Personal Development Award

Meet our students currently completing their qualification with us.

As part of our Residency in Leith Academy, we deliver the Personal Development Award: Festival Resident, our bespoke qualification for senior pupils recognised and awarded by the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) and delivered in collaboration with the school. Candidates gain workplace experience with the Festival, building a range of personal, social and vocational skills through project-based learning.

Now in its second year, we have six students taking this award and have added an additional SQA Leadership award, meaning the students will gain the equivalent of two Highers by the end school year. In order to continue to deliver this opportunity during the pandemic, we have adapted the qualification to incorporate social distancing measures and are facilitating work experience online. Like in its first year, the students have had the opportunity to work with and learn from staff at the Festival by connecting with them digitally, as well as working on creative projects to help build and develop a variety of employability skills.


Head shot of student, Abbie Jackson

Abbie Jackson

Introduce yourself!

My name is Abbie Jackson and I am in S5.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some work experience, and it would stand out on my CV.

What are you passionate about?

I would say I’m passionate about different types of music! When I leave school, I plan on either having a full-time job and saving up money to afford a house just outside of Edinburgh or being in college studying some sort of design or a radio course.


Head shot of student, Carly Scott

Carly Scott

Introduce yourself!

My name is Carly Scott and I am in S6.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

It is useful for my future career in music and it is something I am really interested in.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about music and I want to study it at university!


Head shot of student, Cherneil Wilson

Cherneil Wilson

Introduce yourself!

My name is Cherneil Wilson and I am in S5.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

I chose to take this qualification because I can gain experience working in a new environment, as well as getting a higher qualification!

What are you passionate about?

I’m really passionate about helping people and giving advice when I can. My hobbies are fitness, sports and reading. I plan to study to become a surgeon when I’m finished school.


Head shot of student, Daniel Malanskas

Daniel Malanskas

Introduce yourself!

My name is Daniel Malanskas and I am in S5.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

It seemed like a really good opportunity to improve myself and my skills. My teachers also said that it would benefit me!

What are you passionate about?

I am interested in visual art and it’s what I hope to study once I leave Leith Academy.



Head shot of student, Marta Bertin

Marta Bertin

Introduce yourself!

My name is Marta Bertin and I am in S5.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

I chose it because I thought it seemed like a really interesting opportunity, and it actually is!

What are you passionate about?

I really love art. In my spare time, I paint, draw and study the history of art. I also play the flute and I read a lot. I really hope to go to college and study art, once I leave Leith Academy. I don’t know what I want to do as a job when I leave but I hope it will be something connected to the arts!

Marta has now left Leith Academy and moved home to Italy.


Head shot of student, Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Introduce yourself!

My name is Matthew Smith and I am in S6.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

When I saw this opportunity, I thought it would be a fun experience I thought I could bring my artistic skills to, that I would have something to contribute and learn a thing or two from.

What are you passionate about?

I love to draw in my free time and play video games. I am hoping that I can go onto college after high school and be able to get a job on the days I’m free.


A student adding a post-it note to a board named 'Lockdown Life'

Hassan Abdullah

Introduce yourself!

My name is Hassan Abdullah and I am in S5.

Why did you choose to take this qualification with the Festival?

I wanted to try something new and get two highers at the same time!

What are you passionate about?

I like art and I want to study interior design when I leave Leith Academy.


Personal Development Award 2019 – 2020

Our Festival Residents last year were Martha Barr, Shona Baxter and Harmony Gosman who all received their Personal Development Award as part of their exam results in August 2020.

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What was important to me was the fact that I was directly working with the people who help develop and run the Festival each year and I found that to be a very rewarding and valuable experience.

Shona Baxter, Leith Academy alumni


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