Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) have worked closely with Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) staff and students, offering pupils from local schools the chance to experience what it’s like studying creative degrees at university.

Final year Graphic Design students ran interactive workshops; second and third-year Fashion students were shadowed by interested pupils.

ACES work across Scotland’s four major art schools, aiming to increase access to creative Higher Education programmes. Offering advice and encouragement for talented young people from under-represented background. 

Through activities and workshops, school pupils can find out more about creative pathways, meet and learn from industry professionals and collaborate with staff and students.

Graphic Design
Fourth year Graphic Design students pitched their ideas to run a subject insight workshop, ‘Explore Graphic Design!’ to the ACES team. The winning two design agencies, Unkn and Green Tape, delivered their workshops to pupils over two sessions. The first, to S5 – 6 pupils in November 2019, and the second, to S4 – 5 pupils in March 2020.

Pupils travelled from across the south-east of Scotland to attend these workshops. The variety of interactive activities gave them a chance to see what Graphic Design is really like- trying it out for themselves.

A photography of the graphic design workshop. Pupils are gathered in a circle around a table in a design studio.
Image: ACES Edinburgh
Pupils had the opportunity to work on collaborative projects during Graphic Design workshops

"The first time pupils attend an ACES workshop is often the first time they set foot in a university building. Having chance to not only meet but work alongside ECA students, allows pupils to immerse themselves in the studio environment and see whether this is something that they might enjoy!"

ACES Edinburgh Widening Participation Officer Jess Hume

One pupil said: ‘it’s not just about sitting on computers and designing, it's more about creativity and making people view the world from a different perspective’. Another pupil said: ‘the tasks were very hands-on. There wasn't too much listening to talking, it was listening while doing which I liked.’

School pupils with an interest in studying Fashion were invited to a two-day programme of studio-based activities, mini-tutorials and talks in the Fashion department at ECA in March 2020.

Each pupil was paired up with a second or third year Fashion student, their ‘design manager’. Pupils had chance to look through their design managers’ sketchbooks and work, and speak to them about their experience on the course. They were able to support their design manager with their creative tasks, experiencing their design process first-hand.

Alongside their work in the studios, pupils took part in a short technical masterclass and heard from Programme Director of Fashion, Mal Burkinshaw about the course in more detail.

Photograph of student chatting with school pupil
Image: Edinburgh College of Art
Students chatted with pupils in studios
Photograph of school pupil working in fashion studio
Image: Edinburgh College of Art
Pupils were able to experience working in the studio environment

One pupil said: ‘working with the students felt like we were actually part of the course - like we were really helping them. I liked seeing all the machines and getting a chance to use the equipment too’.

Another pupil adds: ‘my design manager was so lovely and welcoming; her desk mates all gave really useful advice on the course and what to expect.’

ACES have taken their activities online for the next 10 weeks. Jess adds: ‘#CollaborACES is a new, online creative programme, launched on Monday 20th April and running until the end of June. It’s a collaboration between ACES Edinburgh and ACES Tayside, offering weekly creative challenges, life drawing, artist research and more, to create an online community of creative support for our pupils in these challenging times.

Pupils registered on ACES can access all of our resources via Teams, and we are sharing content on our Instagram pages too, so that everyone who wants to can get involved!’

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