New partnership gives power to bright sparks

09 August 2017

Gabriella Rodolico Gibson (AH Biology teacher), with pupil Jessica Agyei-Akwa.

Gabriella Rodolico Gibson (AH Biology teacher), with pupil Jessica Agyei-Akwa.

A drive to boost pupil participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has received backing from the ScottishPower Foundation.

The Foundation, which is funded by ScottishPower, has partnered with Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) award-winning widening access initiative which reaches out to 28 partner schools to deliver Advanced Highers at its city-centre campus.

Pupils studying STEM subjects at the Advanced Higher Hub are to benefit from a £50k investment to support enhanced delivery of Advanced Higher Biology and Chemistry. Sixth-year pupils will also enjoy exploratory trips to Whitelee Windfarm, the UK’s largest onshore windfarm operated by ScottishPower Renewables, and the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. 

The funding will provide up to 40 additional places in Biology and Chemistry for 17/18 and will, along with existing backing from the Scottish Funding Council and Glasgow City Council, support two additional members of teaching staff.

Eleanor Wilson MBE, Strategic Lead for Engagement and Outreach at GCU, said: “Advancing opportunities for all by raising aspirations and widening access to higher education is crucial to our common good ethos. Our Advanced Higher Hub is a bridge between school and university and gives pupils an insight into the many pathways open to them and, with the ScottishPower Foundation’s support, we will be able to further enhance the opportunities available to our pupils by enabling them to visit innovative and world-leading facilities.”

Skills in STEM-related subjects are championed by the Scottish Government as a key requirement to drive growth in the economy. Careers in STEM can range from healthcare and medical, engineering, life sciences and construction to design, tourism, retail and financial services. 

Ann McKechin, Trustee and Executive Officer at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “We look forward to working closely with Glasgow Caledonian University to help grow and enhance the Advanced Higher Hub during the coming academic year.  Its dedication to inspiring a new generation echoes the Foundation’s commitment to the advancement of education; and ultimately we hope it will further encourage more young people to pursue a career in science and technology.”

Jillian Watt, Director of the Glasgow Caledonian University Foundation, said: “I would like to thank the Scottish Power Foundation for supporting our ground-breaking and award winning widening access initiative. Donations to the Foundation enable GCU to transform the lives of talented young people and we are very grateful to Scottish Power for helping even more pupils to study STEM subjects at the Advanced Higher Hub and to benefit from this unique bridging programme.”

The Advanced Higher Hub began as a partnership between GCU, Glasgow City Council, and the Scottish Funding Council. It celebrated a pass rate of 88% yesterday [August 8] and has recorded outstanding results of 90% in 2015 and 91% in 2016. It was awarded the SQA Pride o’Worth Award for Centres as well as the Partnership of the Year at the Scottish Qualification Authority-run awards. It is the first university to employ school teachers on its campus and year-on-year it has achieved outstanding results.