondary schools works, and how coming to college while you’re at school could work for you (or if you’re a parent reading this – your daughter/son).

16-year-old Jacob Adamson from St. Matthew’s Academy is first up to give us his initial impressions of his Performing Engineering Operations course at the Skills Centre of Excellence in Irvine. This qualification underpins the new Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship.


First of all Jacob, why did you choose the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course?

Mainly because I’m interested in engineering – especially electrical engineering. I thought this would be the best place for me to work towards getting an apprenticeship.

How were you made aware of the PEO?

It was actually my Mum, who works at the College, who first made me aware of it. I talked it over through the school with guidance teachers and we decided that this was the best route for me.

Talk to me about the course. What have you been doing so far?

We’re in two days a week from 9am to 3/4pm depending on how much work we’re getting through.

On Thursdays it’s mainly electrical work and then on Fridays it’s a lot of metalwork and computing, which is when we plan the technical parts of the course and also work on our CVs.

For the electronic tasks we’re learning how to wire up sockets, plugs and switches and learning how they work. It’s very interesting and useful to know – even just for using in your own house.

The metalwork has predominantly been showing us how to use the hammer, the hacksaw and some filing work.


What have you enjoyed the most?

Although the metalwork is great fun I’d say the electrical work is my favourite part of the course.

But also meeting new people and having that extra responsibility. It’s great – I love everything about it really.

What’s been the most challenging aspect?

I’ve not struggled with much but I would definitely say the metalwork is the hardest work, where the most effort needs to be put in.

Have you had any previous experience of these tasks at school?

I did some technical drawing in graphic communications during fourth year and I’ve also done the basic technical class where we made wooden boxes and things like that. That’s similar but here it’s a lot more specific.

How does attending the PEO work with attending school?


Well I sat five highers last year but this year I’m only doing two, which helps. Some of my classmates are sitting three or four subjects but I’m really happy to sit the two as I find that I’m enjoying the two days at the College and my school work is going great.

How does college compare to school?

You seem to get a lot more freedom in the College. If you’re feeling like a break, and everyone agrees, then they’ll let you take one. It feels like you’ve got a lot more responsibility whereas in school you know exactly what you’re doing all of the time. I don’t think there’s much pressure at school but here you’ve got to ensure you’re doing a good job and you’ve got that extra responsibility – which I enjoy.

The lecturers have a different approach to teachers too.

How many are in your class?

There are 11 of us in the PEO class. I’m the only one from St. Matthew’s Academy, the others are from Irvine Royal Academy and Kilwinning Academy.


What are your ambitions?

I want an apprenticeship once I’ve finished this year. I’ve been looking everywhere to find out what my options are – like Hunterston B Power Station, the Merchant Navy, oil rigs or with a local company. I’m just looking into everything. I know that an apprenticeship is what I’m looking to do.

We will catch up with Jacob in February to find out how he is progressing on the course, where we will also film each of our case study pupils for a promotional video.