National Progression Award in Harris Tweed

The first national qualification in Harris Tweed will be officially launched in Harris this week.

The course is approved and certificated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. The four unit National Progression Award was produced in the Western Isles by a partnership between CNES Education and Children’s Services Department and the Harris Tweed industry, and was led by Sir E Scott School. The award is at Level 5 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, equivalent to Intermediate 2 or Credit level at Standard Grade.

The award has been available through schools and colleges from August 2010. This session five pupils in Sir E Scott school will receive accreditation in the course. They are the first school pupils to complete the course, and last week Prince Charles presented them with certificates acknowledging this. At present, there is an uptake of six pupils for the course in Sir E Scott school for next session and it is planned that the course will be available to pupils in the Nicolson Institute and students in other schools and colleges in 2012.

The course provides a comprehensive introduction to aspects of the Harris Tweed industry from social context, manufacture, weaving, design and promotion. It is delivered jointly by teachers of Gaelic, Art & Design, Home Economics and Business Studies with inserts from Harris tweed businesses.

Unit 1 is titled An Introduction to the Harris Tweed Industry, and gives students information about the origins of the industry and about how Harris Tweed is produced and used.

Unit 2 is titled An Introduction to Weaving and Production Techniques. It explains the manufacturing process, enables students to design a Harris Tweed pattern and required students to produce a piece of woven Harris Tweed material.

Unit 3 is titled An Introduction to Product Design and Make. It required students to make a product using Harris Tweed to a given specification and to design another product which could be marketed.

Unit 4 is titled An Introduction to Marketing and Promotional Methods. It requires students to investigate the promotion and sale of Harris Tweed and Harris Tweed products, and to produce promotional material.

Students may study the entire course or they can select individual units within the award. Units 1 and 4 each contain approximately 20 hours of learning and teaching; units 2 and 3 each contain approximately 40 hours of learning an teaching. So, the entire award requires the same length of time for its delivery as an Intermediate 2 or Higher course.

The main objective in developing this course was to enable students in schools and colleges to have access to more vocationally relevant courses. This particular course will complement the training of weavers which is currently ongoing and will give students an appreciation of the various opportunities which are currently available through the Harris Tweed industry. It is particularly important that young people should be encouraged to enter the Harris Tweed industry.

The Harris Tweed qualification is the latest in a series of Skills for Work courses introduced under a CnES strategy to meet the needs of pupils and the local economy. Previous qualifications include Crofting, Traditional Boatbuilding, Energy (including renewables), Maritime Skills, Hospitality, Construction, Hospitality and Tourism.

The formal launch of the award takes place in the Harris Hotel, Tarbert, at 2.00 p.m. on Friday 17 June 2011.