Author Archives: Amy

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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Young carer has her say on leaving school and the difference support can make⤴

from @ Reach

Young carers do an amazing job juggling caring and school work, but it’s not always easy.
If you’re caring for someone at home, the right support can make all the difference in helping you get the most out of school. Young carer Lauren, who shares her story below, is a great example of this.
Got a story (good or bad) about what school’s been like for you as a young carer? What do YOU think schools can do to help young carers? Get in touch, we are here to listen and have useful advice about getting support… 

 

“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!”

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