Hospitality scheme opens college door to pupils

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HUNDREDS of pupils across the Lothians are to study at Edinburgh College and Queen Margaret University (QMU) while still at school as a trail-blazing training programme expands.

The East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy has already guided 34 youngsters from three high schools through a series of practical and academic classes at the two institutions.

Now, thanks to £4.6 million of new money from the Scottish Funding Council, the programme – which aims to streamline the passage between school, college, university and the workplace – will be rolled out to 1200 pupils throughout the Lothians, with new academies set up for the food, healthcare and creative industries.

Professor Alan Gilloran, QMU deputy principal, said: “It has been quite challenging to get the model up and running but the enthusiasm and commitment of all partners to make it work has been outstanding.

“The academy model is based on everyone – schools, the college, the university, the council and the partner hotel groups – working together to achieve a common goal.”

The hospitality academy project has brought in major businesses such as Marriott Hotels, Prestonfield House, and the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria to offer placements to pupils.

Ray McCowan, vice-principal at Edinburgh College, said: “This dynamic collaboration will encourage young people to progress through college or university who may never have imagined that these options might be available to them.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian education leader, said: “I am encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the youngsters.”

‘It was terrifying but exciting’

JOINING the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy has already helped Lauren Cain win industry awards.

Competing with four other academy students, the 16-year-old from Musselburgh Grammar scooped a bronze award at this month’s Scothot National Culinary Championships at the SECC.

She said: “I loved taking part we had to flambé live in front of an audience. That was terrifying but exciting.

“We didn’t find out until after the competition that we were up against much more experienced people from hotels like Gleneagles. We were all really chuffed with bronze medals.”