Increasing numbers of schools are creating real-life working environments on site, but few can boast the riches of Newbattle Community High School. Its students are brushing up on their hairdressing skills in their very own salon, complete with six styling positions, two backwashes and a reception area.
However, excellent vocational training takes more than good facilities, as Joyce Knox, the head of business, ICT, enterprise and vocational education at Newbattle, recognises, which is why Newbattle set up a partnership with GTC-registered hairdressing educator Lynda McGivern, director of Ambition Centre of Training, to lead the training. All 12 students are working towards their SQA Skills for Work Intermediate 1 Hairdressing qualification.
Joyce says: ‘With ACT, the pupils study for an accredited qualification, supported by work placements. This provides a chance for students to experience the world of work within the hairdressing industry.
‘Lynda from ACT also brings in other industry experts to enhance the learning experience and organises presentation days which involve the students working with students from other schools. Last year’s group were also given the opportunity to attend a hairdressing convention,” Joyce adds. “It makes a huge difference to the whole learning experience for the girls to be taught by professional hairdressers with commercial experience.’
Each pupil has to build her own portfolio throughout the two-year course, with a mannequin head to dress and practise on. Joyce and Lynda believe it is the experience of running the salon which is so powerful. The students have to deal with clients and market the ‘business’. Glossy, glamorous posters are dotted around the school promoting the salon, which offers its services to pupils, teachers and support staff, who can make appointments to have their hair washed and styled. These appointments and any money taken have to be managed by the students.
Newbattle now hopes to offer the use of its salon, fully equipped, to other schools, which will also be able to work with ACT to offer their pupils a positive learning experience within hairdressing. Course delivery is cost-effective but it also proves a worthwhile vocational opportunity for pupils, who can ready themselves for work in a realistic and engaging environment.