SCA Education Coaching Programme 2020-21

SCA Education Coaching Programme 2020-21

19 May 2020

Now more than ever, outreach to local schools and communities is vital to ensure archives are recognised as relevant, accessible and engaging services. Archives with active education and outreach programmes raise their public profiles and make themselves more resilient to budget pressures and downsizing.

Focussed support for your education and outreach work

After a highly successful 2019 programme, the SCA is again offering the opportunity for Scottish archives to receive professional coaching and support from its Education Development Officer, Douglas Roberts.

SCA’s Education Coaching programme offers focussed one-to-one practical support to Scottish archive services for developing and improving their education and outreach work.

Take a look at our case study summaries below to see how others have benefited from the Programme in past years.

Response to COVID-19 restrictions

The current pandemic means radical changes to the way we all work. This process is daunting for many and we are keen to offer practical and relevant support. In response to the pandemic we’re extending our Coaching Programme offer to more Scottish archive services for the 2020-2021 period.

Instead of three days on site, our coaching support will be delivered online and on the phone. If travel and on-site visits become feasible later in the year, we can do that too. Our main contact will be via video calls using Teams, Zoom or Skype, as well as accessing shared online spaces and digital tools. Don’t worry; we can guide you through all of that!

You can apply for assistance to develop any aspect of your education and outreach work, whether you’re starting from scratch or building on an existing programme. See our case studies to learn more about the range of support we offer.

“I would encourage any archive service to apply for the SCA Education Coaching programme because it is so flexible to whatever stage you may be at in your planning and implementation of educational activities. It has definitely given me more knowledge in creating learning activities and given me confidence to start such a project by breaking it down into manageable elements rather than seeing it as an insurmountable task that a lone archivist could not manage.”

When is this available?

The Coaching Programme will be available between June 2020 and March 2021.

How do I apply?

To apply for a place on our Education Coaching Programme please complete this form about your service and what support you’d like from us, we will then contact you with the outcome of your application.

A Word version of the form is also available SCA Education Coaching Application 2020, and should be returned on completion to

How do I qualify to take part?

The programme is open to all archive services in Scotland. We ask that you have a clear idea of how you would use the support we offer, and that you have time available to work with Douglas to develop and deliver your education and outreach work.

You may be looking for ways to adapt your current education and outreach work to an online environment, given the ongoing restrictions on travel, budgets and interaction. You may be wanting to build your confidence and skills in using online and digital tools. You may already have a project in mind or underway where you would like input in a specific area, or you may have a collection you’d like to develop for outreach. Maybe you’re just looking for a way to expand your education and outreach work and are unsure where to start.

Successful applications will be realistic in scale and clearly demonstrate the greatest potential to achieve their outcomes.

You will be asked to commit to producing a short case study describing and evaluating your project or activity.

“We created a number of learning units, such as What are Archives?, and The Value of Archives, as well as units that were specific to this location and our collections, such as tours of the building and explorations of our records about the town’s public baths and the textile industry. I now have more confidence to take all of this information forward and introduce school groups to our archives.”

What if I’m interested but don’t have a specific project in mind?

The changed working environment this year means that we are all adjusting to new ways of running our services. Whether you’re starting from scratch or building on existing work we will help you find where and how to start growing an education and outreach programme that adapts to the emerging ‘new normal’.

“I am a new professional in my first full-time archive job and first experience of managing an archive service. I was looking to start an education programme from scratch. I had no previous experience of introducing children to archives and wanted to gain some practical advice and examples of techniques to use. The most beneficial aspect of the coaching was gaining a greater understanding of how to shape educational activities to fit the Curriculum for Excellence.”

“The coaching programme was an excellent experience and definitely met my expectations. Douglas is very knowledgeable and approachable and offered a great amount of support and expertise.”

“In the space of three days we were able to create a comprehensive education module based around one of our collections, with a structure that can be adapted to other collections as well. Prior to this programme we had no educational offer in place.”

Past participants

In 2019 seven more Scottish archive services benefitted from our Education Coaching Programme, receiving bespoke one-to-one support to develop their education and outreach work.

You can read about their experiences in our summary below. For more details take a look through the series of case studies on our website, and see some of the educational resources they’ve created.


Perth and Kinross Archive had developed a learning module for high school students based on the WW1 letters of John Alex Veitch and wanted to pilot it with a third year class from a local school. Douglas worked with Assistant Archivist Sarah Wilcock to deliver the drama process element of the module in which students took the roles of characters from John Alex’s life, created still images and voiced their thoughts.

John Alex Veitch © reproduced with permission of Perth & Kinross Archive

They went on to develop Sarah’s next project, a secondary schools learning unit about the history of crime and punishment in Scotland, using local archive records as sources.

“The SCA coaching has been invaluable to my professional development by further developing my decision making and problem-solving skills and increasing my confidence in the delivery of our education programme and the rest of the archive outreach programme as well.”

Sarah Wilcock, Assistant Archivist

Read Perth & Kinross Archive’s full case study here.


Fife Archives asked SCA for support in developing a new schools programme, starting with devising an entertaining tour of the archive store and search room.

Douglas worked with Archivist Andrew Dowsey and Collections Assistant Susan Goodfellow. Together they scripted a tour talk, mapped the route and identified stopping points in the store to demonstrate interesting elements for young students, including a taxidermy fox!

Andrew Dowsey, Douglas Roberts, and a fox

North Lanarkshire Archivist Wiebke McGee was interested in developing artistic workshops using digitised images from the archive. She and Douglas worked together to identify interesting sources, and to rewrite an existing workshop plan to make it more appealing to local community groups. They discussed how to find and approach groups with an interest in specific types of records or activities.


Abertay University Archives is running a major HLF-funded outreach project titled Abertay 25. University Archivist Ruaraidh Wishart sought SCA support in developing the volunteer-led project with three local secondary schools, including devising the training format for the community volunteers and designing a memory exchange project.

Abertay 25 project with local High School students © reproduced with permission of Abertay University Archives

“Douglas’s support for Abertay 25 went beyond his input to the volunteer training. He has been a valuable source of support throughout a project that has been a steep learning curve for us as well as the volunteers, providing guidance and confidence for us where we were a bit unsure about elements of it.” – Ruaraidh Wishart, University Archivist

Read Abertay University Archives’ full case study here.


Argyll Estates Archivist Alison Diamond applied for SCA assistance in researching and developing a major funding bid for a records-based multi-arts project on the Island of Tiree titled Tìr Ìseal nan Òrain.

Members of the Tiree community pore over the Turnbull Map (ref AP R038) during the Archives Roadshow in May 2019

Alison had previously collaborated in a highly successful Archives Roadshow on Tiree in May 2019, as part of the Written In The Landscape project, including exhibitions, talks and workshops, and a dramatic performance by local school children. Of particular interest was the Turnbull Map of Tiree, a lavishly illustrated hand-drawn 18th century map of the island by James Turnbull. Enthusiastic community feedback asked for more.

Douglas and Alison liaised with community groups, artists, An Iodhlann heritage centre and the local school to build a project plan and funding bid using the Turnbull Map as a starting point, and to identify archive records that told stories of the island’s history, geography and mythology.

Survey plans by George Langlands for the division of crofts (ref AP PV 19) on display at An Iodhlann, the local community heritage centre on Tiree

“To date, users of my archive service have been mostly academic researchers and genealogists. Through the Coaching Programme I have developed a level of confidence with which I feel I can approach artists and creative practitioners and from which may develop work with new audiences, particularly schools and communities.

The development of the project plan and budget which has been so successful with funders has boosted my confidence in applying for funding. This has massive implications for a small archive service where anything other than day-to-day management requires external financial support.”Alison Diamond, Argyll Estates Archivist

Read Argyll Estates’ full case study here.


East Dunbartonshire Archives (EDLC Trust) sought SCA support in creating a community exhibition project, Campsie Collections, at the Lennoxtown Community Hub aimed at reaching new audiences in the local area.

Invitation to concert for Belgian Refugees © Reproduced with permission of East Dunbartonshire Archives (EDLC Trust)

SCA Education Development Officer Douglas Roberts worked with East Dunbartonshire Archivist Janice Miller to identify appropriate records, devise a theme and activities to attract and engage meaningfully with people who might not ordinarily visit an archive or use archive records.

“The Education Officer helped me understand that people need an emotional connection to remember and engage with the material. You can’t just display items and expect people to be interested.  The challenge is to guide them to this emotional connection and make it meaningful for them.  I see now how important it is to signpost and guide people through interpreting archive material. Up to now I’ve often been too literal in my exhibitions and captions, and focussed on maintaining an objective use of language as I was trained to when cataloguing.”Janice Miller, East Dunbartonshire Archivist

Read East Dunbartonshire Archives’ full case study here.


The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre in Glasgow has been developing tours and study sessions for school groups for a number of years, based on the Centre’s records of children who escaped Nazi-occupied Europe on Kindertransports and came to Scotland. Children were often unaccompanied, their parents having failed to get permission for themselves. A number who came to Glasgow were housed and cared for at the Hill Street Boys’ Hostel adjacent to Garnethill Synagogue, and many remained after the war and made their home in Scotland. SJAC holds the documented stories of these refugees, along with artefacts and images from their lives.

Hill Street Boys’ Hostel, 1939 © Reproduced with permission of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre

SJAC Hon. Curator Deborah Haase wanted to review and improve these study sessions in line with the Scottish curriculum and using more active learning techniques. She and SCA Education Development Officer Douglas Roberts worked through the unit notes and explored new activities, timings and questioning techniques to get the most from the stories.

“The joy of your input is your total understanding of archives coupled with professional educational knowledge and skills. This has been truly invaluable to me and so to the project, helping to develop the drafts into effective timed participation kits.” Deborah Haase, SJAC Hon. curator 

Read SJAC’s full case study here.