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ACVO News May 2024

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Feb 19, 2024

Unlocking Potential with Aberlour Futures’ Foundation Apprenticeship Programme

Aberlour Futures, part of Aberlour Children’s Charity, is an SQA accredited training centre that delivers comprehensive courses and qualifications for the early learning and school-aged childcare workforce in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

One notable programme is their Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services (Children and Young People) SCQF 6, a one-year course designed for S5-6 secondary school students in Aberdeen.

Equivalent to a Higher qualification, this programme covers both theoretical and practical elements. Students learn skills suitable for a career working with children and young people, whilst simultaneously gaining real-life experience in a workplace setting.

Speaking with ACVO News, Susan Greig, Aberlour Futures Service Manager, Linda Strachan and Hannah Simpson, SQA Assessors and Tutors, discuss the Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) programme and share the benefits of the qualification for students.

“Working as a tutor for Aberlour’s FA programme involves teaching theory classes twice a week for students within school, as well as visiting them at their work placement setting which they attend once a week,” Hannah says.

“The theory that the students learn in class is put it into practice during their work placement, making it a fully beneficial, well-rounded experience.

“We develop the course materials in line with SQA standards for the FA programme, and each year we regularly review and refine our approach to ensure the course suits the student’s needs.”

Susan expands on this: “What makes Aberlour stand out is our method of delivery. We deliver the programme in schools where they feel more secure.

“The students are familiar with a school environment, they have additional support onsite from the school if they need it and of course from our Aberlour tutors.”

“It is a challenging but rewarding course that ensures students are well-equipped for starting a career working with children and young people,” Linda adds.

“We need to make sure that people who work to support children are the best qualified and experienced.”

Students are required to have or be studying at least three National 5 subjects, including English, for entry to the FA programme. They also need a supporting personal statement from themselves and their guidance teachers to ensure that the course is the right choice for them.

“The Foundation Apprenticeship is a great qualification,” Susan says.

The theory that the students learn in class is put it into practice during their work placement, making it a fully beneficial, well-rounded experience.

“With our support at Aberlour, we can help get that young person to a place where they really engage, really enjoy and even consider other occupations that they had not considered before.”

While the FA programme is popular amongst students aspiring to work within the childcare sector, the qualification opens a wide variety of different career pathways for young people.

Linda highlights this, saying: “We often see young people who study the course become social workers, teachers, paediatricians, counsellors, even going to work in family law. The FA programme gives them a starting point, helping them understand children’s development and working with others which can help with these types of careers.

“The qualification covers a range of skills including communication, health and safety and safeguarding. These are all transferable skills that the young people can carry over to other jobs.

“We also cover meta skills which are highly sought by a lot of employers, such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.”

“As part of the FA programme, we deliver Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities where we provide additional training experiences for our students,” says Susan.

“This is when we have industry experts come into class to share their expertise with students, such as the art of storytelling and outdoor play, giving them ideas that they can use in their work placements.

“We also invite professionals from a range of careers into school to talk and engage with the pupils.”

“For example, we recently had a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a speech and language therapist come into one of my classes to speak about their roles in the children and young people sector,” Hannah says.

“These talks give the students an opportunity to ask these professionals questions and to find out more about a particular career. The professionals share a lot of stories from their role which is nice because it makes it more relatable for the students.

“Again, this allows our students to see the possibilities of the FA programme, and to open their eyes to the different career pathways that they can follow with their qualification.”

Speaking further about the benefits of the FA qualification, Linda discusses the opportunity for students to work to their own pace: “Although there are still timescales to be met, we accommodate students who need some extra support.

“It is also very much a group feel and a nice nurturing environment where the students are treated like young adults.”

“This continues into the work placement as well,” Hannah adds. “They are not just treated as a student; they are treated as part of the team.

“Whether they are in a nursery or having a one-to-one with the teacher who is in their class, the student is respected across the board.

“Having the opportunity to work with other professionals as an equal, gaining real-life experience, and seeing what their future could look like when working with children and young people is a huge benefit of the FA programme.”

We want schools and professionals to understand the worth of a Foundation Apprenticeship.

“At Aberlour Futures we have a great team, we are all so passionate about making a difference to the young people we work with and go above and beyond to make this happen” says Susan.

“I feel really proud of the students that I tutor,” says Hannah. “Especially when I go and visit them on placement. I can see they have really taken on board what they have been learning in class by putting theory into practice.

“Even little things like making sure they are at the same physical level when talking to a child, rather than speaking down at them. It shows that the students are listening and caring about how they are making that child feel. It is really rewarding to see.”

Linda echoes this, saying: “I feel utter pride being able to play a part in their career progression, and essentially their story. We see their confidence build throughout the duration of the FA course, and you can’t help but feel absolute pride seeing everything that they achieve.”

“We want schools and professionals to understand the worth of a Foundation Apprenticeship,” Linda continues.

“It is for students that want to learn something different, by choosing this vocational qualification they can ensure that this is the pathway they want to take.”

“We encourage any young person to get in touch, or speak with their guidance teachers, if they believe the FA programme would be of benefit to them and their future in working with children and young people.”

If you or anyone you know would be interested in finding out more about Aberlour Futures’ Foundation Apprenticeship programme, please visit their website at, email or call 01224 518571.

This article originally appeared in the February edition of ACVO News, you can read the magazine and subscribe below. All past editions are available to read at

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