“Having autism is unique – it’s not painful, or itchy, or sore – it’s just how I see the world”. Check out this Fixers film and hear a girl called Jenny on a campaign to end the stigma about having Aspergers and to show it’s no reason to stop believing in yourself….
There are lots of ways that pupils can get involved in decision making at school. Pupil councils, school votes, giving feedback to teachers, having a say in how the school is run and what you learn. But why does pupil participation matter?
Here are 3 reasons why pupils should have a voice at school:
1.It’s your right!
As a young person, you have the right to have a say in decisions that affect you. That is just one of a long list of rights set out in an international law that almost every country in the world is signed up to. It’s got a long name: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC for short). Basically, it’s a list of promises to young people to listen to you, keep you safe, look after you and treat you fairly.
2. Participate + listened to + included = ‘Do well’.
The team at the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland came up with this nifty way of putting it after talking to over 130 pupils from 7 schools around Scotland: “Being listened to, actively included in school life and decision making and feeling respected is key to helping young people do well at school”.
When pupils get the chance to share their views then the Commissioner’s research shows that this helps you do well at school, because you feel more respected and included. “It makes you more confident ’cause you speak out” as one pupil put it. Another pupil said that at their school “there’s a really high level of mutual respect, that pupils listen to the teachers, but the teachers listen – and value- the pupils’ points of view and things to say, so it makes you more confident and you’re open with your ideas.” Getting on with your teacher seemed really important to pupils feeling able to speak out: “The good relationship with the teacher makes you feel comfortable asking for extra help. Because sometimes it can seem a wee bit daunting especially when you’re in a classroom”.
3. No one else can think about what makes school work well in the way you can.
No one else has the ideas that you have or can think the way that you think. Your words and your thoughts are unique, just like you. It’s only by listening to all their pupils that schools can work out what is best for each and every one of you. As one young person who took part in the research put it: “pupil involvement that the school gives us and responsibility….not just at the pupil council…it’s every single pupil”.
You are never too young to use your voice to speak up about stuff that you care about. And you can use your voice to make a difference to other people at school too. “We’re more aware of the problems in the school than the teachers. They can’t see it from a pupil point of view. The same as we can’t see it from a teacher point of view”.
So that’s it! Three good reasons you can’t argue with….
What are your experiences (good or bad) of having a say at school? We’d love to hear from you.
The post 3 reasons why pupil participation at school matters appeared first on Reach.
Did you know that 1 in 10 people are thought to be dyslexic in some way? That means that over half a million people in Scotland have dyslexia. The word ‘dyslexia’ is a tricky one to spell. The word comes from the Greek and it means ‘difficulty with words’. Dyslexia effects everyone in different ways, but basically it means that you may need help with reading, writing, spelling and sometimes speaking too. People with dyslexia have amazing talents. You only have to look at lists of famous people with dyslexia to realise how the right support can help people with dyslexia achieve incredible things: the actress Keira Knightley, the chef Jamie Oliver, the businessman Sir Richard Branson…. the list goes on.
Another talented person with dyslexia is Lyla, a pupil from Mearns Castle High School who won the Scottish Youth Poetry Slam for this awesome poem. Read it below, or check out Lyla perform the poem in this Facebook video.
My name is Lyla
I love lots of drama, and everyday I am curious
But when I was seven I was diagnosed with something more serious
It sometimes muddles up my words when I write
I can’t read small writing
I don’t really care if people find out… I’m dyslexic.
I find Math and English a wee bit hard
My mum’s dyslexic but she mastered her dream in spite of it.
Being dyslexic can really suck, but if I really try that little bit harder I will master my dream so never give up
Memory is the worst for me I can’t remember much but if I really try like in this poem I really can succeed with a bit of luck
I’m dyslexic as I said before
I don’t care if people find out
If I wasn’t dyslexic I wouldn’t be me I am what you see.
A big thank you to Lyla for letting us share her poem.
If you’ve got dyslexia, Dyslexia Scotland are there for you to help and listen to you.
The post Lyla: “If I wasn’t dyslexic I wouldn’t be me, I am what you see” appeared first on Reach.
If you get extra support at school, you may have a learning support plan. Your plan will set out targets for each term, and the support you need to reach them.
You have the right to be involved in deciding what goes in this plan. You should get the chance to talk to your teachers about whether the plan is working out well for you.
Check out this great BSL film by Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.
The post Being included in decision making helps you do well at school appeared first on Reach.
You can ask your school or council for help finding an advocacy worker. Or call the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance 0131 524 1975.
If you’re care experienced, check out who your local advocate is at Who Cares? Scotland.
“My name is Lauren, I’m 18 years old, I’ve been supported by the Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Young Carers Project since I was in primary school and I’m in my last week of sixth year! I’m so excited to leave school, feeling as ready as ever to begin the next chapter at university. I’m only feeling ready to leave because of the amazing support I received at school for being a Young Carer.
Over the last three years I’ve had the support from the most amazing Pastoral teacher who has helped and guided me into the next path that I’m about to take and I’m forever grateful that I’ve had her support.
Until I started getting support from my pastoral head, I was in a horrible place at school, where I bottled up all my stress and worry about home life and life as a Carer and it was eating me up. One day I burst into tears in the middle of a class because I didn’t understand what was going on and the stress got too much for me. And that was my first encounter with my Pastoral.
Since then I’ve gone nowhere but upwards, achieving National 5s, Highers and even having a stab at an Advanced Higher, as well as getting a place at university. I’ve heard so many stories about young carers not receiving any support from school and I don’t know what I would do without my pastoral, she’s been my safety net more times than either of us imagined!
I can’t wait to leave school. Because of all the support I’ve had from school and from the Young Carers Project, I feel ready to experience university life while being a Young Adult Carer because I know who I can turn to. I’ll miss my Pastoral teacher so much when I leave, she’s been a rock and I’m forever grateful to her. Here’s to new beginnings!”
The post Young carer has her say on leaving school and the difference support can make appeared first on Reach.
It seems like everybody’s talking about how Scotland can get better at supporting people’s mental health. The Scottish Government have a new plan – called the ten-year Mental Health Strategy.
We like the way See Me Scotland explain why having a plan like this matters: ‘We all have mental health and the results of this strategy must be that when we are struggling, we feel safe and supported to speak out and get help, in any area of our life, without the chance of being dismissed or judged.’
The Mental Health Strategy has lots of plans for making mental health support for young people better. Here are some of the things it sets out to do:
- To review the mental health support that pupils get in schools.
- To look into counselling in schools and other places for young people.
- To think about how Personal and Social Education (PSE) lessons at school could do more to get pupils talking about mental health and teach them about where they can get info, advice and support.
- To get better at supporting young people with their mental health issues early on, before they get worse.
What do YOU think of the Government’s Strategy for Mental Health?
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) have been campaigning about many of the issues talked about it in the strategy for over a year with their Speak Your Mind campaign and their report Our generation’s epidemic. MSYP Lewis Douglas recently told Reach that after talking with almost 1500 young people, MSYPs had found that “one in five young people did not know where to go for advice and support for a mental health problem. Young people also said that, as well as embarrassment and a fear of being judged, a lack of understanding about mental health is a major barrier to talking openly about the issue.”
The good news is that there are already schools that are doing some great things around mental health. For example, we just read about how pupils at Castle Douglas High School staged a take over at their school for a week to get people talking about mental health and how to challenge stigma.
Castle Douglas pupils used See Me Scotland’s What’s on Your Mind?’ pack to do their own lessons on mental health with younger pupils at the school. Genius! No wonder they even got their story on the telly… Check out what they had to say here.
The post Seems like everybody’s talking about mental health appeared first on Reach.
If you’re having a hard time and life is getting you down, we totally get that it’s not always easy to ask for help. Here’s some of the reasons why you might not want to talk about issues in your lives:
- No one will understand
- I feel I can cope on my own
- I don’t want adults interfering in my personal life
- People might label or judge me
- My friends won’t want to hang out with me anymore.
So why ask for help? By sharing your problems with someone you trust, you might find it easier to cope with them. And they might be able to help you find ways to change the things in your life that you want to.
We like what Childline say about this: “Someone else can often help you see your problem differently. They could give you new ideas on how to cope with things…Putting things into words often helps. Sometimes it’s just good to say what’s on your mind. Talking to someone could make you feel like you don’t have to deal with it on your own.”
First steps. Starting the coversation might be the hardest part. Here’s 3 great conversation starters from Childline:
“I want to tell you something but I don’t know how.”
“This is hard for me to say, but I have something important to tell you.”
“I need some advice on something I’m stressed about.”
Or you could say that you’re asking for advice for a friend. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend you aren’t talking about yourself.
There’s loads more good advice on Childline’s website about who to talk to, how to plan what you want to say, and what to do if you don’t want to talk to anyone face to face.