Parents/Carers Information

As a parent/carer, you want the best for the young people in your care. Supporting your young person on their journey to college or university can be a minefield as there are several steps and important decisions leading up to the application process. This section of the website answers a range of FAQs about FOCUS West’s role in helping young people make decisions about applying to HNC, HND at college and Degree courses at university, to help them choose a post-school destination that is right for them.

Why does my child qualify for support? FAQs

FOCUS West is funded by the Scottish Government, via the Scottish Funding Council, to work with pupils in secondary schools in the West of Scotland.

The criterion for inclusion in the programme can be found here. A list of schools which we work with can be found here.

Academically, pupils who take part should be capable of attaining 2+ qualifications at SCQF Level 6. This level would give a school leaver the best chance of being accepted onto a Higher National Certificate course at college or in some cases a degree course at university*, however although they may be academically capable, meeting the criteria above may mean they are statistically less likely to achieve their full potential without additional support.

Our aim is to make sure that any barriers young people face in making decisions about their future are offset with information, increased understanding about the opportunities afforded by college and university and increased confidence in applying for an HE course. We want to create an equal opportunity for young people to realise their potential to transition into higher education, no matter what course they would like to do.

You can find out if your home postcode falls under the SIMD1 criteria by using the University of Strathclyde’s postcode checker.

If your young person is interested in subjects studied at Glasgow School of Art, eligibility for inclusion on the FOCUS West programme is different. Please visit the programme websites for up to date information:

FOCUS West Portfolio Development Programme, The Glasgow School of Art,

What type of support does FOCUS West offer?

One of the strengths of FOCUS West is that it consists of programmes run by all 6 Higher Education Institutions in the West of Scotland. You can click here to get information about the different elements of the programme. Please note that not all schools work with every element of the programme. Viewing your school here will give you up to date information.

Year ProgrammeInstitution
S2Changing FOCUS

Mentors will deliver activities in school, designed to make links between school subjects, careers and Higher Education courses.
University of Strathclyde

Pupils will be introduced to life as a university student with a visit to a university campus.
University of Strathclyde
S4FOCUS on 4

Pupils will attend the University of Strathclyde for a day with group activities designed to help improve study techniques and make pupils more aware of how university works.
University of Strathclyde
S4-6Portfolio Development Programme

This programme offers advice/workshops on developing a portfolio for pupils interested in studying Art, Design or Architecture courses.
The Glasgow School of Art
Widening Access to the Creative Industries (WACI)

This programme is for pupils interested in studying in the performing arts. An informative variety of workshops, short courses, individual mentoring, taster days and summer schools are offered.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
S5/6HE Information, Advice & Guidance

Development workers will come out to school and provide tailored, impartial and specific guidance for pupils aiming for university or college at HNC/HND level.
FOCUS West Central Team, based at University of Strathclyde
Routes for All (Glasgow City) &
Routes for All (East and West)

Workshops are delivered in school to explore post-school options at college with an opportunity to visit a college campus.
Glasgow Caledonian University

University of the West of Scotland
Top UP

The Top-Up Programme has been designed to help pupils prepare for HE and to make informed choices about the future. Pupils will participate in university style lectures and assignments.
University of Glasgow

For full details on the support available for each year group please see the Our Programme section.

Where can my young person sign up for support from FOCUS West?

We have a contact teacher in each of our schools who help us identify pupils eligible for FOCUS West support. There is no official sign-up process for those pupils identified, instead teachers directly refer pupils to the different elements of the programme.

If you believe your young person meets the eligibility criteria but is not currently involved with FOCUS West please get in touch and we can direct you to the relevant teacher.

Why should my young person take part in FOCUS West?

Our work is on behalf of all universities and colleges and is therefore not connected to one specific institution or subject discipline. This allows us to be impartial in our attempts to raise awareness/aspiration of higher education and to best prepare young people for successful application to their chosen higher education course.

Pupils that participate in FOCUS West will also benefit from:

  • First-hand experience of the higher education learning environment
  • Specialist knowledge and workshops
  • Personalised help with course choice selection and application support
  • The opportunity to develop transferable skills/gain an additional SCQF qualification
  • Experienced student mentors/role models

Additional Helpful Resources

  • Focus Point – our online resource, with activities, advice and interactive tools related to choosing school subjects, thinking ahead to options after school, and applying to college and university.
  • UCAS – for information on the university application process
  • SAAS – for information on student funding
  • SQA – for information on pupil examinations

[1] *SIMD stands for Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. SIMD is the official tool used to identify deprived areas in Scotland – FOCUS West predominately works with pupils who reside in an SIMD1 Postcode (also referred to as MD20) which refers to the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland.  It is important to understand that it is a relative measure and ‘deprived’ has several meanings in this context. While the term deprived is usually associated with low income, SIMD also looks at a range of different things, like the resources and opportunities available in housing, health, education, employment, and transport.

*Please check the entry criteria for the college or university course your young person wishes to apply for