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ASDAN Education: Building a culture of achievement


The following article, by Heather Aitken, ASDAN national manager for Scotland, appeared in the November 2012 edition of School Leaders Scotland magazine.

ASDAN Education – Building a culture of achievement through skills for learning, skills for employment and skills for life.

The ASDAN ‘wardrobe’ unlike my own has something to fit everyone as it straddles the pre and post 16 experiences of students in schools and colleges by offering a progressive series of programmes and qualifications for a wide range of abilities, from gifted and talented pupils aspiring to university entrance to students with profound and multiple learning difficulties whose capabilities are very different but whose needs for recognition and reward are very similar. The essential skills of Enterprise, Employability, Sustainable Development and Citizenship are a focus of our ‘wardrobe’

Who are we and what do we do?

ASDAN Education is a social enterprise and qualifications awarding body, providing courses to more than 6,000 UK and international schools, including primary, secondary and special schools as well as colleges, youth centres and training providers. ASDAN’s programmes can be completed alongside traditional qualifications and offer flexible ways to accredit skills for learning, skills for employment and skills for life.

ASDAN's charitable purpose is: “The advancement of education, by providing opportunities for all learners to develop their personal and social attributes and levels of achievement through ASDAN awards and resources, and the relief of poverty, where poverty inhibits such opportunities for learners.” A charitable fund offering grants is in place to support ‘the relief of poverty’.

Skills for learning

Our programmes and qualifications can make a measurable difference to learners’ motivation, engagement, confidence, capacity to learn and thus outcomes .Wherever ASDAN is used, developing and accrediting personal skills and personal effectiveness brings rich rewards in other areas of performance. Pupil progress matters more than ever; it is becoming a dominant factor in the judgements made on inspection. In this respect, the true value of ASDAN programmes and qualifications comes to the fore:

  • We specialise in active, experiential and meaningful learning
  • We stand for the essential role of the practitioner in making professional judgements
  • We champion the development and accreditation of non-formal and informal learning
  • We value above all the ‘N’ in ASDAN, which stands for our network of practitioners and our partnerships with like-minded organisations

A recent study from the University of the West of England of more than half a million pupils found that young people who passed one of our qualifications , CoPE , raised their chances of achieving GCSE A* to C grades in English by 10% and achieving five A* to C including English and maths by 5%. The impact was most significant on those in less privileged educational groups. Researchers found the course engaged and motivated young people, and gave them the learning skills required to up their marks in what ministers consider to be more rigorous subjects.

In Scotland ASDAN’s programmes and qualifications have been used since the early 1980’s and are mapped to the experiences and outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence. A whole school approach has been adopted by many where ASDAN is used either as an award programme or qualification in every year group. Several authorities are also working with ASDAN to provide training and delivering an ASDAN model across all of the schools in their area.

ASDAN has qualifications that sit in the SCQF; the CoPE (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness) qualification at levels 4- 6 and Employability at levels 2- 6. Our qualifications also attract from 30 -70 UCAS points:

UCAS has confirmed that ASDAN qualifications that are allocated points in the existing tariff will be included in the proposed Qualification Information Profile system for HE entry, which may replace the current points system in the future.

Skills for Employment

Learners should be in a better position to ‘sell themselves’ to potential employers by demonstrating and owning a range of skills and qualities that employers look for. Young people need to be encouraged to see the direct relevance of education or training in terms of a route towards a job. At the same time they need to

develop employability skills in real-life contexts. The ASDAN Employability qualifications have national approval in the UK, and have been endorsed by Sector Skills Council with responsibility for Employability. ASDAN is delighted that top employers, representative bodies and entrepreneurs such as the CBI, Waitrose, HSBC, Barclays, the Federation of Small Businesses, Simon Woodroffe (Yo! Sushi), James Caan and Cath Kidston all endorse our qualifications and programmes.

Skills for Life

We offer opportunities for all young people through imaginative programmes and qualifications to :

  • Become confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy
  • Be responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and embrace change
  • Manage risk together with their own wellbeing

as well as introducing them to new activities and personal challenges.

Finally, as the former CEO of ASDAN once said ….ASDAN has the capacity to reach parts that other curricular can’t reach!