Scottish Educational System for Tourist Guides by Rosalind Newlands

In Scotland, potential guides must apply to the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. They are interviewed and language screened and then if accepted they go on a 4-day introductory course. They have to do presentations and a written assignment. If they pass that at minimum of 60% they are invited to become Student Associate Members of STGA. 

They start the course which is run for us by the University of Edinburgh and includes Core Knowledge, Practical Skills and Regional Studies (i.e. Applied core knowledge to different parts of Scotland). The course lasts for 2 years and includes 128 hours core knowledge, 280 hours guiding skills/regional studies - this is a mixture of web based distance learning, tutorials, lectures and field visits including two 7 day extended tours around Scotland and several weekend trips. 

They are assessed on coach, foot and on site and have to write 4 essays plus a longer project and tour notes. If they pass all this, they apply to sit the STGA membership exam which lasts for 4 days and includes a written exam, a project, oral questions on any area of Scotland, oral questions on practical issues and assessment on coach, site and walk. They are assessed in English but have to do the practical sessions in English and in any language they intend to guide in (whether it is their native language or not) They must pass at 70% and they are then awarded the Blue Badge, a joint STGA, University of Edinburgh Certificate and a Certificate in Scottish Studies (which can count for a degree if they want). The level is University 2nd year or Educational Level 4. Most students are graduates and usually over 22 years. We also accredit guides at Level 3 - who are qualified for an island or group of islands within Scotland only - they do a shorter course but the standard expected is the same - just for a smaller geographical area. 

Next year we will also accredit Site Guides at Level 2 - people who work on one site i.e. A castle or do a fixed route i.e. An open bus city tour or a fixed walk. We do have unqualified guides however and there are no laws to prevent that but we do have support from the Scottish Executive and the Tourist Board and hope to bring more of them into the fold through the different categories. 

Rosalind Newlands
Scottish Tourist Guides Association