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Bridge to Employment Residential

12 Students from Charleston Academy joined others from Dornoch Academy and other schools to take part in a residential weekend as part of their Bridge to Employment Year 2 Programme.

Students attended Loch Inch Waterports Centre over Friday 4th to Sunday 6th November.

This is part of the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce Initiative. Students were joined by mentors and coaches from partner companies that included Scottish and Southern Energy, Lifescan and others.

As well as taking part in outdoor activities, including archery, canoeing and open-boating the young people also focussed on Team Work and Problem Solving Activities, set individual objectives for the coming year and began work on an innovation project. They had to do this under the careful watch of two of the biggest employers in Inverness and the Highlands.

Well done to everyone taking part in a very successful residential weekend.

Miss Rona Macpherson, Depute Rector

S4 Bridge to Employment: Ashfield Music Festival

At our second STEMinar on Thursday 19 November we learnt how Physics is applied during the planning of a music festival. At the start of the day we were assigned different roles within our group of six eg Project Manager, Sound Engineer and Health and Safety Advisor.

Throughout the day we learnt what was involved in each job. In the afternoon we had to work together to put forward a plan and detailed costs for a music festival with the aid of a poster. Our presentations had to convince a panel of judges to provide us with the funding needed for a festival.

Overall we really enjoyed this STEMinar and it helped to improve our team working and communication skills as well as boosting our confidence.

by Sami Cochrane (4T) and Gabi Gill (4L)


Samantha Cochrane (4T1)
Samantha Cochrane (4T1)
Gabrielle Gill (4L1)
Gabrielle Gill (4L1)








Read more about Bridge to Employment HERE. It is delivered in partnership with several companies, including Scottish and Southern Energy and Lifescan.

S4 Bridge to Employment pupils:

Danielle Ross 4K1; Gabrielle Gill 4L1; Bruce Campbell 4L2; Ashwin Crombie 4L2; Jacob Hodgson 4L2; Eilidh McCormick  4L2; Adam; MacDougall 4L2; Tyler Whitty 4L2; Szymon Kryszczyszyn 4S1; Miar Kyle 4S1; Sasha Brandon 4T; Samantha Cochrane 4T; Robbie Henderson 4T; Megan Meldrum 4T; Ross Watson 4T.

Bridge to Employment

Bridge to Employment is an education-business Partnership Programme set up to help young people in Scotland improve their employability skills.  Within Highland each school has a different partner company. Charleston Academy is partnered with  SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)  along with Lochaber and Glen Urquhart High Schools.  Other organisations involved in the delivery of BTE include HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports) Cap Gemini, LifeScan, the CITB (Construction Industry Training board) and the University of the Highlands and Islands .


Previously a one-year programme for S4 students, Bridge to Employment now gives young people the opportunity to extend the programme for a second year into S5:

Year 1: S4

We have an enthusiastic group of 15 S4 pupils who have joined the programme.

In June the group attended the initial Bridge to Employment team building day at the Black Isle showground. During the day the pupils participated in a series of outdoor practical challenges.

Following a very successful visit to Torr Achilty hydroelectric power station and the windfarm at Fairburn organised by Scottish and Southern Energy  in the first week of term the S4 pupils are now working on a British Safety Council Award in Workplace Hazard Awareness”.

The S4 Bridge to Employment group will be out of school attending 3 days of STEMinars during this session: on 15 September 2015, 17 November 2015 and in 22 January 2016  A STEMinar ( STEM = Science Technology Engineering and Maths) is a practical problem solving activity run by each of the partner companies (Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) , Cap Gemini, Lifescan and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited).

Year 2: S5

Ten pupils have chosen to continue with Year 2 of the Bridge to Employment programme. They have all been given a mentor from one of the partner companies and have been meeting with them on a regular basis for one to one discussions

The key aims of this mentoring scheme are:

  1. to build confidence and discover the pupil’s strengths
  2. to broaden the pupils horizons and aspirations
  3. to develop their life and employability skills
  4. to help them get to know themselves better

On 28 -30 August the Year 2 group attended a residential weekend held at Active Outdoor Pursuits at Craigower Lodge in Newtonmore.

The aims of this weekend were to improve team working between participants, to develop employability skills and to begin gathering evidence for their CoPE qualification (Certificate of personal Effectiveness).

On the Friday evening the pupils took part in a series of team building exercises along with pupils from Glenurquhart High School, Lochaber High School, Nairn Academy and Culloden Academy. Saturday was spent outdoors: learning the new skills of canoeing and rock climbing and abseiling.  Saturday evening was spent working on a project to deliver a group presentation about the benefits of participating in the Bridge to Employment project. On Sunday morning pupils were involved in a community project (dry stone dyking) at the Folk Museum at Newtonmore or volunteering in the Lodge and then returned to Craigower Lodge to deliver their presentations to representatives from the partner companies (Scottish and Southern Energy and Cap Gemini). It was a busy and challenging weekend and the pupils were given an excellent opportunity to develop their communication and problem solving skills

On Tuesday 8 September the Fifth Year group took part in the launch of their Health and Wellbeing project at Glenurquhart High School. The aim of the project is to prepare a group presentation to raise awareness of a work related health and wellbeing issue eg stress, heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Parents will be invited to a presentation evening in October and the winning team will then present their project to the management of Scottish and Southern Energy. This project will allow the pupils to achieve an additional National 5 unit in Skills for Work (Health Sector) Improving Health and Wellbeing Awareness.

Charleston Academy and Highland Council are committed to the Bridge to Employment Programme and the vocational opportunities and skills participation in it provides for our young people working with our Partners. This was re-affirmed at a recent meeting of the Director of care and Learning, Bill Alexander and the partnership companies we work with.

Mrs Susan Ritson, PT Guidance

Bridge to Employment Success

The first year of Bridge to Employment came to a formal end on Wednesday evening with a graduation ceremony in the Drumnadrochit Hotel.

Three groups from Charleston Academy presented posters based on their favourite STEMinar of the programme.  Each group had five minutes to present this to the three judges before being asked challenging questions based on their poster.  We had two posters based on the LifeScan STEMinar about Diabetes and one based on the Highlands and Islands Airports STEMinar about functions of an Airport.  All the pupils were very confident and articulate in their presentations and dealt well with the questions.  They were able to demonstrate clear team work throughout. Congratulations to team FCRS – Fergus, Charlie, Rowan and Sirena who won a prize for best presentation.

The pupils now have the choice to continue with the programme for one or two more years.  During this time they will develop more leadership skills as well as further qualifications.  In preparation for this they have one further session in school on 10th March which focuses on employability skills and interview techniques.  Partners from Scottish and Southern Energy will be on hand to give advice from an employer’s perspective.

The pupils have all shown commitment over the last eight months attending various STEMinars after school and have grown in confidence as a result.  They have had their knowledge of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths enhanced.  This has also benefited the school as we have now identified close links with many different employers in the area.

Congratulations to all the pupils who graduated on Wednesday.

Miss Rona Macpherson, Depute Rector

Bridge to Employment Graduation

Our S4 Bridge to Employment pupils have been putting the finishing touches to their presentations this week. Having almost completed their programme for this year, the BTE pupils will be graduating at a special event to be held at the Glenurquhart Hotel in Drumnadrochit on Wednesday evening. The parents of all of the pupils have been invited to the graduation which will involve presentations by pupils from all schools, judging by BTE partners including SSE and Lifescan complemented by a buffet reception. Good luck to the Charleston Bridge to Employment pupils.

See Highland Council’s Press Release about this event.

Bridge to Employment Programme

Fifteen S4 pupils have been taking part in the Bridge to Employment scheme this year.  The school is working in partnership with Scottish and Southern Energy along with pupils from Glenurquhart High and Lochaber High.  The scheme aims to enhance employability skills and raise awareness of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Pupils have a series of STEMinars from Lifescan, Highlands and Islands Airports and Cap Gemini.  UHI are also partners to this initiative and they are hosting a live link up to the USA in January where pupils will have an opportunity to watch live surgery.

The pupils are growing in confidence and are working well with the pupils from the other schools as can be seen from the pictures from the latest STEMinar where they had to work in teams to build a model wind turbine.

Previous STEMinars have seen them debating the best route for a power line,  planning to use technology to enhance a community event, investigating the effects of enzymes on sugar, changing a wheel and designing infrastructure for a new town.  This has required a huge commitment from the pupils with visits to Lochaber, Drumnadrochit and Torachilty Power station.  They will now be preparing for their poster presentation and the graduation in February.

Miss Rona Macpherson, Depute Rector & Bridge to Employment Coordinator

Bridge to Employment

Our Bridge to Employment pupils attended their Graduation Ceremony at Millburn Academy on Tuesday 26th February. The pupils had completed posters ahead of the event which were judged on the evening. Parents and friends attended, a superb buffet was served by Artysans Cafe, and the evening was hosted by Lifescan, key partners for the Bridge to Employment programme.


Bridge to Employment

On August 28th, five pupils from Charleston Academy‘s Bridge to Employment group travelled down to The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) centre in Oban to get an insight as to what it is like working in an industrial research facility.

The group – Catherine Howie, James Hogan, Ryan Leslie, Blake Allan, and Steven Macleod – were taken on a tour around the facilities and were able to see many of the experiments that were being carried out by the scientists there. These included research into; ocean dynamics (monitoring ocean currents and the effect they have on climate change), deep sea discovery (one of the guest speakers had recently discovered several new species of marine life in the Indian ocean), ocean acidification (the scientists involved in this will go to California to present their results to an international audience) and a study into how man-made objects (such as the legs of an oil-rig) can affect the marine life of the oceans. Although it was a rainy day, and the bus was delayed due to a landslide, spirits were not dampened as the pupils had the opportunity to get talk to the scientists at the facility and catch up with pupils from the other schools undertaking the programme. The pupils were also able to get “hands-on” with some of the equipment used in what was an enjoyable day for all those involved.

On Tuesday 4th September the Bridge to Employment group set off at 8am for the journey to Thurso. We were split in to three groups to tour round the three different aspects of the ERI and ETECH facilities.

The three sections were: Ecology, Analytical Chemistry, and Engineering

During the analytical chemistry lab we used chromatography, a technique used to analyse environmental toxicity. We separated the dye in inks to show that chemicals move at different rates due to their solubility and then we separated the photosynthetic pigments of spinach.
During the ecology lab we learned about how new species are named and then used a complex scientific key to identify 10 species of shell.

The ETECH building is newly opened and is used to train engineers, electricians and plumbers in the skills required to build marine renewable energy. We had the chance to build solar cells to power wind turbines.

Despite the long journey and the skylight of the bus coming off in a howling gale it was an enjoyable day and we had the chance to meet up with the other people from Bridge to Employment and ―get the banter‖!

Alan, Rhune, Peter, and Gillies, Bridge to Employment Pupils

Vocational Skills at the Black Isle Show

On Wednesday the 10th of June, 14 S4 Charleston pupils travelled to the Black Isle Show ground with 172 other pupils from Highland schools.  We arrived in the morning and were put into separate groups made up of pupils from different schools to practice our team building skills. Throughout the day we did various challenges and tasks set up by different companies to do with STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  The tasks ranged from being blind folded and guided around an obstacle course by a partner to working in a team building a tower out of newspapers. One of our teams constructed the highest tower of the day – which reached a height of 4.5 metres!

Our favourite challenges were building the tower and also going through an obstacle course with a 70kg dummy. We liked these tasks as they helped us build our teamwork skills and develop our leadership skills while also making new friends with pupils from Lochaber and Glen Urquhart Schools.

Throughout the whole experience we learnt more about the Bridge to Employment scheme and what it is all about. We have the choice to continue with the Programme until Sixth year.

Bridge to Employment is an education-business partnership programme set up to help young people in Scotland improve their employability skills.  Within Highland Region each school has a different partner company for instance ours is SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)  along with Lochaber and Glen Urquhart High Schools.  Other organisations involved in the delivery of BTE include HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports) Cap Gemini, LifeScan, the CITB (Construction Industry Training board) and the University of the Highlands and Islands .

Throughout the year we will go out on various trips to discover what it is like to work in the energy industry and how important STEM is to many of the jobs and careers that we may wish to have in the future.

Overall we enjoyed our first day of the Bridge to Employment programme and we have decided already that we want to continue with it until we decide to leave school.

by Sami Cochrane (4T), Megan Meldrum (4T) and Sasha Brandon (4T)

Samantha Cochrane (4T)
Samantha Cochrane (4T)
Megan Meldrum (4T)
Megan Meldrum (4T)
Sasha Brandon (4T)
Sasha Brandon (4T)


Easter Holidays

Our Easter Holidays are from Friday 3 April to Sunday 19 April. Best wishes to everyone for a well deserved holiday. Senior Students should be revising for important exams during the break. There are a number of revision sessions or days for various subjects run by staff giving up precious holiday time to support you. Please attend those that are relevant – See the Schedule.

We reopen for everyone on Monday 20 April. S3 Assembly will be about Bridge to Employment with interviews then taking place from 9:30am.

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