North East Economic Recovery Skills Fund: The Deens Project

The North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF) is a £14.3 million investment by the Scottish Government to support economic recovery and enhance skill levels in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire through key sector growth, employment, training, and skills development opportunities.

The fund is delivering 29 projects that will benefit more than 3,000 people across the region. The projects focus on:

  • entrepreneurship
  • accelerated business start-up, development and growth
  • increasing digital skills in the workforce
  • equality and inclusion
  • upskilling and reskilling

The North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund delivery partners are Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Skills Development Scotland, Robert Gordon University, University of Aberdeen, Opportunity North East, Energy Transition Zone Limited, and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

The Deens project

The council is responsible for delivering the Deens project which is a collaboration between schools, Community Learning and Development (CLD) team and Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust.

The aim is to re-engage young people in the learning process and help them gain qualifications, achievements and skills for their future work and life. There is an additional focus on the promotion of a growth mindset, improved resilience, ambitious career planning and good management of mental health.

There are a whole range of experiences within the programme: outdoor activities that develop young people’s physical abilities confidence and resilience, nurturing their leadership skills as they work alongside younger pupils, for example and a focus on career planning and the type of occupations they would like to explore. The young people are encouraged to develop a positive mindset and a 'can do' attitude that helps build up their self-esteem and open further opportunities of learning for them.

Coaching skills

A group of our young people have embarked on their coaching certification with the Trust. They have been involved in the planning of the delivery of games and football focused training for a primary class in their locality.

There has been a great deal of enthusiasm and engagement from students in these activities, with good reflective discussions and an evaluation of their own performance with a view to making changes to the programme in the future. One of our cohort led a group of over twenty pupils in a warm-up with no assistance from the Trust staff, a great example of stepping up and leading in a new context.

Case study 1

One of the activities was centred around coasteering at Cove Bay with CLD team who led a group of our young people in this activity. Young people were required to follow instructions carefully and to have a full understanding of health and safety procedures. There were high levels of positive participation with young people supporting and encouraging each other to try out new things and attempt activities out of their comfort zone. These are great foundational life skills for our students for their future as a part of a team in the workplace. Additionally they all ended the day with enhanced sense of personal achievement.


  • Young people respond positively to advice
  • Young people access new learning opportunities
  • Young people support each other within a group

Case study 2: Liam

When talking to Liam about the impact he thinks PeterDeen has had on him, he said:

  • To start with he didn’t want to do anything anyone told him and was close to getting thrown out of the programme
  • He had a number of exclusions
  • He didn’t like coming to school and was skipping classes

Negatives about the programme from Liam

Sometimes the group gets punished or into trouble for something an individual has done, he doesn’t think this is always fair. He doesn’t like if on a PeterDeen day he ends up stuck inside doing something boring as people end up messing about and then they all get into trouble.

Positives about the programme from Liam

Recently, Liam has identified that he is happy to engage in the programme. He likes coming in on PeterDeen days as he feels he is learning something useful, particularly doing mechanics or visiting places and businesses related to the fishing industry. Liam has identified this is where he sees himself working after he finishes school. In partnership with Liam, PeterDeen partners have been working with North East Scotland College to look at the courses on offer at the Scottish Maritime Academy that may benefit him.

Liam feels he is in less trouble in school and has had less exclusions. He has realised he needs to get good grades in the classes he does attend in school. He gets on much better with staff, as he now feels he is asked what he wants to do and that the programme is fun and interesting, so attendance is better.

Case Study 3: Lewis


Prior to joining the FraserDeen project Lewis had been on a reduced timetable for the majority of S2. This was put in place as it was identified that Lewis was not coping with a full-time timetable. Lewis had a pupil support worker and spent time in E9 and the Junction to support his learning and to work on positive decision-making and dealing with difficult and challenging situations. Lewis was known to just get up and walk out of classes and neither the school nor his parents would know his whereabouts. Lewis’ behaviour could be very challenging and unpredictable at times, with angry emotional outbursts. There had at times been concerns about Lewis’ homelife too. Lewis confided to a staff member he did at time have dark thoughts.


When Lewis first joined the FraserDeen program he quite frequently had loud and unpredictable outbursts which normally ended with him breaking something and walking out. Lewis did not engage well in FraserDeen sessions and could be very disruptive. Due to ongoing health conditions Lewis never participated in FraserDeen sporting activities. Staff took a patient approach to Lewis’ learning by firstly focusing on building strong relations and by allowing Lewis some breathing space. Lewis soon became one of the first scholars to arrive in the morning and he seemed to enjoy good conversation over some breakfast. During his time at FraserDeen Lewis’ approach to learning has changed and he now has a more positive outlook on his life.

Impact and Outcomes

Since Lewis joined the FraserDeen project he has taken more accountability for his own learning and decision-making. Lewis’ confidence has increased which in turn has allowed Lewis to engage and participate in all FraserDeen learning and sporting activities. This increase in confidence has allowed him to be more active, consciously making healthier choices inside and outside of school. Lewis now shows more empathy and understanding, and is courteous and respectful to staff and his peers, which is reciprocated by the other FraserDeen scholars. Lewis is more resilient and has a positive attitude helping him to be more prepared to deal with challenging situations. Lewis has shown a huge improvement in his own self-control.


Lewis’ attendance throughout the year within his FraserDeen days has increased term by term. In Term 1 his attendance was 62.5%, in Term 2 this rose to 93.33%, and in Term 3 he maintained a 100% attendance record.

When Lewis initially joined the FraserDeen project, his attendance and time keeping were very inconsistent. Lewis’ attendance is now regular as well as having excellent time keeping skills. Due to previous health conditions, Lewis often has appointments, now he always makes staff aware of his schedule, which shows that his planning and preparation has improved.


For more information please contact:

David Clark
School Support Officer