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Scholarship update - Borders Young Talent

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

For my latest blog, I wanted to introduce the work of a award-winning widening access project we are supporting, Borders Young Talent (BYT), which is having a positive impact on young people in the Scottish Borders.

While many will more commonly associate our Scholarship work with the Journey to Success programme, which now supports over 600 young people through university, our Widening Access programme also continues to grow. Within this, we work with partners to develop projects that support the fair access agenda in Scotland. These partnerships develop over time as we work collaboratively to build an evidence base that can feed into national initiatives such as the Fair Access Framework.
BYT is a good example of this, emerging from our relationship with Borders College, and we were thrilled to see the results of a recent external evaluation which brought to life the project's impact over the past three years. This evaluation was carried out by Arrivo Consulting and anyone who wishes to see the full report can contact me directly.

How the project works

BYT is  linked to Borders College’s Schools Academy programme which provides vocationally-based learning at the College to S4-S6 pupils. It is a targeted programme for young people attending a Schools Academy course who are care experienced, young carers, experiencing disadvantage because of social or rural deprivation or at risk of disengagement from education due to their behaviours or poor attendance.

The project employs three part-time mentors (managed by a co-ordinator who is a team leader in the College's student services department) who are matched with young people  with a view to sustaining their Schools Academy course and developing goals for their post-school destination. 

Crucially, the mentors provide a link between the young person, the College and the schools, not only offering support but also acting as an advocate when necessary. The fact that they’re not attached to the school has been shown to be a key element of building trust. Having someone outside of school to talk to ensures the focus is on the young person and what they need to do to work towards success in education and beyond.

" gave me the motivation to continue..." - Mentee (taken from full evaluation report)

Impact and Future

In the first three years of the programme, a total of 72 young people have participated in BYT and in 2017-18 over 85% of participants either achieved or partially achieved the Schools Academy award. Meanwhile, 15 of the 18 young people who were mentored in the first year of the award are now in education, employment or training two years on, which has been extremely encouraging to see. 
The evaluation also found that participants were more confident and positive about themselves, more able to ask questions and ask for help and more aware of how their behaviours impacted on others. Participants also said that BYT had helped them to sustain their Schools Academy course and progress onto a full-time college course, as well as helping them to develop a longer-term career plan.
The College recently received the ‘Highly Commended Project 2018’ award at the Scottish Mentoring Network Recognition Awards for the success of BYT. Indeed, such has been the positivity around the project, we were delighted to extend our financial support for a further two years in Autumn 2018.
However, who better to tell you about the project than the BYT team themeselves? See our video below to hear about the project in their own words.