“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….
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.
Hello, I’m Mark, I’m a 17-year-old pupil at school in Cumbernauld and I’m the Inclusion Ambassador for North Lanarkshire.
I went to Luxembourg to represent Scotland in a Europe-wide inclusive education conference. When we were there I got a good idea of what was important for pupils all over Europe – the key message is “Everything about us, with us”. We want to be heard and we want to have a say in anything that has to do with us. We are the experts in our own needs and we know what works and what doesn’t.
This is not just a message for politicians. It is the teachers that make the immediate difference to how inclusive a school is.
Take my school – before I moved up to high school my year head met with my parents and me. We worked out barriers for me in and around the school, spoke with teachers in private to make sure they understood my needs and made a clear plan for every type of situation at school. This might all seem quite a bit of work for one pupil, yet this only took three meetings and it was all made so much easier because of the talking and listening that went on between me and the teacher.
Sadly, some pupils do not have such a good experience as me, which is why I’m pleased to be one of the Inclusion Ambassadors for Education Scotland. We are a national group of young people who act as a ‘voice’ for pupils on inclusion. We share our views and experiences with Scottish Government Ministers, local authorities and schools. We are hoping to develop resources, a school pledge and a film in the coming months.
Here are three of our top priorities to make schools more inclusive:
- Social Problems: being excluded at break times and not having enough chances to be included and make friends are big issues. My school found a way around this by setting up a club where pupils could play computer games and socialise. This helped pupils who were often quiet to come out of their shell.
- Issues with Support staff: For some pupils (but not all), having support staff can sometimes feel like a barrier to their social life, and they might not need them as they get older.
- Awareness: We feel that there isn’t enough done by schools to raise awareness of the issues that pupils face or the reasons they need support. The worst thing schools can do is to pick out a specific pupil – that’s just everyone’s worst nightmare – but what schools can do is to educate the year group that other people have different needs and promote the fact that you are a diverse and inclusive school so it’s great to have all types of pupils.
For me, talking and listening are the key to true inclusion because without this everything you might be doing could be entirely irrelevant to the pupil. After all, how can you include someone who isn’t involved in the conversation?
“I’m Lynzy and I work as the Policy Ambassador for Who Cares? Scotland. I also grew up in care. Who Cares? Scotland is an independent advocacy and campaign organisation that works with care experienced young people, helping them to be listened to. We know that when young people are heard great things happen. The last time the Scottish Parliament listened to care experienced young people, a law called the Children and Young People Act 2014 was brought in and it included some of the biggest changes to care in a long time. However, we know that bigger changes are still needed. This is why Who Cares? Scotland came up with the 1000 Voices campaign.
1000 Voices asks that 1000 care experienced young people’s voices are listened to by the First Minister. We hope that by hearing from 1000 care experienced young people the First Minister will understand how things can be made better for them. In September 2016 the First Minister visited our national office in Glasgow and I got to meet her. After she had spoken with us she decided to back the 1000 Voices campaign over the next two years. Not long after this, she also decided there should be a review of care in Scotland.
As someone with care experience I think it is vital for our voices to be heard. We are the ones that live in care so we know how it really works and what it feels like, better than anyone else. Sharing things about yourself can be scary at the time, but afterwards I have always felt empowered. I remember the first time I shared my story, I felt like a bag of nerves but then I felt really listened to. I felt that everything I said had meaning and that finally my story was being understood and not judged.
I believe that the First Minister listening to 1000 voices could improve the life chances of young people who come into care. I especially hope that ‘1000 voices’ can make it easier for care experienced young people to get the support they need to get the most out of their education. Young people in care already face lives full of upheaval and uncertainty. They must cope with being separated from their families, adjusting to a new way of life, getting to know new people, as well as going to meetings, reviews and children’s hearings. Even though care experienced young people have the right to extra support in school, this doesn’t always happen. I believe that if our views are listened to, more people will understand what support we need in education and how important it is that we get it. We could improve the chances of care experienced young people going on to college and university, something that a lot of us never think we can achieve. I believe that if we, care experienced young people, are listened to, there is so much more we can achieve in the world.”
If you are interested in hearing about how you can get involved with 1000 Voices, contact email@example.com.
The post The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is listening to 1,000 care experienced voices appeared first on Reach.
A film from the Leaders of Learning project. #LeadLearnScot
Filmed at Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans, East Lothian.
The post Pupils’ views ‘Planning our learning: a guide to including us’ appeared first on Reach.
Hello, this is Jordan . I’m 19 years old, live in Ardrossan and I am autistic. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 3. It affects my daily lifestyle in many ways. I also am the author of “JUST Jordan”, a newsletter that I write monthly about topics that affect me as an autistic person. I am passionate about raising awareness about autism, so much so I have won two awards for my voluntary work at the National Autistic Society.
When I was at school, I always felt the need to tell everyone I met, my classmates, about the fact I am autistic because I felt like sharing my diagnosis so that everyone knew why I acted differently from other people. Their reaction was mostly that they didn’t know what autism was so I explained it to them, in the most simple way I could. I guess you could say I got the odd inclusion from then on. However, it was probably harder to explain autism to my teachers because they would have to find out my needs for the classroom, schoolwork and other things like that. But there was one teacher from secondary school who completely understood me. He was my guidance teacher who would come to help me if need be, for example: helping me with social skills.
At secondary school, my favourite subjects were Art and Design (I was and still am pretty artistic as you will see from my newsletter), Games Development (gaming is one of my favorite things to do and I wanted to learn more about how to make one) and Maths (I am quite bright and was really good at Maths). Another hobby of mine is to go out for a drive in my car since I passed my driving test last year and now I can go visit my friends whenever I please. I am also very much into helping my mother organize fundraising events for the National Autistic Society and Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust, both charities that mean a lot to us.
When I was still in school, I didn’t really feel a lot of social pressure because I usually went to a room where pupils with learning difficulties or anything similar would socialize in the school break and lunch time. It was called the “Social Base” and this is where I found my best friends and we have remained friends ever since. As a result, I never really experienced my personal struggles, which are noise and the smell of certain things. I think social bases in schools really help pupils fit in, make new friends and help with communication skills. However, I eventually got the confidence to leave the “Social Base” to socialize with other pupils but ended up just watching people socializing around me instead of getting involved myself.
School wasn’t exactly all sunshine as I did have to confront bullies. If school life could be made better for young people with autism in one way, it would have to be how to deal with bullies. Bullies would need to understand how they upset others from the victim’s point of view and would need to be educated that others are different in their own way and that they should not be criticised on their differences. If they are curious about someone, then the bullies should ask an appropriate question which doesn’t offend the other person.
At least the big move from primary to secondary school was not a problem for me as everything was well planned, for example the bus routes from my house to school were already in place as was the introductory tour of the school, in which we experienced a full week of secondary school with our future classmates and teachers. I also got all of my new school supplies and uniform. Also, the headteacher from the secondary school came to explain what it would be like there.
Now that I have graduated from school and passed my exams, I spend my time by doing voluntary work as a young campaigner, also at the One Stop Shop where I supervise group activities, and doing admin at the local radio station 3TFM.
What I am most proud of though is my newsletter JUST Jordan, which you can read here.
The post Jordan’s story – autism, school, friends and other life lessons appeared first on Reach.
Rights are used to make sure you feel safe, looked after, respected and listened to. They are like a list of promises for treating you fairly.
In Scotland, there is a law that gives you the right to get extra support if you are having a hard time at school for any reason. This law is called the Additional Support for Learning Act (or the ASL Act for short).
The ASL Act makes sure that people listen to what you and your parents and carers think about your learning needs. It gives your parents and carers rights to ask your school to find out if you need extra support at school. If you’re over 16 you have the same rights as your parents and carers (as long as you are able to give your views, take part in decisions and understand what they might mean to you in school).
How the law is changing to give pupils more rights ….
Last year, after listening and talking to lots of young people, families and professionals, the Scottish Government decided to pass a new law (called the Education Act 2016) to give younger people the same rights as parents, carers and over 16s.
What does this mean for me???
This means that, from November 2017 (when the new rights kick in), if you’re 12 or over (and you are able to give your views, take part in decisions and understand what they might mean to you in school) you’ll have rights like being able to ask your school to find out if you need extra support, or make an appeal if you’re not happy with the support you’re getting.
What do young people think about these new rights?
Young people who talked to the charity Children in Scotland thought having more rights was a good idea because:
“Your parents might not understand what’s right.”
“You understand yourself more than anyone.”
“Everyone should have rights and that should be respected.”
but one pupil said:
“I wouldn’t understand them, I would like someone to tell me about them. It would help me if someone went through them with me.”
Confused? Don’t worry! Laws are complicated things. We are here to help you understand your rights to support at school. Contact us to find out more about the law and how it is changing.