The Scottish FA JD Performance School programme has been bearing fruit on the professional club scene over the last few months with five graduates having now made their bow for first teams.
In partnership with the Scottish FA, the seven Performance Schools deliver an extensive, challenging programme for the country’s most talented young footballers.
The programme is for boys and girls and runs from S1 to S4 and has entered its sixth year.
The Scottish FA employs seven full-time Performance Youth Coaches who have responsibility for the delivery of the programmes in each school.
The seven partner schools are as follows:
Braidhurst High School – Motherwell
Broughton High School – Edinburgh
Graeme High School – Falkirk
Grange Academy – Kilmarnock
Hazlehead Academy – Aberdeen
Holyrood Secondary School – Glasgow
St John’s High School – Dundee
Cochrane becomes Hearts regular
On Saturday, 30 September Harry Cochrane became the first Performance School graduate to start a match in the Premiership against Dundee at Dens Park.
Cochrane began his Performance School journey at Grange Academy and studied in Kilmarnock for three years, travelling every day by taxi from Stonehouse in South Lanarkshire.
He then left Grange Academy to return to a school in his hometown so he could train more regularly with Hearts.
The dedication has paid off for the young midfielder who made his debut for Hearts on 30 September and played 73 minutes in their 2-1 defeat to Dundee.
He has since gone on to make five appearances for their first team including the recent Edinburgh derby.
Speaking about his whirlwind last month he said: “I don’t really know what to think of it all to be honest. I never thought it’d be me playing in the Premiership at all, never mind at 16. It’s amazing but I want this to just be the start.”
Harris O’Connor Interview
Scotland Under-16s and Rangers defender Harris O'Connor sat down to speak about attending Grange Academy Performance School and his ambitions for the future.
Performance School representatives to the fore in international success
Former Performance School coach Brian McLaughlin led Scotland Under-17s to their fifth consecutive elite round across in Estonia.
With a squad of 20, containing 15 Performance School pupils, McLaughlin’s youngsters progressed to the elite round on the back of an unbeaten trip. All of the goalscorers have graduated from the programme.
Scotland opened with a well-earned 2-1 win over Andorra – with Marc Leonard bagging a brace.
A 3-0 defeat was then inflicted on Estonia thanks to goals from Jamie Semple, Billy Gilmour and Dean Campbell. The tournament was concluded with a 0-0 draw with Denmark.
Last month, Scotland Women's Under-15s, under-17s and under-19s all qualified from their respective qualifying groups with Performance School pupils Neve Guthrie, Summer Christie, Phillipa McCallum, Leah Fleming, Sara McWhirter, Jemma Marriott, Sam Kerr and Megan Ross all involved.
Campbell excelling on and off the pitch with Hazlehead Academy
On 12 May this year Hazlehead Academy’s Dean Campbell sat his National 5 English exam on the day he made his competitive debut for Aberdeen against Celtic.
He achieved an ‘A’ in the exam hall and led the way for the Hazlehead Academy Performance School pupils who excelled academically.
The 12 S4 and nine S5 footballing pupils achieved fantastic exam results, amassing an impressive haul of 14 National 4, 47 National 5 and 32 Higher awards.
Among the highlights were five straight A’s at National 5 for S4 pupil Shaun Spence and an equally perfect five A’s at Higher level for Jack McKenzie.
Andy Thomson links up with SWNT
Braidhurst Performance School assistant coach Andy Thomson has left the programme to join the Scotland Women’s National Team as Shelley Kerr’s assistant coach having previously worked with her at the University of Stirling.
Congratulations to Broughton High School’s Greg Miller who is set to move on as Performance School coach after six years, joining Barnsley FC as Head of Coaching.