IT has helped secure a position at Cambridge University for a youth from one of Scotland’s most deprived regions. Now, a program that seeks to reduce educational inequality could help thousands of more students achieve their potential.
The pandemic may have caused widespread education disruption, but Glasgow Caledonian University says the implementation of blended learning has provided an opportunity to expand the program, which has benefited Rachel Thomson from Govan, Glasgow.
After earning three A grades in history, math and chemistry at Advanced Higher Level, the 17-year-old won a coveted position at Cambridge this year to study economics.
The teenager was one of the success stories of the new Advanced Higher Hub cohort of GCU, which aims to open up more possibilities for students with restricted access to qualifications in subjects needed for high-demand courses such as medicine and dentistry.
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GCU was the first university in Scotland to employ educators to provide students in and around Glasgow with nine Advanced High Schools in subjects such as algebra, English, biology, physics and chemistry.
Via a collaboration with E-Sgoil, the curriculum will now extend to students across Scotland. E-Sgoil was founded in 2016 to provide students in the Western Isles with online resources, but is now supporting teens around the world.
Licensed teachers offer online lessons to students around Scotland from its base in Stornoway.
E-Sgoil is now partnering with GCU following negotiations with Education Scotland to provide resources for after-school learning in a variety of sixth-form subjects, complementing ongoing work in National 5 and Higher Tutoring.
Only students already studying these subjects in the sixth form are currently being sponsored, although it is hoped that the service will eventually be extended to provide full tuition for adolescents who are unable to afford school courses.
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The program’s director, Eleanor Wilson, said, “This year, the Hub is offering national blended learning qualifications, expanding the value-added and university experience we offer to prepare students for their next steps.”
“We noticed there was a gap in e-offering Sgoil’s as its timetable didn’t include many options to support advanced study,” he said.
We approached them and asked if we would be willing to extend their offerings.
“So we’re very excited to extend our Advanced Higher learning offer to a wider audience, and very excited to work with students nationally to support this excellent addition to the national e-learning offer.”
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In order to replace the Sixth Year Studies Diploma, Advanced Highers were implemented in 2001 and are effectively the equivalent of the first year of university studies in that specific subject. Now, with the same grades, they earn more UCAS tariff points than A levels.
Research has, however, found a performance difference between private and state schools, with stronger outcomes being usually obtained by the former.
Usually, Oxford and Cambridge universities require four As at the Higher Level, plus three as entry criteria at the Advanced Higher Level. In collaboration with Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Funding Council, GCU’s Bridging Program is run.
Angus Maclennan, e-director, Sgoil’s said the software currently manages 6,000 student requests for courses in all 32 local Scottish authorities, and said blended learning has provided an unexpected opportunity to enhance educational achievement.
“We’re excited to be able to expand the courses we offer. This kind of collaboration makes it more inclusive, accessible and equitable for students across Scotland.”