2023 Awards Winner’s Spotlight: Best Practice Knowledge Sharing


Transport Scotland

This award was sponsored by:



Launched in 2015, Academy9 is an exciting educational initiative from Transport Scotland, linked initially to the A9 dualling programme. This was created in collaboration with consultancies (Atkins, WSP, Fairhurst, CH2M and Jacobs), education consultant The Knowledge Exchange Partnership, schools along the A9 corridor and industry professionals working on the programme (engineers, ecologist, geologist, archaeologist etc.) The education team and technical professionals are all integral to this programme, working with young people from nursery to university, as well as providing teacher CLPL (Career Long Professional Learning) and an SQA qualification.

Recognising the power of partnerships between industry and education, Academy9 is building a legacy of STEM-related skills and achievement through a series of progressive STEM activities and experiences, providing future generations with the opportunity to learn both hard and soft skills and consider STEM-related careers.

Headline statistics show over 7000 pupil interactions, over 665 STEM professional hours, and 740 education practitioners hours, over 220 events.

Academy9 seeks to not only engage with young people in schools along the A9 dualling corridor, but also with their parents, relatives, carers, other community members and nationally across Scotland. Impact is greatly enhanced through valued partnerships such as, Highland’s & Islands and Perth and Kinross Councils, networks like the RAiSE (Raising Aspirations in STEM Education) and DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) and STEM Learning UK.

The Academy9 programme is designed to create knowledge exchange between education and industry and to provide pupils with a robust understanding of sustainability. The programme brings together expertise and input from various sustainability experts in different professions and sectors, using core lessons and activities to create a knowledge sharing space and improve environmental literacy. These are organised to include elements of each of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as the Sustainable Solutions Road Design Challenge. This interface between classroom and active learning encourages innovation and deep understanding within young people, as well as displaying the real-world processes and decisions necessary within the sustainability sector. This educational opportunity allows pupils to take part in important conversations around future policy and use their experience to promote and extend best practice across all areas of their personal lives and spread this out to the wider community.

Through outreach efforts, the programme has been invaluable in providing an insight into the world of environmental management and STEM opportunities. Combining the educational curriculum with career events and long-term mentorship opportunities with environmental professionals and stakeholders, such as engineers, ecologists, and geologists, also raises awareness of potential jobs and provides career advice on routes into roles and job applications. Events create enthusiasm in young people for green jobs and play a critical role in inspiring future environmental specialists to prevent skills gaps and create the diverse, net-zero aligned workforce aimed for in the Learning for Sustainability Vision 2030+ and 2023 National Improvement Framework.

With knowledge exchange between education and industry at the heart of its ethos, Academy9 aims to promote the educational opportunities of young people within a wide range of STEM industries, as well as providing chances for graduates working in STEM to undertake CPD through experience as STEM Ambassadors.

  • At ‘Roadshow’ events, during which young people get the opportunity to ‘become’ ecologists, geologists and engineers, they learn more about what these roles entail and are able to consider whether a career in one of these industries might be of interest to them.
  • As part of an ‘Apprenticeship Academy’, S2 and S3 pupils learn from professionals about their careers, including challenges they may have faced, their interests at school, as well as their own career pathways.
  • ‘Career Mentoring Programme’ matches pupils with a person working in an area of STEM that interests them. Pupils then have a number of sessions to help them explore potential career options, what a day in the life of the mentor is like, pathways to potential careers and CV or personal statement writing.

Further to this, Academy9 is committed to ensuring teachers are supplied with the tools required to deliver a high quality sustainability lessons and STEM education. Training has been provided for Scotland wide Primary Science Development Officers (those who support teachers in providing a STEM curriculum in schools).

We will be posting further information on each of the 2023 Awards Winners over on our blog.