Funding Boost for First Chances Fife

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Many more school pupils from throughout Fife will get the chance to benefit from exciting learning opportunities at Fife College and the University of St Andrews thanks to new funding from The Robertson Trust.

The College and University have been granted funding for a further three-years to extend and develop their successful partnership access programme, First Chances Fife, to help break down barriers to learning for pupils from the area.

The two education institutions were delighted to hear they are to receive a further £567,000 of funding from The Robertson Trust to expand the programme which focuses on raising the aspirations and attainment of school pupils from P7 to S6. 

The new funding will support the programme to be rolled out across the Kingdom to potentially work with all 18 secondary schools and 10 primary school clusters. The aim being to enable over 1,800 pupils in academic year 2021/22 to take advantage of an exciting range of workshops and activities run by the College and University in partnership with the schools.

Throughout the programme pupils develop their skills in literacy, numeracy, science and technology as well as spending time visiting the College and University to meet students and staff in a range of tailored activities organised just for them. The pupils also have direct access to the amazing range of resources available at both Fife College and the University of St Andrews giving them a fantastic boost to their learning.

The First Chances Fife programme plays an important part in widening access as outlined in the recent ‘Widening Access 2017-18 Report’ by the Scottish Funding Council, published at the end of May. The report outlines the fundamental role colleges play in providing opportunities for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds through access to further and higher education.

This commitment to fair access and social inclusion by the sector is also helping to reduce poverty and increase inclusive economic growth. 

The partnership shared their experiences of working together and the benefits of First Chances Fife to staff from colleges and universities across Scotland at College Expo19, a two-day conference held at Perth College UHI which showcased innovative work in colleges.

Iain Hawker, Assistant Principal at Fife College, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding from The Robertson Trust which is supporting our First Chances Fife programme to be rolled out to an increased number of schools, enabling more young people, who may face barriers to learning and progression, to benefit from the programme.

“This is the second year that Fife College has been involved in First Chances Fife and we are very pleased to be part of this unique partnership. By utilising the strengths of each partner we can maximise the effect of our work, widening opportunities and transforming the lives of young people in Fife.

“It was great to also share our experience of the programme with colleagues from colleges across Scotland at the recent College Expo19 event, showcasing this Fife College as a leader in its field with regards to partnership work and widening opportunities.”

Gordon Hunt, Head of Scholarship and Learning at The Robertson Trust said: “The Robertson Trust is committed to supporting projects which can help to remove barriers to participation and support transitions to further and higher education.

“We are delighted to continue our support of First Chances, which has already made excellent progress in Fife.

“We hope that the increased reach will result in more young people having access to all the benefits – educational, social and cultural, that further and higher education can bring.”

Mike Johnson, Deputy Director of Admissions, University of St Andrews, said:  “The University of St Andrews is delighted that this partnership has grown significantly since it started as a single year project run by the University 12 years ago. It is only through such partnerships will we see the greatest impact. The support that ‘First Chances Fife’ provides ensures pupils will have the opportunity to make the most of their potential and also make the most of their first chances.”