Author Archives: Amy

“Everybody involved, nobody left out”⤴

from @ Reach

Nobody likes being left out at school. Whether it’s not getting the chance to join in with activities in the classroom, playground or sports field, feeling excluded or unsupported is just SO not what anyone needs.

The good news is that young people called the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are on a mission to help schools think about how they can become more inclusive. They recently met up with Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney to have their say about how important it is that ALL pupils – whatever their age, background, or support need – feel included in school.

Talking about what inclusion means to them and how to make sure pupils feel safe, accepted, and treated equally, the Young Ambassadors shared what matters to them the most:

“Everybody being included in education regardless of need”

“Making it easy for pupils to ask for help and offer the right support”

“Not being defined by any difficulties you have”

The young people thought that it was really important for schools to make sure that everyone understands and has a positive attitude about support needs like disabilities and mental health issues:

“Whole school awareness of additional support needs can support much better understanding and reduce stigma and isolation”.

And by ‘everyone’, the Ambassadors meant not just the pupils but the teachers as well – they told the Education Minister they think that all teachers should have training on inclusion and the different types of support needs pupils may have and how this might affect them in school.

“When staff have an understanding of different additional support needs and can understand certain behaviours, it helps them understand why young people may act in a particular way”

They had some good ideas for how to raise awareness, like holding pupil conferences, taking part in national awareness weeks, putting on school assemblies led by pupils, or developing awareness raising days about specific issues such as mental health or being LGBT.

The Inclusion Ambassadors said that it was really important for schools to make sure pupils with support needs had the same chance as other pupils to have a say in decisions:

“If school don’t support you to try things how will we ever get the chance?”

 “Support staff have ideas of what young people are good at or not good at. Don’t make assumptions.”

We need to create positive stories about pupils with additional support needs rather than focus on the negatives.”

Summing it all up perfectly one Ambassador told John Swinney:

“We want to be seen as individuals with our set of unique strengths and skills. 

So what next for the Inclusion Ambassadors?

After the success of their meeting with the Deputy First Minister, the Inclusion Ambassadors are creating a pledge that schools can use to show they are committed to inclusion. They are also going to make a support pack and short film for schools to raise awareness of inclusion and how important it is to listen to young people’s views.

 

 

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What do YOU think of Reach….?⤴

from @ Reach

We want to make sure the Reach website is what young people like you actually want and need. So we’d like to hear what you think of it and your ideas about how we can make it better. 

When we were developing the website, we involved 75 young people from schools and youth groups across Scotland as youth advisors. They were complete legends! As well as helping us work out how best to reach young people and what our key messages should be, they also helped shape exactly what the website is like. One group that took part was the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee. So how chuffed were we to we to get this lovely piece written by  MSYP Aqeel? Aqeel told us that the Scottish Youth Parliament even passed a motion in support of Reach!

We’re now planning lots more opportunities for young people to get involved with our work and help shape what Reach will look like in the future. Interested? Get in touch to find out how you could get involved, or just drop us an email to let us know what you think of the website…. What works? What’s rubbish? We want the whole picture….

 

  

The Scottish Youth Parliament’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee want to thank Enquire for involving us when developing their brand new website. So what did we do? Well, other than complementing the excellent work of staff at Enquire who always go the extra mile to ensure young people have access to good quality information, we were involved in the site’s design. We were delighted to be able to inform aspects of the website such as the format, logos, the size, the layout and of course the lovely colours to make it all easily accessible and attractive to a young person’s eyes.

We think the website is not just a resource for those who are struggling with mental health or are being bullied. It’s a resource for all of Scotland’s young people; an advice service like no other. It has everything you want all on the same website! If you need exam advice, contacts for support organisations, are being bullying, or are having trouble with mental health, go visit reach.scot now, folks!

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A big thank you to Aqeel MSYP for sharing his thoughts on Reach.

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Young people from all over Scotland call for more say in how schools are run⤴

from @ Reach

Is school fair and the same for everyone? What kind of decisions at school would you like to have more of a say in? Do you feel you would be listened to?

 

These are just some of the questions that over a thousand pupils looked at for a government research project called Excite.Ed.

Young people thought about how pupils could be more involved in decision-making at school. The most popular idea was a school voting system where all pupils can have a say. Other ideas that pupils liked included suggestion boxes in schools; getting the chance to be involved in decisions about any school improvements being planned; and a Young People’s Board to advise the government on how any new changes might affect pupils.
Talking about what pupils wanted a say in, one young person said “how money is spent in schools, how we work best, an influence on our lessons, homework, learning outside the classroom, school hours, what we learn”. Another pupil commented that “we are best placed to be involved as we are the ones learning/impacted but the consultation process needs to be made more engaging”.

Young people also got the chance to make a pitch to the Deputy First Minister John Swinney with some of their top ideas for making schools better, like….

  • being able to choose your guidance teacher so you’re sure it’s someone you will be comfortable talking to.
  • having a feedback board so that you know what’s happening as a result of you sharing your views.
  • taking the pressure off exam time by making 40% of coursework count towards the final grade.
  • having more e-learning so that the same subject choices could be offered whether you’re in a big city school or a little rural one.
  • a pupil government being elected and given the chance to share the pupils’ voices with teachers, parents, other schools and decision makers.

 

The Excite.Ed project was run by Young Scot, Children in Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament. To find our more about young people’s views on how schools can You can read the full report here.

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“I’m Jenny…. and this is MY autism”⤴

from @ Reach

“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….

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3 reasons why pupil participation at school matters⤴

from @ Reach

 

Image reproduced with the permission of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

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. 

Here’s the link to the full report and a BSL version of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner report How Young People’s Participation in School Supports Achievement and Attainment.

 

 

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Lyla: “If I wasn’t dyslexic I wouldn’t be me, I am what you see”⤴

from @ 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. 

And of course, you can contact us if you want to find out about your rights to support at school. 

 

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What’s the plan?⤴

from @ 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.

Confused? Get in touch for more advice about planning your learning and support. 

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Need help to get your views heard?⤴

from @ Reach

An advocacy worker can help you share your views at meetings where decisions are made about you. They can help you work out what you want to say and can even speak for you if that’s what you want.

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. 

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