Deputy First Minister John Swinney visited Bo’ness Academy last week to help launch Aspire, a new digital platform for school-aged children.
Developed by Children’s University Scotland, Aspire enables pupils and their families to search for learning opportunities taking place outside school lesson time.
Aspire grants virtual credit coins in exchange for participation in educational activities such as library visits and sports clubs.
Children rate and review their activities and build a personal skills profile that grows as they collect credit coins.
From literacy and numeracy to critical thinking and teamwork, Aspire users can develop a better understanding of the skills that are valuable for life, learning and work.
Children’s University Scotland, a national charity, works in partnership with schools, colleges, universities and activity providers to facilitate access to out-of-school learning that raises aspirations, boosts achievement and helps young people to fulfil their potential.
The launch of Aspire coincides with a broader effort to recognise the importance of wider learning in closing the ‘attainment gap’, defined as the gap in school attainment between children from the least and most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland.
Mr Swinney, the cabinet secretary for education and skills, said: “Efforts to support children to take part in learning outside of school hours is a crucial part of boosting attainment and tackling disadvantage.
“Scottish Government values the work of Children’s University Scotland and recognises the vital role the charity plays in working with schools and other partners to help children develop their talents and interests.
“It was inspiring to meet pupils at Bo’ness Academy and to learn more about how the Aspire platform is supporting children’s participation in learning beyond the classroom.”
Academy head teacher Steve Dougan, said: “Bo’ness Academy is very excited to be working with Children’s University Scotland to support our S1 young people in developing their confidence and increasing their skills required to support them as lifelong learners.
“The programme encourages families to work together by participating in and attending a vast range of out-of-school activities such as museum visits.
“Aspire allows us to monitor and track the involvement of our young people and target support, where required, to those who need it most.”
Neil Mathers, chief executive of Children’s University Scotland, said: “Experiences outside school play a critical role in children’s development.
“Sadly, many children face financial or other barriers that prevent them engaging in more structured learning outside school.
“Aspire is fun and rewarding for children and helps them to feel more positive about their learning, wherever it takes place.
“As well as building essential life skills, learning is about the joy of discovery, solving problems and being creative.”