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OYCI and Alva Academy Help Young Leaders Gain Accreditation

Youth Scotland Youth Awards's Story

In 2017, a group of young people from Alva Academy in Clackmannanshire set out on a special youth-led research project. Their goal was to find out what life was like for 10- to 18-year-olds in their area, but when they realised that youth provision was lacking, they decided to take action. Together, they helped set up Ochil Youths Community Improvement (OYCI) within their school. Today, OYCI has grown into a thriving charity that still works in close partnership with Alva Academy to support young people. 

We took a trip to Clackmannanshire to see this exciting partnership in action, and to hear more about how the school and charity work together on several youth awards programmes.

Elayne Gibson, an OYCI Youth Worker working closely with Alva, told us, ‘Youth voice has been at the heart of our organisation, shaping our provision, with young people making change happen.’ 

Through OYCI at Alva, young people are able to take on leadership roles, build their skills and earn SQA accreditation for their projects through Hi5 Awards, Dynamic Youth Awards, Youth Achievement Awards and more.

A group of young people pass a blow-up globe to each other in a an auditorium.

We spoke with Eleanor, an S6 pupil at Alva Academy, who started her awards journey five years ago.

‘Working with OYCI, I’ve completed my Bronze Youth Achievement Award, my iLead Dynamic Youth Award, Ready for Youth Work DYA and I’m now working toward my Platinum Youth Achievement Award.’ 

Over the years, Eleanor built her skills and began taking on some exciting leadership roles. 

‘During the Covid pandemic, our (OYCI) sessions moved online or outdoors. Initially I wasn’t keen being online, however, I became more confident and I even led baking sessions on Zoom, making up individual bags of ingredients, delivering them to all the participants before the session so we could all make cakes together online…It was a great way to still meet weekly, have fun and try to keep things “normal.”’ 

After tackling Place2Be’s Mental Health Peer Mentor training through OYCI, Eleanor and other peer mentors at Alva helped secure funding to deliver wellbeing initiatives to pupils sitting exams.  

She shared, ‘This training and experience really helped me during my interview in school for Health & Wellbeing Captain in S6.’  

Eleanor is now employed with OYCI as a Sessional Support Worker supporting Youth Theatre and other sessions, and has been accepted to study History & Law at University in September.  

We also spoke with another young leader, S6 pupil Aimee, who shared a similar story about the impact of youth awards. 

After moving to Alva Academy from another school, Aimee was inspired to join OYCI after seeing a presentation from the group’s young people in Assembly Hall.  

‘I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved and make new friends…I went to Drama Club and Fun, Food & Friendship after school clubs, Thursday night youth club, holiday sessions and Play in a Week—where we would write and perform in a play a week. Taking part in these really helped my confidence and helped me to settle into the area, making new friends.’

As Aimee got more involved in the school and community, she quickly took on a role as a young leader through the programme. 

‘I led my first dance session at school during Fun, Food & Friendship. I then began volunteering at Fun, Food & Friendship as a Young Leader, helping to lead lots of different sessions.’  

She has already earned a Ready for Youth Work DYA, Bronze Youth Achievement Award and Level 5 Dance Leaders Award. Like Eleanor, she is also working towards a Platinum Youth Achievement Award and is supporting other young people as a Sessional Support Worker with OYCI.

A blue cardboard display shows a youth action project titled, 'Magic Meals On a Budget.'


Part of the unique magic of the partnership between OYCI and Alva Academy is the leadership pathway it creates from the beginning, offering Hi5 and Dynamic Youth Awards opportunities to even the youngest pupils.  

We spoke with Gillian Freeland, FPT Social Subjects at Alva Academy, about how awards are integrated into their S2 learning. 

‘What we did a year ago is we reviewed our S2 course and, using the experiences and outcomes from Curriculum for Excellence, we created a brand new course called ‘You Decide,’ which is around the principles of youth voice and young people having the opportunity to share what matters to them.’ 

The new course, which takes place over 8 lessons in two weeks, supports S2 pupils to create their own campaign on an issue, earning a Dynamic Youth Award in the process.  

Gillian explained, 

‘We’ve worked closely with OYCI over the last few years and this was an ideal opportunity for us to look at our timeframes, to look at the partnership that we already have and come up with a unit focused around that. And it just so happened that in addition to developing the knowledge and the skills that we would normally, that we were able to give them the opportunity to get accreditation lower down in the school, which isn’t often as easy.’ 


Youth Scotland awards are amazing!

Abigail, S2 pupil at Alva Academy

I would definitely do another Youth Scotland award.

Rowan, S2 pupil at Alva Academy

OYCI and Alva Academy Help Young Leaders Gain Accreditation


Another example of this ‘start early’ mentality is in OYCI’s Hi5 Award programme. Since 2019, OYCI has delivered this programme to support Primary 7s who will attend Alva Academy.

‘We are bringing the Primary 7s in as part of their transition from Primary to Secondary,’ explained Cath Bain, an OYCI Youth Worker involved in the programme. ‘They will spend a day with us in school covering activities relating to transition, looking at the themes of friendship, teamwork and communication.’  

Last year, 156 P7 pupils from 6 primary schools took part in this type of transition day organised by OYCI. It was an exciting moment for all, as P7 pupils were introduced to (and earned their own) Hi5 Awards, and young leaders from Alva had the chance to step in as Learning Assistants, answering questions, supporting with games delivery and in general, introducing the next generation to OYCI and Alva Academy’s legacy of youth leadership.

OYCI and Alva Academy Help Young Leaders Gain Accreditation

OYCI and Alva Academy Help Young Leaders Gain Accreditation

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