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Lead Scotland (Specialists in Linking Education and Disability) is a charity that empowers disabled people and carers and those who experience exclusion to improve their lives through learning.

Recognising that many prisoners have a wide range of barriers to learning, including mental ill health and learning difficulties, we worked with the Scottish Prison Service and Fife College to deliver Lead Scotland's SQA Customised Award in Community Action and Leadership to prisoners in HMP & YOI Grampian.

The SQA helped to give prisoners a voice; developed their confidence in approaching service providers with suggestions for positive change; and improved their engagement with the prison community.

Thanks to the Scottish Prison Service, Fife College, SHMU Media Unit, Aberdeenshire Libraries and Dyslexia Scotland who have been so supportive of this work. This pilot project was funded by Big Lottery Investing in Ideas.

Photo: Gayle Kaufmann (Step One) and Emma Whitelock (CEO Lead Scotland)

Working in the Highlands over a period of 6 months, the Highland NTSF project delivered the Lead Scotland SQA Customised Award in Community Action and Leadership to students at Cantraybridge College - a rural skills college for learners with additional support needs.

The qualification is delivered in a group environment and is made up of four units: Self-Awareness and Identity, Active Citizenship, Promoting Inclusion and Influencing Change.

The students learned how to plan talks, voice their opinions and work together. Please watch the video to see more about this wonderful group of learners!

This project was funded by the Skills Development Scotland National Third Sector Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Fund programme.

The Lead Scotland Highland NTSF project also involved delivering and assessment of the Adult Achievement Award.  Some of the students had learning difficulties, autism or
Down Syndrome, which affected their ability to communicate; and to retain and process information.  

The ability to observe students on site was invaluable - taking the learning out of the classroom and spending sessions on the farm, in the cafe, in the greenhouses and even at the compost heap! This enabled them to show the different tasks they’d learned, such as potting plants and picking ripe food; as well as demonstrate knowledge of Health and Safety, and the various protective equipment and tools required. Having the learners in a familiar environment helped them to remember things, communicate better and made them feel at ease with their tutor.

This person-centred learning added an extra dimension to their learning experience, because sharing knowledge with others is also an outcome on their Rowan Growing Award.

For learners who are further removed from the employment market, it’s even more important to gain recognised qualifications that demonstrate their skills to potential employers. This piece of work demonstrates what positive outcomes can be achieved with the right person-centred support for learning.