Category Archives: Colleges

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: SCO VIBE

Background to the project

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is one of Scotland’s National Performing Arts Companies. The orchestra performs regularly in Scotland and overseas. In addition to this performing role, the SCO have an education programme. SCO Connect works to provide opportunities for schools, families, communities, and young people to engage with music. The SCO VIBE project is delivered by SCO Connect.

SCO VIBE is a new music opportunity which has been developed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in partnership with Edinburgh City Council. VIBE offers the opportunity for young people with some musical ability to come together in the holidays and work with professional musicians and tutors to write and perform music.

Vibe fusion band is aimed at young people who would not traditionally engage with the work of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra or the ensembles currently being offered by the Edinburgh City Council.

Recruitment for VIBE was focused on areas of multiple deprivation. SCO worked with schools, music teachers, and the City Council’s community education department to ensure that the programme targeted young people who may not otherwise have taken part in this type of activity. To increase the pool of young people coming forward, workshops were organised in schools in some of the more deprived areas to encourage participation of the target groups.

Purpose of the project

The project was designed to offer music development opportunities for young people, particularly young people who may not otherwise take part in this type of music activity (orchestral music). VIBE was also designed to be open to a broader spectrum of young musicians than other music programmes. The band includes non-orchestral instruments (guitars, voice, drums), and teaches music aurally, so there is no requirement for young people to be able to read music. This opens up participation to more ability ranges and types of instrument. Young people not only learn to play in ensembles, but also compose the music that they play

The project also provides opportunities for some of the more advanced participants to develop their skills in composition through an additional weekend workshop. These young people then support the younger members in composition.

The programme also offers volunteering opportunities for music students from Napier University and Edinburgh College. Students who take part as volunteers support the instrument groups within workshop sessions, and gain skills and experience in delivering music support at this level. The volunteers also benefit from working alongside professional musicians from Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Edinburgh city Council Music Service, learning new skills in teaching but also broadening their knowledge about possible career paths in the industry.

Project delivery

Three VIBE projects have taken place to date. Two were delivered in week-long programmes during school holiday periods – in April and July 2013. A third project took place over two consecutive weekends in October 2013. A future programme is being planned for early 2014.

While some participants are new to each event, others have attended each project.

Outcomes for young people

Young people participating in the summer programme reported having learned new techniques in playing by ear, improvising, and composing music with others.

“playing by ear – I was already trying to do that, but this has really forced me to practice. I’m so much better now”

“being able to listen to what’s happening, and adapt what you’re doing.”

Young participants in the SCO VIBE reported significant increases in their confidence in playing music. The setting, of composing and playing with other young people and adults in a mixed ability ensemble had given some the confidence to play more freely:

“I used to be really nervous of doing my own fills (drummer) – this is the first time I’ve really got into it and just gone ahead and done them”

There had also been an impact on young people’s more general musical ability:

“last time I came, I couldn’t do a flutter tongue. After the week, I could. You learn here just from being around other players, you learn from the air.”

“It’s really helping me with Higher music – lots of the terms I’ve been trying to learn, you just pick them up here, everyone is using them”.

Finally, although many of the participants are involved in learning music outside the band (for example a number are studying music at school at Higher and Advanced Higher level) they felt that being involved in SCO VIBE had been valuable experience of a kind which wasn’t offered elsewhere. It had added to their enjoyment and their understanding of music.

“It does feel professional here. This is how people come up with music when they’re in a real band.”

“It’s allowed me to play a lot more music”

“I want to play a lot more. Maybe join more ensembles or bands – it’s reminded me that music is fun and not just what we do for Higher.”

“This is a lot free-er than what we do for the Higher / advanced Higher”

Outcomes for young professionals

SCO VIBE also offers volunteering places for music students and graduates. The placements offer an opportunity for young and emerging professionals to work in a community education setting and experience a different way of teaching and supporting young musicians. The SCO also hope that there might be professional benefits for young musicians in making connections with other music professionals already working in their fields of interest.

Volunteers were motivated to get involved with SCO Vibe as it offered a unique learning opportunity:

“There aren’t any other ensembles of this size, with the variety of instruments and mixed age groups and abilities. I wanted to learn more about how it could work”

Volunteers reported that they had learned more about how to teach music in a different way and had also gained confidence in their own ability to teach and to support young musicians:

“This is a unique opportunity to learn. There aren’t any big ensembles like this anywhere else “

“Working here, helping to keep the group together and working in the right direction – it’s a great feeling to see it working well”

“I’ve really picked up a lot of teaching ideas from this. Different ways to do warm-up exercises, more ways to integrate improvisation into teaching…. This will make me a better teacher.”

“Seeing the growth in the group since Easter – young people moving forward, becoming more confident about taking part in compositions and playing more forcefully  – it’s fantastic”

“Even though I’m one of the youngest workers here, the other adults listen to me and treat me as a professional – that’s been a boost for me.”

The additional benefit for volunteers was that they had made contacts and connections with other musicians and professionals which had built their professional networks.

“I’ve made connections here with people who work at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and people who work in music tuition at Edinburgh city council. It’s been good to develop professional relationships with other musicians.”

“I’ve been chatting to other instrument teachers and finding out about other projects which might offer opportunities for me in Edinburgh – it’s been really useful”

“I’ve made connections here which might help me find work – spoken to people involved in other music projects I could volunteer in, met people who are involved in teaching instruments.”

Cashback investment: £30,000

Prison Learning – What’s the Point? Labels, Stigma and Hope

On 11th June the creative writing and drama students from Glenochil Prison Learning Centre hosted a creative conversation as part of College Development Network’s The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas.

This was the culmination of a six week drama/Scottish Studies project in which students explored aspects of labeling and learning in Scotland through drama and writing processes.

The students performed a powerful piece of theatre and then hosted five separate conversations, based on topics of particular relevance to them in an open space format.

The aim of the final creative conversation was to be able to explore a range of crucial questions in a creative and innovative way with a range of participants from within and out-with the prison.

Questions included:

  • Are labels self-fulfilling?
  • When are labels useful, needed or important?
  • Positive learning in prison vs negative/sensationalist labels in the media
  • Is personal growth as important as gaining qualifications in learning?
  • Prisons learning and progression – how to progress on release with an offender label.

Following the event students wrote up their findings and identified areas that could be developed further by themselves, the Learning Centre or other parties.

Who was involved?

The project was delivered by New College Lanarkshire, Glenochil Prison Learning Centre and Scottish Prison Service.

Participants included students: fellow prisoners, prison learning manager, prison psychologist, prison chaplain, offender outcomes manager, lecturers from other prisons, artists, criminal justice researcher and Business Gateway representative.

What core skills were developed?

Students developed questions for the final event through performance, presentation, drama, reflection and writing processes.

The final performance/conversation event required all participants to challenge preconceptions, raise questions and explore potential solutions to problems with open and enquiring minds.

Performers had to be prepared for potential hostility from an audience who may have very different ideas/experiences to their own; they had to develop strategies to facilitate conversations that may include points of view they might disagree with. Likewise, guest participants had to be open to the lived experiences and emotions of the performers as well as to views they may disagree with.

According to participant feedback and learner reflections, the following characteristics were developed:

  • Motivated and ambitious for change for the better, including in their own capabilities
  • Confident in the validity of their own viewpoint
  • Able to apply creative processes to other situations
  • Able to lead and work well with others

What impacts did the project have?

The project has had the following impacts on participants, students and staff:

  • More engaged learners
  • More understanding and support for this kind of work within the prison
  • Expressions of interest in future collaborations across agencies both within and outwith the prison – eg. learners suggested a similar event could be held with trainee social workers
  • Staff learned not to be scared to do new things, to contextualize work appropriately and to ask for support when necessary

An unexpected outcome was that prison staff from other departments engaged positively with the whole project, enhancing processes across the board.

You can contact College Development Network here:

01786  892 000

Inside a Kelpie – the finale to the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

The finale of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas was held on June 19th inside one of the iconic Kelpies. It brought together over 100 people who had hosted and attended preceding events during the Emporium. Participants congregated at Helix Park and took part in a range of dangerous conversations en route to the Kelpies. Conversations were hosted by people who had facilitated events during the Emporium, giving participants an opportunity to catch up on anything they may have missed. Once inside the Kelpie, the Emporium was reviewed and the key themes of changing perspectives, risk and failure were explored.

The key reason for hosting the event inside a Kelpie was to raise awareness of perspectives, and how we may restrict ourselves by only viewing something (The Kelpies or education for example) from a particular standpoint. By exploring a Kelpie from the inside we were challenged to consider the different components through all of our senses, thereby changing our understanding and perspective. We were also able to consider the role and experience of failure by reflecting on events that didn’t go to plan or achieve the outcome that was hoped for.

An event like this has never been held before and it required a great deal of partnership work and creative thinking on behalf of the organisers, College Development Network, and their partner education and arts organizations. It provided a model for others in risk taking, celebrating failure and success and providing opportunities for participants to experience a change in perspective.

Throughout the event participants were actively encouraged to think differently, to reflect on their preconceptions and to imagine the possibilities of a change in their thinking and perspectives.

From feedback there would appear to be a willingness to take more risks and an acceptance that failure is an important part of learning.

“ Took away many thoughts…creativity is not hierarchial, always put ideas into practice regardless of expectation to fail, ….we need leadership which allows us to take proper risks if we never fail, we never know the real way to go push boundaries”. Event participant

One of the key things learned from this event was that participants expect us not just to talk about creativity and innovation in learning and teaching but to take risks, model different approaches and share experiences of failure.

Is Education Killing Creativity and Enterprise?

College Development Network event as part of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

This key event of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, June 2014, highlighted creative approaches to curriculum delivery and enterprising approaches to learning and teaching.  In the morning sessions presenters, including Skills Development Scotland and the RSA, gave a national and international  overview of employability and enterprise while Dundee and Angus College and Team Academy explained how their approaches to curriculum delivery were radically different, and how they helped develop creativity, enterprise and employability skills in learners. In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to take part in an enterprise activity facilitated by Team Academy teampreneurs illustrating how teaching can be done without a classroom or timetable and can be very much student focused. Participants then had the opportunity to indicate areas they were interested in taking forward realizing the potential for more innovative approaches to schools-college partnerships and delivery of a range of curriculum areas.

This event built on the success of the Creativity and Employability event for strategic partners of Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan, organised by Creative Scotland in May. It aimed to encourage practitioners to consider how they could develop a more creative and enterprising approach to learning and teaching and curriculum design within a wider European and Scottish context.

The event was organised by College Development Network in partnership with SDS, RSA and Team Academy and was attended by practitioners from schools, colleges and universities as well as partner organisations.

The event gave participants the opportunity to consider how they could radically change their curriculum design and delivery. By being actively involved in an enterprising workshop activity staff could realize the potential for teaching in a very different way, that could potentially lead to lessening the restrictions of the timetable.

Participants were encouraged to consider their enterprise and creativity skills and how they could use these more effectively in their work setting. They pitched extremely imaginative ideas for education businesses which would solve some of the current timetabling and resourcing issues impacting on education across all sectors.

As a result of the event, participants have agreed to work on some SQA units over the summer to see if it is possible to offer a curriculum that is more enterprising and creative.

TES article:

Supporting Your Ambition – Employability and Creativity

Supporting Your Ambition was a one-day conference, bringing together a wide range of partners to support and advise young people on careers, further education and training in the land based industries and creative sector. Parallel activities allowed pupil support staff, Head Teachers and other relevant officers to update and inform their practice.

The event, which took place in March 2014, aimed to give young people aged 15-25 years up to date advice and information on career and further education/training choices, and to provide a platform for them to have their say about future services and events designed to support them in making career decisions.

The event was developed by D&G Education Services through the Creative Learning Network (CLN) in partnership with the Employability and Skills Service in response to focus group feedback gathered in last year’s CLN programme.

Delivery partners brought together for the event were: LANTRA, Chamber of Arts, Community Learning and Development, Skills Development Scotland, University of Glasgow and West of Scotland, Dumfries College, Holywood Trust, SQA, Princes Trust & Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Barony College, DWP, Young Scot/Creative Scotland/Creative and Cultural Skills, Modern Apprentices co-ordinator DGC and Local Employers such as the Aston Hotel Dumfries.

Maximising potential through partnership

Through joint planning, the partners were able to create an event which was innovative in scope and scale and which capitalised on existing strategic partnerships. For the Employability Service, land based industries was an area of focus, and the CLN has close links with arts partners through its partnership with the Chamber of Arts.

By sharing their time and resources and creating realistic and joint expectations, whilst putting faith into a new partnership, they were able to create a multi-faceted event and develop new ways of working to support employability.

Developing creativity skills in young people

Participants were encouraged to be open-minded about the offer of the day, and to reflect on their own needs, skills and talents. They were engaged in continuous dialogue with a wide range of professionals in order to understand better what their next steps might be – either further/higher education, training or employment. Participants were also asked to share their ambitions for young people in Dumfries and Galloway and identify barriers affecting their decision making process; they confidently shared their views throughout the day.

The enthusiasm of speakers and facilitators created a real buzz which had a knock on effect for young people and other participants in terms of their own motivation and ambition for change.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council is leading on ensuring that our education and skills provision links directly to the workforce needs of our local employers.  Events such as this which bring together employers, young people and their career supporters help us to make sure that our young people are well prepared to become our region’s workforce for the future.  Similarly young people become aware of the opportunities available here in Dumfries and Galloway and begin to understand what skills and attitudes employers’ value in their employees.”

Lynne Burgess, Employability and Skills Service

“We truly wanted to get to the crux of what young people were thinking about their future careers and to listen and talk to them about some of the difficulties they encounter when making such big decisions. The feedback from the day gives us a clear picture of this and will help us move forward in how we practically support young people in Dumfries and Galloway.”

Lesley Sloan, Curriculum and School Improvement Team

What difference has the event made?

Further joint planning and information sharing is already taking place between Education and Employability Services and CLD who learned that young people really need their support and understanding of the pressures they feel trying to make their way in the world.

A hugely positive outcome of this project has been the strong partnership and close bond created by departments coming together who are all working for the good of the young people.

Although it is too early to say whether the event will have a direct impact on young people taking up further/higher education places, the organising partners hope that the event will attract more modern apprenticeship opportunities to the region through the MA Co-ordinator for Young Scot/Creative Scotland/Creative & Cultural Skills as well as increased numbers of young people taking up local job/training opportunities.

Next steps

Building on the partnership this year, the Employability and Education Services will continue to work together to plan for a similar event for 2015. Based on the feedback from this year, they are working towards a mini Scottish Learning Festival style event with a wider range of employers, partners, training and further education providers to support and advise young people. Together, they will create a bank of ‘good’ employers with a series of short film clips that will support young people in their decision-making. They will also create some promotional material based on people from the region who have ‘made it ’ to inspire young people to be ambitious and think beyond their original expectations. Follow up meetings are being arranged with the DG Modern Apprentice Co-ordinator and the Creative Scotland MA Co-ordindator to examine a] opportunities that have been taken up and b] opportunities to be explored with creative partners.

The Employability Service is also working on developing a regional employability award.

Ripping up The Timetable

Enterprising Education in Dundee and Angus College

Dundee and Angus College identified partnership opportunities with local micro and SME’s who offer real work projects to HND Interactive Media students. The teaching and curriculum adapted to meet the demands of real work and the knowledge and skill requirements of students, rather than the other way around. Peer learning became an integral part of the course as students taught each other and relied less on traditional teaching methods and the theoretical elements of the course were taught through a webinar system in the early evening to suit students’ preferences.

Challenging normal practices

The project sought to change the current learning environment and culture to reflect existing work practices and to deliver training and skills which meet the technical demands required by today’s creative industry sector. Working with Dundee Heritage Trust as a key partner the work not only had an impact on the teaching staff and learners but also delivered benefits to the clients and partners involved.

Learners took responsibility for their own learning and influencing the content for the curriculum. The standard of work produced was very high and motivation in learners is now higher than it was prior to implementing the project’s approach.

The project was innovative because it didn’t follow the curriculum timetable, adopting instead an integrated project approach to delivering the course. In a change to normal practices it was necessary to set up a project office to cater for quick turnaround of projects.

Developing creativity skills

Learners were encouraged to develop their creativity skills through hands-on problem solving, investigating and reviewing possible solutions, communicating, often complex, ideas to peer groups and clients. Similarly staff had to take a very flexible, open-minded, and at times reactive, approach to teaching and learning which has led to their work in other areas being more varied and interesting.

Learners demonstrated confidence in their own views and abilities, and in working well with others, by giving tutorials and supporting their peer group. They were able to apply their creativity skills to different settings and were more confident in carrying out other projects.

This case study was presented as part of the final day (April 2014) of the College Development Network’s Emerging Leaders Course, as a potential model of intra-preneurial education that could be rolled out across the college and the college sector.

For further information contact Fiona Muhsin at Dundee and Angus College  –