Front Lounge

Clothes-Making Qualification Creates New Patterns of Learning

Six young people from Dundee are stitching their way to a brighter future after quite literally creating new patterns of learning!

As part of the first full pilot in a Scottish school, six pupils from Baldragon Academy in Dundee have become the first pupils in the country to complete the full SQA Kindred Clothing Award (Garment Production) qualification, completed as part of their school day. Two of the pupils who completed the course are now on placements with Dundee-based businesses.

As a result of its success, the course is to be offered as part of the school’s curriculum, offering young people vocational and skills-based learning opportunities.  This sits alongside new initiatives, including The Baldragon Bee Academy, The Baldragon Barista Academy, The Baldragon Bike Academy, and learning horticultural and rural skills within the community garden.

Baldragon

Chloe Morrison with Holly Stansfield of Dundee-based Betty and Moira.

Kindred Clothing, run by Dundee charity Front Lounge, is delivered by a range of businesses within its Clothes Making Learning Partnership (CMLP). Kindred Clothing takes learners through the key stages of the garment production process, from setting up and using a sewing machine to mood boards, pattern making and construction.  Learners also gain practical fashion photography skills and techniques to present themselves, their stories and their clothes.

Showing off their creations today were Charlie Henderson, Paige Fyffe, Samantha Haxton and Chloe Morrison, alongside Alana Brown and Kai Edwards who are currently enjoying placements with Front Lounge, Isolated Heroes and Jo-AMI.

With a graduation planned for August 2022, the charity is now recruiting learners for the next block, including learners from other local schools.

Mr Hugh McAninch, Head Teacher of Baldragon Academy said, “Kindred Clothing has made a fantastic and important contribution to our pupils and the school. Seeing young people develop skills for life, learning and work through an opportunity like this is amazing.”

“Kindred Clothing has given these young people a focus and the chance to work towards a credible and valuable qualification in a different way than they might have realised was possible.

“Pupils have developed their skills and confidence and aspire to utilise these new learning experiences to peruse opportunities for their futures. Those who took part have created new friendships and have improved their confidence. More than anything, it’s provided focus, a project to get up for, arrive on time, and get stuck into.  Many of them have been genuinely surprised at what they could do and are opening their eyes to new possibilities down the line.”

As well as the effect on their school life, the course has made a huge difference at home. Kai’s mum Michelle McGuigan said, “I am a mum of four children with varying challenges. Kai has been struggling to attend school for around two years and things have been difficult, with Kai’s confidence being extremely low.

“So, when introduced to Kindred Clothing, I instantly knew this would be a positive thing for Kai as they would be in a smaller class with less people, making the social side a little easier to cope with.

Baldragon Kai

Kai Edwards.

“We didn’t expect huge changes to Kai’s attendance at school but it has improved. They engaged much better with this than school as it’s a completely different learning environment, and Kai found it much easier to learn. I couldn’t believe the change in Kai soon after starting the course – their confidence began to grow and it’s amazing seeing Kai able to travel on the bus alone, talk to new people and make new friends outwith the school environment. Since starting the internship, Kai has become even more engaged, it’s mind-blowing. We can now talk about future options, like college, and Kai can see a future.”

The Baldragon course was delivered by a range of local businesses, Dots n Stripes, Andie, Betty & Moira, Kathryn Rattray Photographer; Isolated Heroes (led by two former Kindred Clothing graduates Cerrys Duke and Hannah Watson) and Grainger Public Relations.

Chika Inatimi, Project Leader, Front Lounge added, “The Baldragon Academy project is evidence of what we can achieve if we work in partnership with schools.  Kindred Clothing was always about more than sewing skills.  We’re giving learners direct access to a range of local businesses who can share their experiences, tips and motivation with the young people and develop something aspirational. All of our learners have gone on to secure internships and jobs with local businesses, which is a staggering achievement and something all learners can aspire to.

“Kindred Clothing exists to raise aspirations, provide a focus and show learners that they can achieve, regardless of the barriers they face in their young lives. We’re delighted to have achieved this goal with Baldragon Academy.  We can’t wait to see the next stage of their journey.”

The Baldragon Academy success follows a taster session which ran at Grove Academy in Dundee, aimed at boosting engagement and aspiration amongst pupils. Nine pupils completed the 10-week session, with further taster workshops for S2 and S3 to follow in August 2022.

Kindred Clothing is open to anyone under the age of 25 who is not employed or in any form of education. For more information, email hello@frontlounge.org, call/leave a message on (01382) 220330 or visit www.frontlounge.org

ENDS