News

A9 pupils on road to success

Published: 19 Mar 2019 14:00

Conference brings schools, teachers and industry together

The Scottish Government’s award-winning Academy9 schools initiative inspired by the A9 Dualling programme is the catalyst for a major conference being held today and tomorrow in Aviemore.

“Academy9 – Building a Legacy” is the first conference bringing together engineering, infrastructure and education professionals along with pupils from schools along the A9 to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education and employment opportunities for future generations and learn from their shared experiences.
The conference has a number of high profile speakers from industry and education who are involved in inspiring and supporting young people to achieve their goals and potential.

Academy9 comprises a progressive programme of STEM-related activities covering the educational journey from pre-school, through school, college and university. There is also a unit for teachers, included in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF Level 6) which helps them deliver the Academy9 programme to their pupils.

Michael Matheson Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said:

“When completed, the Scottish Government’s ambitious A9 Dualling programme will deliver major road safety and journey time improvements for anyone using the route between Perth and Inverness.

“Work is continuing across the route and road users are already benefiting from the first section to be dualled between Kincraig and Dalraddy, with construction of the second section between Luncarty and Pass of Birnam currrently underway and the detailed design work for other schemes continuing across the programme.

“However, while the benefits to road users are to be welcomed, we want to do lots more for the communities living along the A9 corridor and Academy9 provides the opportunity to invest in the country’s next generation of engineers, designers and construction workers.

“Through the different elements of our Academy9 initiative we have delivered learning to over 3,800 pupils and 120 teachers in schools along the A9 corridor since its launch in 2015.

“This conference is bringing together professionals from infrastructure and engineering as well as professionals across the education spectrum to showcase the award-winning Academy9 programme, raise awareness of STEM and at the same time promote knowledge exchange and opportunities for learning.

“So the A9 Dualling programme is about much more than building a road and through Academy9 we are contributing to the development of a world-class workforce for the future.”

As an example of the tangible benefits Academy9 is bringing, 13 pupils from Breadalbane Academy are the first candidates to embark upon a new Scottish Qualifications Authority Customised Award. Aimed at S3, S4 and S5 pupils, this SQA Level 4 qualification (Civil and Infrastructure Engineering projects: An Overview) is the first and only SQA Customised Award which specifically directs pupils towards STEM careers. The candidates will attend the main conference where they will be presented with certificates marking their pioneering involvement in this Award.

Mr Matheson said:

“This commitment by the Breadalbane Academy9 pupils shows how our Academy9 programme is providing our young people with the tools to consider pursuing a career in engineering and infrastructure.”

Alistair Wylie, Head of Qualifications – Technology, Engineering, and Construction at SQA, said:

“The qualification gives young people an introduction into the skills and knowledge they will develop, and the opportunities available to them if they pursue a career in civil engineering. The award is available to schools across Scotland, and should be of particular interest to those along the length of the A9 corridor, and it is great to see this first cohort of pupils from Breadalbane Academy embark upon the course.

"I hope to see more schools grasp this opportunity, and offer their pupils an insight into a career in construction.”

As well as benefiting school pupils, Academy9 has been the catalyst for an exciting new competition for Scotland’s engineers. As part of the Innovation Papers competition, industry professionals were asked to submit innovative ideas under the categories of Sustainability, Technical Innovation, Working with Communities and Young People, and Safety and Wellbeing.

As well as writing a short article to inspire young people and teachers with regard to their profession, the competition winners made a short video showcasing their wider team and giving a sense of their workplace. These videos will feature at the conference where the competition winners will also receive their awards.

The four winners are:

• Sustainability – Anna Rutherford representing Jacobs
• Technical Innovation – Lee Armer representing Jacobs
• Working with Communities and Young People – Shona McBride representing Mackenzie Construction
• Safety and Wellbeing – Michael Lancaster representing Jacobs