Winter Leaver Programme

A new, alternative pathway for winter leavers (exceptional entrants) to NESCol.

A winter leaver, also known as an exceptional entrant to college, is a young person who wishes to leave school after S4, but whose 16th birthday falls between 1 October and 28/29 February of that year. These young people’s date of birth requires them to remain in school until the winter break. 

Typically, an exceptional entrant would apply for and enrol on a full-time course at NESCol following S4, but – between August and the end of the year – would officially still be a school pupil. Under these circumstances, those aged under 16 are still the responsibility of their school and the local authority. They will continue to have a named guidance teacher at school, and remain on the school roll until their legal school leaving date. The attendance of these young people at College is reported to their school, alongside any behavioural concerns.

business student in a classroom situation

The Programme

Construction student in a workshop.

The Winter Leaver Programme is an alternative pathway for exceptional entrants and is delivered as part of the Scottish Funding Council’s Pathfinder Project Pilot. The same conditions apply in that those students are still the responsibility of their school, however, rather than enrolling on a course that runs from August to the following June, those on the Winter Leaver Programme can enrol on one of three courses which will run from August to January, giving them a fast-track qualification at SCQF Level 4 or 5.

Applying for a Winter Leaver Programme course will not stop you from applying for another full time College course as an exceptional entrant.

Benefits of the programme

  • Achieve a qualification in a shorter space of time.
  • High level of support and guidance is provided throughout the course.
  • Opportunities to meet with employers related to your chosen area of study.
  • Benefit from career planning support from Skills Development Scotland.
  • Gain transferrable/meta skills related to your chosen area of study.
  • Learn in state-of-the art facilities at NESCol campuses, including hairdressing salons, kitchens and workshops.


Three different courses are being offered across our three main campuses.

How to apply

  • Suitable candidates will be nominated by their individual schools.
  • Applications open on 31 January 2024 and close on 14 March 2024.
  • An information session will take place in April 2024.

Construction: Winter Leaver Programme

An entry level introduction to the key construction trades.

Location: Aberdeen Altens Campus

Construction: Winter Leaver Programme

Hairdressing: Winter Leaver Programme

Build the fundamental skills required to pursue further training or employment in the hairdressing industry.

Location: Aberdeen City Campus

Hairdressing: Winter Leaver Programme

Hospitality: Winter Leaver Programme

Build essential skills in working in both kitchen and front of house environments within the hospitality sector.

Location: Fraserburgh Campus

Hospitality: Winter Leaver Programme

Get in touch

For further information, please contact