The General Teaching Council for Scotland

As and bees for Scottish students

A new National Progression Award from the SQA creates a buzz

Bees at Kelso High SchoolRay Baxter was teaching Biology at Kelso High School, when a beekeeping course sparked his interest. He would speak about bees in his lessons and always found his pupils engaged in the conversation. It didn’t take long before a beekeeping club was started at the school. This grew from six students, with an apiary built and a beekeeping class becoming an option for S2 pupils.

“When I heard that the SQA was developing an official qualification, I knew that I wanted to get involved,” explained Ray.
Last year, pupils at Kelso High School became the first in Scotland to be awarded with the new National Progression Award (NPA) Beekeeping SCQF level 5 qualification.

“This is a real interdisciplinary course,” said Ray. “Not only are there links to Biology, there are also opportunities to bring in other subjects such as Business Management – looking at the production and sale of honey – as well as Geography in looking at habitat and how bees impact the environment.”

A hive of activity

Bee shed at Oban High SchoolMany schools now have bees on their curriculum. Annan Academy has also been approved to teach this new qualification. Like Kelso High School, the school has been running a bee club. At Oban High School, the beekeeping club enlisted the help of the Design and Technology pupils, who designed and built a bee shed. The club has also been learning how to create colonies from two queen cells.

Trinity High School in Rutherglen has been looking beyond the hive. As well as identifying healthy and unhealthy brood patterns, learners maintain the school garden and learn how honeybees pollinate crops.

A support network has been set up, with more than 20 teachers from across Scotland meeting at the inaugural Scottish Schools Beekeeping Day.

“It was really wonderful to get so many teachers involved, offering the course and thinking outside of the box when it comes to teaching. We meet up a couple of times a year to discuss the course and its moderation,” said Ray.

The National Progression Award Beekeeping SCQF level 5 is one of the newest NPAs run by the SQA. These courses assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, linked to National Occupational Standards.


Learning Outside the Classroom is a free ebook on EBSCO that can help incorporate outdoor learning into daily teaching activities. Login to MyPL and select the research tab to access it.