Falkirk Foundation offers a model for others to follow - Richard Leonard

The best thing about being a Member of the Scottish Parliament is when I get to meet some of the extraordinary people doing great work in our communities, often innovating, always making a difference to people’s lives.
Richard Leonard is a Labour MSP for Central ScotlandRichard Leonard is a Labour MSP for Central Scotland
Richard Leonard is a Labour MSP for Central Scotland

One such group is the people who run the Falkirk Foundation, who work with 1,400 young people each week. I first met them last summer at Bo’ness United’s historic Newtown Park, where they were supporting young people who had been struggling after the pandemic to rebuild their self-confidence and were not in work or college.

On their graduation day they had become bright, confident women and men with a purpose, a feeling of self-worth and a future to look forward to.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So in the run-up to the Scottish Cup semi final, I was delighted to go to Falkirk stadium last week to meet another group of young people who were being coached and educated in the setting of the football club.

​Falkirk fans in full voice at Hampden Park last Saturday. The team just fell short on the day but the club still has the play-offs to look forward to​Falkirk fans in full voice at Hampden Park last Saturday. The team just fell short on the day but the club still has the play-offs to look forward to
​Falkirk fans in full voice at Hampden Park last Saturday. The team just fell short on the day but the club still has the play-offs to look forward to

They are enrolled as students at Forth Valley College. We know how important it is for students to complete their courses, but the figures are heading in the wrong direction. The most recent data published by Audit Scotland show that the withdrawal rate for full time further education students is now almost 28 per cent – more than one in four young people did not complete their course in 2020/21. This was an increase of almost seven percentage points.

Out of 21 students who enrolled on this particular course, the only one who was missing that day was at work. Compared to students who learn exclusively in a college campus setting, the attendance rate is extremely high. While we celebrate Falkirk’s fantastic cup run to reach the semi final – and wish them well in the play-offs – let us also celebrate the work of the Falkirk Foundation.

Its innovative approach to learning is exemplary and a model for others to follow. Rigid classroom learning is not for everyone. We have to find new ways of educating our young people and equipping them with the skills they need to reach their full potential.