A GREENWOOD Academy project which is supporting pupils to learn outside the classroom has been hailed a major success.

Pupils at the Dreghorn school have been given the opportunity to learn some barista coffee-making skills while also getting additional one-to-one study support through The Mount initiative.

The programme, which takes its name from the school’s address on Corsehill Mount Road, was created in a bid to support disengaged secondary school pupils and bring them back to education.

The project is held in Townend Youth and Community Centre rather than the school, meaning young people living with a range of challenges including anxiety and a lack of confidence feel more relaxed and open to learning.

Irvine Times: The Mount project has helped pupils at Greenwood Academy learn in a new environment away from the

One pupil who gets regular extra support in maths and English with a teacher at the community centre said: “I have found it really helpful because I suffer from bad anxiety and panic attacks.

“I am learning in a safe and comforting environment rather than one that – to me – is scary and overwhelming.

"I have been coming to The Mount for a few weeks and it helps me a lot. I get peace and quiet, and I don’t get panic attacks.

“I want to work with animals and would like to open an animal sanctuary, and I need Higher maths and English to be able to do this.

"My maths and English are coming on great, and I am also going out more outside of school than I was before."

Irvine Times: The Mount project has helped pupils at Greenwood Academy learn in a new environment away from the

The Mount is also used by the Academy’s GEM (Greenwood Events Management) students - a group of senior pupils who are learning coffee-making as a subject as they work towards a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in barista skills.

Though The Mount is supporting more than pupils learning valuable coffee making skills, and also offers a focus for pupils on part-time timetables who would benefit from community-based support.

It also offers a perfect opportunity for young people looking for volunteering opportunities, parents looking for support with literacy and numeracy qualifications and parents looking for support from community services.

The spark for the project came from community learning and development worker Craig McLellan and Carrie Boax, who is the school’s principal of guidance.

Craig said they'd realised that the centre was quiet during the day, and that there was a need for a community cafe in the village.

A six-week summer pilot project was set up with the GEM pupils, which attracted parents and carers into Townend for a coffee and also inspired other ideas for development, including the possibility of introducing English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) sessions.

Provost Anthea Dickson visited the project recently, and said: “This initiative is very impressive.

Irvine Times: The Mount project has helped pupils at Greenwood Academy learn in a new environment away from the

"We need to offer young people the chance to learn a range of practical skills – not just academic subjects - that give them a sense of worth and enjoyment.

“The IT room, coffee shop and additional learning will help our young people to thrive, whatever their ambitions are, and will lift their self-esteem.”

The initiative was launched recently during national youth work week, shining a light on its core principles of community development and youth work.

Greenwood head teacher Katy Hegarty added: “We are very proud of this project, which has many benefits for our pupils and also helps us to engage with parents, carers and the wider community.

“It is all about engaging with young people outside of the school environment and helping them to thrive.”

Irvine Times: The Mount project has helped pupils at Greenwood Academy learn in a new environment away from the

Partner organisations involved in The Mount thus far include Dreghorn Community Association, which runs Townend; benefits, housing and debt charity CHAP, which is offering workshops to non-attenders; the North Ayrshire Multiply team, which helps adults improve their numeracy skills; and Dreghorn Community Fire Station.

Councillor Shaun Macaulay, NAC's cabinet member for education, added: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this programme, which offers our young people a chance to learn outside of the classroom.

“They are learning about employability, community and teamwork – which will all stand them in good stead.”

The café is not open to the public yet - though this possibility may not be too far off.

Updates can be found via the social media pages for both North Ayrshire Council and Greenwood Academy.