Edinburgh Local

Educated Pass

The University is successfully raising educational aspiration though the power of sport, especially football.

Pupils taking part in the Educated Pass project
Pupils taking part in the Educated Pass project

The University has pioneered the Educated Pass project which helps teenage boys think about how the school curriculum is relevant to them, and how pursuing their studies could help them achieve a career in football.

The project works in partnership with the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA), Edinburgh College and West Lothian College.  Each year Educated Pass works with local youth football teams throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians and North Lanarkshire.   


Sport as a building block

The scheme was formed as a response to extensive research that documents lower levels of engagement and performance in school by boys from communities with historically low levels of participation in further and higher education.


Educated Pass works with boys, their coaches and families.  It builds on their understanding of and commitment to sport, to generate a similar commitment to their education.

The project engages the boys with learning across curriculum topics such as anatomy, human rights, poetry, health or maths - all taught through the lens of football.  It emphasises the importance of continuing with study and how this can lead to a successful career in sport and beyond. 

In addition, it gives advice on school, college and university pathways, particularly focusing on the under-14 squads at a time when boys are choosing their National 5 subjects.

Professional support

The initiative, led by Dr Neil Speirs of our Widening Participation team, has been extremely well-received by football managers, players and coaches, many of whom have endorsed the scheme and continue to support it.  The project has strong working relationships with a range of clubs, particularly Hibernian FC. 

We work closely with Edinburgh University AFC as well as student athletes from other sports, all of whom act as positive role models.  Our own research shows that, through this longterm and sustained approach, 98% of the boys that take part in the project have gone on to positive destinations after school.


The Educated Pass programme is an excellent practical vehicle to orientate young football participants to the healthy advantages of physical activity and the life choice advantages of education. Everybody has talents which should be used to their maximum. Sporting achievement gives an immediate return but education gives long term advantages and choices. Give your best at both.

Professor W S Hillis - SFA National Team Doctor, UEFA Medical Committee

Widening Participation

Educated Pass is one of several very successful initiatives created by the University to widen participation by those with the potential to succeed.  Widening participation is about raising aspiration and attainment to encourage more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and adult learners to apply for further and higher education.


Other initiatives include:

  • our early years project which works with pupils from P6 through to S1;
  • Pathways to the Professions and Reach which offer students hands-on experience of what it’s like to study at Edinburgh to be a doctor, vet or lawyer;
  • the ACES project which provides a window into the world of Art and Design;
  • an Access course for adults who want a chance to return to learning after being out of formal education for some years;
  • a number of summer schools, some of which are residential.

Widening participation is also about supporting students throughout their student journey, academically, pastorally and, not least, financially with generous bursary schemes.  The success of this approach is reflected in excellent student retention rates.


Other initiatives include:

  • peer support programs that assist in the transition to undergraduate study;
  • funded short-term international experiences;
  • work experience placements both in the UK and abroad, all of which are funded;
  • promoting volunteering and internship opportunities.


Find out more

To find out more, please contact Dr Neil Speirs at neil.speirs@ed.ac.uk