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Fife schoolboy Joe Pirrie was ready to give up on the classroom but is now Head Boy and has secured a job offer in his dream career thanks to a Foundation Apprenticeship.

Having to manage Dyslexia and Dyspraxia meant the 16-year-old Glenrothes High School pupil struggled with some aspects of school and was considering leaving.

When he heard about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Children and Young People through Fife Council as a subject choice in fifth year he jumped at the chance to try his chosen career.

Foundation Apprenticeships give senior phase school pupils the opportunity to get out of the classroom and get work-based learning, to gain an industry-led qualification at the same level as a Higher.

Joe explained: “I have always wanted to work with children and was planning to leave school after fourth year and study early learning and childcare at college.

“One of the head teachers spoke to my mum about Foundation Apprenticeships.

“When my mum told me about Foundation Apprenticeships I was really keen because I would get the chance to try the job in a real working environment and get a qualification before leaving school.”

Staying on at school has paid dividends for Joe, who believes the Foundation Apprenticeship has made a difference to him in lots of ways.

Teachers and pupils at his school have also admired his success and positive attitude, which has earned him the role of Head Boy.

Joe says: “Before I started taking the Foundation Apprenticeship I was more reserved and I watched, rather than participated. Now my confidence has improved and I get more involved in class.

“The Foundation Apprenticeship has made me think differently about school. I look forward to going and it’s helped me with my other subjects. It’s also made me see that you don’t have to go to university to be successful.”

The Foundation Apprenticeship has made me think differently about school. I look forward to going and it’s helped me with my other subjects. It’s also made me see that you don’t have to go to university to be successful.

Joe Pirrie, Foundation Apprentice

In fifth year Joe took Nationals in Maths and English at school and went to college two afternoons a week as part of his Foundation Apprenticeship.

Now in the second year of his apprenticeship, Joe is gaining work experience at Little Einsteins Nursery whilst taking Nationals in Media Studies and Modern Studies.

Joe’s enthusiasm and love for his work experience at Little Einsteins is already making a difference to the business, with the nursery looking to implement his idea to make mealtimes better for the children.

Joe explained: “When the children were asked what they wanted to eat for lunch, I noticed they would choose the food that sounded appealing, but many would prefer the other option when they saw it. So, I suggested creating a picture menu of the meals, to help them decide.”

The team at Little Einsteins have been impressed with Joe and manager Emma Bell has already provisionally offered him a job at the nursery when he leaves school.

Emma said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are fantastic because they give us the chance to see what a young person would be like in the job and lets us spot talent early.

“Foundation Apprenticeships give young people the chance to try the career before they commit to it and we can see their potential.

“We jumped at the chance to take on Joe, as we want to encourage more men into the industry.

“Male members of staff are good role models for the boys at the nursery as well as creating a better balance in the team. Foundation Apprenticeships are a real chance to attract more young men into childcare jobs.

“Joe has been a great asset to the nursery since he started on his work placement through his Foundation Apprenticeship.

“The children adore him and look forward to seeing him. We’ve seen him develop in confidence and he has already become part of the team and making a good contribution.”

Having tried out a career in Early Learning and Childcare, Joe is now certain it’s the career for him.

He said: “Now that I’ve had a chance to try it through a Foundation Apprenticeship, I’m sure that I want to pursue a career in early learning and would love to go on to take a Modern Apprenticeship.”

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