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"Forestry and Rural Skills were great for me. Then I had a work placement. That's when I knew I wanted to be a gamekeeper.
And now I am."
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Queensberry Initiative
Wallace Hall Academy
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Queensberry Estate

Vocational Courses

Vocational Courses are a key part of the Queensberry Initiative offering qualifications and opportunities within the traditional curriculum for an enhanced education experience using Queensberry Estate and other community facilities. We are very proud to have piloted some of our vocational courses and are still as far as we know the only secondary school in Scotland to offer Forestry and Activity Tourism to school age students.

The courses currently being offered have been a huge success and we look to expand these, ensuring that our pupils are being challenged and stimulated. When looking at new possible course we first look at the needs of the region we live in and aim to provide our pupils with an insight into possible local careers.

Rural Skills Intermediate 1 and 2 have been offered for a few years now. The pupils have 3 periods in the classroom looking at agricultural theory and employability skills while the other 2 periods are spent getting out and often muddy on local farms, carrying out all farm tasks from dosing to weighing, to scanning to fencing.

We find that the rural skills course gives pupils of all abilities the opportunity to shine. Whether it's a S6 pupil looking to enhance their university application or a less academic student whose skills are in more hands-on work environment, the benefits are easy to spot.

Forestry Skills is currently being delivered as a module with students undertaking forestry tasks including tree thinning, planting, and identification. This is delivered 2 periods per each week. We have been able to run this as a result of our partnerships with Buccleuch Estates, SRUC Barony Campus, Forestry Commission and James Jones & Sons.

Managing Environmental Resources is offered at Intermediate 1, using a practical approach to encourage pupils to consider environmental issues and land use in a local context. MER impacts on many careers. An Intermediate 1 qualification allows progression into other Biological and Geographical areas and particularly impacts on work related to forestry, agriculture, aquaculture, conservation, horticulture, food industries, and other land based careers.

Construction Skills is run in partnership with the Dumfries and Galloway College. The course is taught through a mix of theory and practical lessons which can include painting and brick laying. This gives students looking to go into a career within the construction trade a head start with experience and knowledge. Employability Skills are also built into this course.

The Motor Vehicle this course has been a huge success. Dumfries and Galloway College have provided a college lecturer twice a week and with two local businesses kindly offering premises to work in and vehicles to work on the pupils receive great practical experience.

Hospitality: the aim of this course is to develop the students' awareness of, and skills required for, successful local food production. It will appeal to those who may wish to pursue a career in the hospitality industry as well as those who simply enjoy cooking.

We set up a Hair and Beauty course using our Drama changing rooms with the support from local beauty and hairdressing businesses and Dumfries and Galloway College.

We have piloted a new Intermediate 1 Activity Tourism Course and are now in our second year of offering this qualification. With Dumfries and Galloway being a great location for active, outdoor pursuits and with the growth in business starts ups in this area, we feel this offers career potential for our students within the tourism sector. This course is currently offered to Sixth Year students, many of whom pursue this qualification to expand and enhance their CV's.