New courses launched for winter school leavers

February 21, 2024

North East Scotland College has launched a new programme of courses for school pupils who are set to become winter leavers. These courses are fast-track vocational qualifications that will create progression opportunities into further study or work.

A winter leaver is a young person who wishes to leave school after S4, but whose 16th birthday falls between 1 October and the end of February during the next school year. Their date of birth usually requires them to remain in school until the winter break.

However, a winter leaver, also known as an exceptional entrant, can access a full-time course at college in this time, but would remain the responsibility of their school until the end of December. Full-time courses run for a full academic year from August to June.

The Winter Leaver Programme is an alternative to this pathway. It allows participants on one of the designated courses the opportunity to gain an industry-recognised qualification at College before the winter break. This means that when they are no longer required to be in full-time education, they have a qualification as well as skills and experience to take into their next step, whether that is further study or employment.

There are three fast-track qualifications available as part of the Winter Leaver Programme. Each of the courses has 15 places available.

  • Construction (SCQF Level 5) at Altens Campus
    • Aberdeen Altens Campus
  • Hairdressing (SCQF Level 4) at City Campus
    • Aberdeen City Campus
  • Hospitality (SCQF Level 5) at Fraserburgh Campus

These courses will provide students with a hands-on learning experience in our purpose-built College facilities. They will also incorporate the teaching of core skills, delivered in context so pupils can understand their importance – for example, craft maths in Construction.

Alongside this, NESCol has been working closely with partners at both local authorities as well as DYW North East and Skills Development Scotland on ways to enhance the students’ experience on a Winter Leaver Programme course.

Each pathway will provide opportunities for enriching employer engagement and the development of both industry-relevant and meta skills. A bespoke skills unit is being developed for the programme, which will create opportunities for students to document their skills and demonstrate these skills to future employers or education providers.

The courses will begin with a short three week induction in June, so that students are introduced to the college, their lecturers, their classmates, and the course itself ahead of summer break. There will also be opportunities for engagement over the holidays.

Applications for the programme are made through school. Any interested pupils should speak to their guidance teacher to find out more.