Pupils shown the art of career choice

Niamh Curran and Holly McNie, with pupils
Niamh Curran and Holly McNie, with pupils
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School pupils in the city are unshackling their imaginations and getting help to explore creative careers thanks to a project set up by two Edinburgh College students.

College students have set up the Creative Ambassador Project, where they go into schools to work directly with students in Art and Design classes to give them the benefits of their own creative and education experiences.

The students, Niamh Curran and Holly McNie, both aged 19 and studying HND Graphic Design – set up the pilot project with prize money from local graphic design firm ThreeBrand.

ThreeBrand challenged college students to come up with ways of engaging school pupils about careers in art and design. Niamh and Holly’s pitch was judged the best and they received cash to set up and manage their project.

The students have worked with five Edinburgh secondary schools so far – Broughton, Tynecastle, Drummond, Trinity and Holyrood, with Castlebrae also lined up and another couple interested. They are running six workshops in art and design classes at each school until May.

With support from classmates, they are helping the pupils develop their creative skills and explore education and career opportunities. Using their own experience of trying to decide how to pursue their creative interests, they are able to support the students to make their own informed choices.

Niamh said: “At school I wanted to do something creative but I wasn’t sure what courses were available and what I needed to do to get into them.

“It can be hard to figure out what’s best for you and what you need to do to get there, so we wanted to help other young people who are making these kinds of decisions now.

“The kids seem to really enjoy the workshops and we’re able to build good relationships with them. We understand what they’re going through as it wasn’t long ago that we were in the same place.

“Since we ran the first workshops in January at Broughton High School the project has snowballed and more and more schools are expressing interest in taking part, so it’s really exciting. It feels good to be able to help them; to work together with the schools and the art teachers, and to be part of something that’s making a difference to pupils.”

As well as helping the pupils, Niamh and Holly are also learning how to manage a project, presenting to large groups, dealing with finances and gaining experience as educators.

Edinburgh College Graphic Design lecturer Helena Good said: “We set out to develop a process that met the needs of all parties, from a pupil’s initial interest to guiding teachers on how to access support, through to offering actual contact with employers.”

The success of this pilot project means it could be used as a model for other departments within the college.

Tynecastle High School art teacher Shionagh Primrose said: “This is an exciting and innovative project that offers students direct access to real-world opportunities outside school and a chance to get a feel for life in the world of design.”