Education Finalists 2018

Scottish School of Forestry

Balloch, Inverness, Highlands

The Scottish School of Forestry at Balloch mainly delivers of forestry and arboriculture training and education, from complete beginner up to PhD. The principal institution for forestry training and education in Scotland, the SSF has an excellent reputation for providing successful forest workers and managers for both the public and private sectors of the forest industry. The institution has been delivering higher education since 1980 and degrees since 1996.


Scottish Crofting Federation

Kyle of Lochalsh, Highlands

The Scottish Crofting Federation started in 1985 as the Scottish Crofter’s Union and became a Federation in 2003 with charitable status. It is the only organisation solely dedicated to campaigning for crofters and fighting for the future of crofting. It is the largest association of small scale food producers in the UK. Their mission is to safeguard and promote the rights, livelihoods and culture of crofters and their communities. The Federation has 2000 crofting members based in the Highlands and Islands and has a wider education remit within its charitable objectives to educate the wider public on crofting matters.


Royal Northern Countryside Initiative


2017 marks the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative 20th anniversary of providing free bespoke education to children throughout Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. Their mission statement is; ‘Increasing countryside awareness through education…’ – the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative (RNCI) believe that all children should learn about the land based sector by experiencing the rural environment. The RNCI achieves this by working alongside volunteers to provide free farm visits, classroom talks and demonstrations in their one of a kind countryside classroom on wheels.


Ringlink Scotland Ltd.

Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire

Ringlink Scotland is the UK’s largest business ring with a membership in excess of 2700. Founded in 1988, the business has seen significant growth, progressing from a company focusing entirely on agriculture into a diverse business which now includes haulage, construction, and forestry together with a variety of other business activities. Ringlink Scotland Ltd is a Registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act with a non-executive board of directors elected from its membership and is non-profit making.


Morrison’s Academy

Crieff, Perthshire

Founded in 1860, Morrison’s Academy is an independent day school in the heart of rural Perthshire. Generations of Morrisonians have benefited from the school’s rich choice of academic, artistic and sporting experiences, going on to make their mark on the world as Olympic athletes, ground-breaking scientists, award-winning actors, adventurers, politicians and professionals. Their long tradition of academic success in boys and girls from three to 18 continues today with a contemporary Scottish curriculum and a programme of independent, child-centred learning that builds emotional intelligence, creativity and life skills, and encourages every one of the 440 pupils to strive for their highest.


Fenton Barns Nursery

Fenton Barns North Berwick, East Lothian

In 2010, two young mothers, Caroline Freeman and Nicola Simpson, identified the need for high quality childcare in a rural setting in East Lothian. Working with the landowners at Fenton Barns, they built a bespoke building from Latvian timber, developed an amazing garden and opened in August 2012. Five years on they employ over 25 staff, and have places for 40 children for 11 hours per day, catering for local families who want high quality childcare in an outdoor environment for their children aged three months to five years. Their ethos has always been about healthy living (providing home cooked food and outdoor learning and play), supporting their excellent staff and working with local families to provide the highest quality service.


Crofting & Local Food Production Courses

North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) adopted the Vocational Education Strategy in 2008. This meant all young people in the Western Isles  would have the offer of a vocational course, accredited on a par with other ‘mainstream’ qualifications. The strategy was and is informed by Local Labour Market Intelligence, so courses should link not only to the national economy but the local economy. Theona Morrison, CnES Skills and Enterprise Adviser chaired the writing of the Local Food Production course. The rural economy is the backdrop to island life. Crofting and Food Production is worth millions of pounds to the local economy, often runs in parallel to other sources of income and contributes to sustainability in terms of stemming population decline by passing skills on to the next generation.



Haddington, East Lothian

Most simply, Colstoun is a rural events business located in the oldest house in Scotland to have always been inhabited by the same family, but in reality they are much more complicated than that – they are a multifaceted business with 900 years of Broun history, living and working on a 2000 acre estate 30 minutes east of Edinburgh. At its heart, Colstoun is a family business managed by five family members, all sharing the administrative, operational, marketing, maintenance and grounds work of the business.


Breadalbane Academy

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Breadalbane Academy is a whole through school (ages two -18) situated in a very large rural catchment area in Highland Perthshire, stretching from Kinloch Rannoch to Dunkeld. The school offers a number of flexible programmes and opportunities for  young people centered around working in a rural environment, ranging from adventure sports to farm and estate visits. The school’s dedicated rural skills course has been run successfully for many years with the support of local farmer, Sandy Thompson. Breadalbane Academy works in partnership with Mr Thompson and several other local businesses to develop and reference the skills pupils will require when seeking employment in rural industries.


Adventure Centre for Education

Girvan, South Ayrshire

ACE specialises in harnessing the power and energy of adventure sports to broaden the visions and aspirations of the people they work with. ACE offer a range of land and water based activities including coasteering, gorge walking, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, biking, bushcraft, climbing and abseiling and much more! The Adventure Centre for Education initially started as a small project in 2005 as part of a youth initiative. They began because of a community visioning exercise in 2002 that highlighted that young people wanted to engage more in the outdoors.