More than 700 young people benefit from successful Schools Engagement Programme

Date posted

3 July 2018


Last updated

27 October 2023

A University’s Schools Engagement Programme is continuing to make positive change as it supports more than 700 young people from the south-west of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Napier’s Schools Engagement Programme has been working with young people from Gorgie and Sighthill for the last two years.

Led by the University’s Development and External Relations team, the programme of activities has aimed to address some of the below average performance indicators associated with the south-west with regards to employment, housing, health, crime as well as education, skills and training.

The programme has also been focused on instilling a sense of academic aspiration and pride into participants, alongside highlighting the opportunities and pathways into further and higher education – something that many children from Gorgie and Sighthill may have previously thought was out of reach.

This year alone, the programme has worked with a number of primary six and seven pupils in various activities across the area.

Working in partnership with Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby, the University delivered a range of rugby sessions that focused on basic skills, health and fitness and teamwork.

Futsal skills sessions have also been delivered in partnership with Hutchison Vale Community Football Club and Salveston Football Club, with the Big Hearts Foundation also presenting on how the game can be used as a medium for rebuilding lives in the local community.

Other activities include developing radio and TV campaigns to encourage young people to think about studying at university alongside working with Edinburgh Napier science academics on various exercises and experiments.

The Schools Engagement Programme supports Edinburgh Napier’s Widening Participation strategy and aims to be a key partner in initiatives to close the attainment gap in local schools. The sporting activities alight the University’s Strategy for Sport that is investing in people to build a community of physical activity and health.

Gary Seath, Community and Partnerships Officer at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Edinburgh Napier University believes strongly in its wider role with regards to promoting academic aspiration as well as positive health and well-being and social integration within the local community. The opportunity to participate in sporting and academic taster sessions, as well as engage with positive role models, we hope will serve to inspire, motivate and encourage young people to pursue positive pathways in the future. Should that positive pathway translate to attending university in the future, I hope they can reflect on their earlier, positive experiences at Edinburgh Napier and be reassured that they will be supported at every step of their student journey.”

Sighthill Primary School teach Liza Hunter said: “The staff throughout the sessions were fantastic and, throughout the trip, all of my class were engaged and enthusiastic, so much so that they didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. The children were talking about University which was a complete joy to hear, as many of them may have felt prior to this trip that it was out of their reach.”

Local Ward Councillor Cathy Fullerton added: “I’m proud to represent an area I have lived in all my life. However, this is also the area in Edinburgh that has the highest proportion of child poverty so I welcome and endorse this amazing programme that Edinburgh Napier has delivered with our local schools. The passion and commitment of the Edinburgh Napier team has already resulted in a visible and measurable increase in confidence and engagement with the community and our high schools and primary schools.

“Barriers are being broken down and, going forward, I see the community succeeding in a way that will result in more of our children having happier and more fulfilled lives.”