Taking Part

The Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award
Delivered by The Outward Bound Trust

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Team on Scimitar Ridge, Glen Nevis

Information for Participants and Parents

If you have any questions about taking part in the Award, either as a participant or a parent you should find the answers here. If not - please use the contact page to get in touch and we'll happily answer direct

What is The Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award?

The Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award is a personal development award for young people across the Central Belt of Scotland. It was set up after the sectarian murder of teenager Mark Scott, and over 2500 young people have gained The Award since 1998.

The Award involves a 5-day residential training course at an Outward Bound Trust centre, and up to 4 months of working to set up and deliver a community project, fundraising if necessary.

What are the benefits?

Our research shows that The Award gives young people vital life skills which support them in moving into further education or work; participation in The Award increases young people’s feeling of responsibility towards their community and makes them more willing to volunteer their time to help others; and the experience of taking part in The Award continues to influence individuals for many years afterwards. They gain self-confidence, make lasting friendships and often surprise themselves with what they can achieve!

What is the organisation behind the Award?

We are The Outward Bound Trust, the UK’s oldest provider of high-quality outdoor learning. We have run the Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award since its beginning, initially on behalf of The Mark Scott Foundation, who then in 2013 handed over the whole Award to us to run.

Where do you apply for a place on the Award?

Young people at participating schools apply online. If accepted onto The Award, they will work in a group of up to 14 from nearby schools. Each group includes people from at least one Catholic school as well as non-denominational schools.

There are 216 places available annually for participants from 76 selected schools in 18 areas across the Central Belt.

What's the process to get a place on the Award ?
  1. Complete the online application form - it's vital that you give an email address on this form that you will check even during the summer holiday.
  2. We'll then register you on our database and you will be sorted into your school applications for consideration.

3. Once we have reviewed all applications from your area, we will be in touch to let you know if you have a place.

  • We fill places in waves throughout the summer so you may not hear anything from us for a while – don’t worry though! An offer of a place may even come in the Autumn term depending on how places are filled in your area.

4. If accepted as a participant - we will send you a link by email to set up an Outward Bound Account. This will contain the medical form which you must complete straight away. (The Participant information Form or PIF)

5. We will also send you a link to an online Contract which we will need you to fill in and return to us.

6. At this point we will ask you to confirm your place with payment of a £30 non-refundable administration fee (this is all you have to pay for the whole award) - If you need support, more time to pay, or believe someone else is paying for you, you just need to let us know

  • The Admin fee is the only cost to take part
  • We will send you an email confirming receipt of all three elements and your position of fully confirmed participant. Congratulations!
What are the aims of the Award?

The Award aims to increase community cohesion. The Award also aims for participants to:

  • Become more confident individuals, and develop the skills for independent learning
  • Develop teamwork and project management skills and an awareness of how to lead others
  • Develop awareness of, and show greater respect for others from different backgrounds
  • Develop a sense of social responsibility by delivering projects that benefit their local community and have a positive impact on their community.
What will a participant have to do and what time commitment is needed?

Each participant is expected to fully participate in every aspect of The Award. This includes:

  • a 5-day residential course in the late summer or autumn
  • a project group meeting every week for the duration of the programme
  • an evening Project Forum
  • a Refresh Day, where the whole team gets together to revisit their residential experience and reflect on their learning
  • any necessary fundraising events
  • three project delivery days.
  • a final review meeting with their Project Coordinator
  • The Award Ceremony in the spring

This will almost certainly involve some time out of school, depending on what each team chooses to do. Participants are expected to manage this themselves. The Award will be finished by the end of March, and the Award ceremony takes place soon after Easter.

There are also a couple of online questionnaires which help us to evaluate the effectiveness of The Award. Parents will also be asked to complete one of these short surveys.

How much does it cost?

The Award costs nothing for participants apart from a £30 administration fee (and a £10 returnable deposit for the residential week). Our fundraising from sources including the Scottish Government meets the roughly £1600 cost of putting a young person through the Award.

Participants may need to organise fundraising events themselves to meet the specific costs of their community projects. This is part of the challenge that they choose to set themselves.

What happens on the residential course?

Young people arrive at the Outward Bound centre on the first day of the course, and meet for the first time the others from their area who will form their team of 12 to 14 people. Over five days, they will experience an intense personal development course using adventure in the outdoors as the learning environment.

By undergoing challenges as individuals and as teams, including an overnight expedition, the participants find out more about their capabilities and grow in confidence and ability.

Participants also learn some psychological models for understanding themselves and others, and business models for organising projects.

What support is available for participants?

Each group has a “Project Coordinator” –an Outward Bound Trust instructor experienced in facilitating the personal development of young people.

The Project Coordinator is with the group through the whole programme, leading the residential course and attending project group meetings to advise and to monitor progress. We recognise that making mistakes and learning from them is an important part of development, and so Project Coordinators will allow young people the freedom to get things wrong occasionally, and will be there to give support and to help participants learn from their experience.

Each school has a nominated member of staff – a “School Champion” – to act as a link between the young people, the school, and the Outward Bound Trust. School Champions are often members of senior management teams or are experienced guidance staff.

Parents - How can you support my young person through The Award?

Some young people struggle with the pressures of fitting The Award into an already busy life. You can help by encouraging them to manage their time and by understanding that some time working out of school or in the evenings will be needed.

As the Award progresses, evaluation shows us that participants develop their planning ability and many find that this helps them organise their time better, making their year easier, and study more effective.

The Award has over 2 decades of seeing students through 6th year and ensuring it is not adding stress to the year - we have a considerable number of graduates who are qualified or studying for Medicine - if they can manage this into their lives, almost anyone else can.

My young person is already doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or the Saltire Award

We understand that young people have many opportunities to get awards for their hard work. For instance, the residential element of the Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award can be counted towards the Gold DofE residential experience requirement. Participants also count for up to 70 hours towards a Saltire Award, and as the Award encourages volunteering, elements may fit requirements for other Awards such as the Caritas Award.

What sort of things would the community project involve?

That is limited only by the imagination and resources of the team. Past projects have included: delivering basic life support (CPR) skills to every P6 child in their area; running a ‘pop-up’ soup kitchen for homeless people; renovating community centres; providing stimulating activities for elderly people; and creating gardens for residential care homes.

All that matters is that the team do something either with or for their community, and that it lasts the equivalent of three days.

Can I see the evaluation of a past course?

We evaluate the programme annually to make sure that the outcomes we want to see are indeed achieved, and to keep it relevant to what is important to young people and their communities today.

For the full evaluation of the 21/22 Award follow the link below, or you can read the impact report here

Where can I find out more?

Just look at the rest of this website! If you would like to speak to one of our team, please use the details on the contact page to get in touch.

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Additional Information and more Q&A's for Participants


If you are accepted as a participant, but we are then unable to contact you, we may need to give your place to someone else, so please ensure you regularly monitor your e-mail address, or get someone else to do it for you if you are on holiday.

If you are accepted as a participant but decide later that you no longer wish to take part then you must contact us as soon as possible so that we can give your place to someone else. If you do not tell us in time, we may not be able to fill your place and our funder’s money will not be able to be used to help a young person.


Our residential courses will take place between August and October at the Loch Eil Centre near Fort William. You can see which week you’re likely to be going away for at this page: The Residential. Bear in mind that some schools might be sending people on more than one week, so check carefully – we will email you with your course dates anyway.

Residential dates will be confirmed in June ready for the Autumn Term.

If you need more information, please get in touch using the details at the foot of this page.

The dates of the milestone events in the programme depend on which residential course you attend. See the table below for details. Attendance at these events – and at the community project which you will arrange – is compulsory to gain the full Award.

The Project Forum is an evening event, held in Glasgow. You will need to take time out of school to attend your Refresh Day.

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