Students at the North East Scotland College – known as Nescol – have spoken about how leaving school “early” was the best thing they ever did.
Sometimes, leaving school in fourth year is seen as a less academic path, or the option for young people who just want to get away from education and get a job.
Recently, Fraserburgh Academy headteacher Irene Sharp spoke about the “cultural traditions” that are part of the reason for high S4 leaving figures at her school.
She also spoke positively about the relationship the school has with Nescol that makes pupils feel ready for work or a vocation at a younger age.
Louise Findlay and Lee Goodwin are living proof that leaving school earlier can be a positive – and they are both talking about their experiences at Nescol.
HND Digital Design & Development (Web Development)
Louise graduated with fellow Nescol students with her HND in 2019 and is now well on her way to a career in web development.
The 20-year-old is now in her fourth year of a degree in BSc Computer Application Software Development (Web) at Robert Gordon University after going straight into third year.
Alongside her studies, Louise – who went to Milne’s High School in Fochabers – and some of her classmates are already working as freelance front-end web developers.
Louise said: “I could’ve stayed on at school and studied Higher Computing but developing websites interested me more than programming and I wanted to choose a subject that would focus on that. The course at Nescol looked fascinating.”
Now in her final year of studying, Louise is starting to look towards the next step in her story. She is hoping to gain employment in a small studio or agency as a front-end web developer whilst continuing to work freelance on the side.
Hear more from Louise in the video below.
Sport, Fitness & Uniformed Services
Entry to Uniformed Services – Level 2 Diploma
Lee Goodwin says Nescol has played a pivotal role for him as he begins a career with the Royal Air Force.
From a young age Lee – now 17 – was a member of the Air Training Corps, reaching the rank of Corporal.
In fourth year at school, Lee enrolled on a Uniformed Services course, spending one day a week at college. The difference was eye-opening.
He said: “I was treated like an adult, and for me, college was a better place to learn. It was more relaxed, calmer – which is why I decided to leave school as soon as I could.”
Lee left school at 15 and enrolled onto the Entry to Uniformed Services course, applying to the RAF at the same time.
During his time as one of the Nescol students, he worked on his fitness, and lost just over 2 stone – an achievement he believes helped him to pass the fitness test for the RAF.
Lee recently joined the RAF as a Logistics Supply specialist and he has successfully passed phase 1 of his training. After completing his basic training his first posting will be in the Falklands.
He said: “The air cadets boosted my passion for joining a service, and college gave me the confidence to grow as a person and develop my social skills in an environment where I felt I could thrive. It’s important to push yourself – you may surprise yourself by how much you can actually achieve.”
A word from the principal
Neil Cowie, Principal at Nescol, is certain the is no “one size fits all” approach to education.
He said: “For a large number of pupils the transition to college at the end of S4 is the ideal option.
“Those who have a clear career path mapped out have an ambition to grasp those opportunities.
“We also find that moving to a new and fresh environment provides impetus for learners who don’t have that firm career plan in mind but are ready to move on from school to further education at college. That can be a great benefit for pupils at a crucial stage in their development and who perhaps feel that school isn’t the best environment for them.”
Mr Cowie also expects lockdown might have an impact on students making important decisions at the end of this academic year.
He added: “The uncertainty created by the unique circumstances of the past year will undoubtedly have an impact on the thought process of pupils as they consider next steps and schools are preparing for a higher than usual numbers remaining in the senior phases 2021/22.”