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Science Baccalaureate proves popular in the Highlands

27 October 2010

More than 50 secondary school pupils from across the Highlands will find out how an award in science can help their careers, at an information session at the Centre for Health Science, Inverness on Friday (October 29).

Organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and The Highland Council, the event will raise the profile of the Scottish Science Baccalaureate in schools, reflecting the key role of science in the future of economic development of Scotland.

Pupils at the event will hear from Mairi Sutherland, Principal teacher of Chemistry at Charleston Academy in Inverness which was the first school in the Highlands to offer the Science Baccalaureate with three pupils completing the qualification last year.

Mairi said that participating in the Scottish Baccalaureate was an invaluable opportunity for her students to work independently and on science related areas that really interested them. She said: "Within the project aspect of the qualification there is scope and opportunity for them to direct their own learning. They were the experts in their chosen areas and had to become very self sufficient and focused in managing all aspects of their interdisciplinary project. What my students gained most from the interdisciplinary project was a real sense of personal growth and achievement in an area that had connections to real life and to them."

Industry ambassadors from Diageo, Lifescan, the RAF and the Environmental Research Institute at UHI, who give their time and enthusiasm to encourage young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), will lead workshops at the event, sharing their areas of science expertise and answering questions from young people on project ideas.

Donna Chisholm, Head of Innovation and Skills at HIE, said: "The Science Baccalaureate offers an ideal opportunity for young people to really stand out in the crowd when they're applying for university and future employment in today's competitive environment. STEM skills are highly sought after by employers and we are keen for young people to work with industry professionals from a young age. This way, before they leave school they can see where studying science, maths and technology can take them."

Following Charleston's lead, pupils from Lochaber and Portree High Schools have signed up for the qualification and many others are showing an interest for next year.

The Scottish Baccalaureate in Science was launched last year and is designed to equip young people with the generic skills, attitudes and confidence they need to make the transition into higher education or employment. An important part of the qualification is the interdisciplinary project, in which pupils undertake a science based investigation or practical assignment on a topic of interest to them. The project encourages schools to collaborate with universities, colleges and industry and helps pupils develop planning, problem solving, presentation and evaluation skills.

Peter Finlayson, quality improvement officer for The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Service said: "The Highland Council is committed to developing the Science Baccalaureate in schools in the Highlands. The qualification offers pupils more than just a collection of Science based Highers and Advanced Highers. The creation of a link with industry and the use of the STEM Ambassadors to support pupils in their inter-disciplinary projects should greatly enhance pupils' experience of science. It should allow them to see science in a real life context and hopefully open up to them, the possibility of working in the Science and Technology field within the Highlands and Islands area".

For further information relating to the Scottish Baccalaureate in Science visit

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