Tag Archives: Having your say

Getting it right for all pupils⤴

from @ Reach

Here’s something that can make a big difference to pupils’ lives. Ever heard of GIRFEC? It’s short for Getting it Right for Every Child. GIRFEC helps the adults who support you to work together to make sure you are ok and that you get the support you need. Check out this GIRFEC wheel picture. Teachers and other people who support you might use this wheel when talking to you about what is going well in your life and where you need more help.

What does GIRFEC mean for you?

GIRFEC should make sure that:

  • You understand what is happening and why.
  • You have been listened to and your wishes have been heard, understood and taken into account.
  • You feel confident about the help you are getting.
  • You are involved in discussions and decisions that affect you.
  • You know you will get support that is right for you as soon as possible.
  • People that are supporting you work together to make sure you get the support you need

Check out Ryan’s story to get an idea of what GIRFEC looks like in real life.

GIRFEC isn’t that easy to get your head around. One council has made an app to help make sense of it, worth checking out. 

Here’s how some of the older pupils at Gourock Primary  have helped people understand what GIRFEC is about by setting up a social enterprise. If your secondary school have done any projects like this, would be great to hear from you.

“The Games Café began with an idea from our P6 pupils in the school. They wanted to make sure that the rest of the pupils in the school knew the 8 wellbeing indicators. They thought of a game board with the wellbeing wheel in the centre and some stops around the outside where the player would think about the indicators. The Girfec Gameboard with question cards was completed and printed a year later.

We entered a local Dragons’ Den style competition where we pitched an idea to spread the word of our Girfec Gameboard through a Games Café for the school and community. This was a Social Enterprise bid and all funds would go to our Partner school in Malawi.

The Games Café has been running since August 2016 and already we have had parents, pupils and members of the community coming along to the Games Café for a coffee or tea, home baking and a chance to play the game.”

A big thank you to the Girfec Group at Gourock for writing this – Jess, Adam ,Duncan, Ellie & Maya.

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What helps young people feel included in school?⤴

from @ 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?

 

 

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The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is listening to 1,000 care experienced voices⤴

from @ Reach

“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 hello@whocaresscotland.org.

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Just found out you’ve got dyslexia? Get advice from young people who know how you’re feeling….⤴

from @ Reach

This letter has been written by 2 pupils who wanted to offer advice to any young people who may have just found out that they are also dyslexic. 

Dear friend,

Don’t worry. It might be a bit of a shock to find out that you are dyslexic. However, some of the smartest people in the world are dyslexic. Did you know that Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean is dyslexic? Also Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driver. Richard Branson is a millionaire and owner of Virgin T.V, Virgin airlines, Virgin money and lots of other businesses. Not only is he smart but he is also dyslexic.

There are lots of things that you can use to help you with your learning. Your school, family and friends can help. Some of the things we use are coloured reading rulers or tinted glasses. You can use computers to help you search for information or for writing. There are lots of dyslexia friendly games you can use and dyslexia friendly books.

Don’t be embarrassed about telling friends and family. The more people who know, the more people can help. The same at school. If teachers know they can help and give you suitable work.

Thanks for reading this. We hope this has helped you,

From Joshua and Alistair.

If you’re a young person with dyslexia, you can get in touch with Dyslexia Scotland on 0344 800 8484 or email helpline@dyslexiascotland.org.uk . There’s also some good advice and info on the Dyslexia Scotland website, including how to get your voice heard. 

This letter was in Dyslexia Scotland’s publication Young Persons’ Dyslexia Voice. Many thanks to the young writers Joshua Geddes and Alastair MacDonald for letting us feature it on Reach.Scot 

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Tips on going to school meetings⤴

from @ Reach

You should get the chance to have your say at meetings to plan what you learn and the support you need. If you’re nervous about going to meetings you can take someone with you to help you get your views across.

Remember:

  • You know yourself better than anyone else does
  • Before you go into a meeting think about what’s important to you
  • Adults must listen to what you think is right for you
  • Getting involved can make you feel more in control of your life
  • There are people who can help you have a say. They are called advocates. Ask your school to help you find one.

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Does worrying about how you look hold you back at school? Let’s get real…⤴

from @ Reach

Do you feel under pressure from people at school to have the ‘perfect’ body? Social media, magazines, TV, films – sometimes it can feel like you can’t get away from all those pics of celebrities that tell you how you should look, what you should eat, and how you should behave.

If you find it hard to feel confident at school because of how you look, you’re not alone. Here are some of the findings from a recent survey by the YMCA called Somebody Like Me, where secondary school pupils all over the UK were asked about how they feel about their body image:

  • More than half of young people (52%) said they often worry about the way they look.
  • Almost a third (30%) of secondary school pupils said that not feeling confident about their bodies had made them isolate themselves so they didn’t have to take part in sport or other activities.
  • Almost three in five (57%) have or would consider going on a diet to change the way they look.
  • One in 10 (10%) would even consider having cosmetic surgery to change the way they look.

The Be Real Campaign is out to change how we feel about our bodies. They’re working with schools to encourage pupils to celebrate REAL bodies, of all shapes and sizes – each one completely and perfectly unique. If you think your school should do more to help pupils feel confident about their bodies, tell your teachers about this Be Real toolkit. The Be Real Campaign are also asking fashion, music and advertising companies to sign a pledge to say they will use more natural, real images of people – instead of airbrushing, using photoshop and only choosing super skinny models or blokes with big muscles.

Check out this film to find out more:

 

 

 

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Your voice counts!⤴

from @ Reach

What’s it like getting extra support in school? Does the support you get meet your needs? Are there ways you’d like support provided that might make school better for you? A group of MSPs on the Education and Skills committee of the Scottish Parliament want to know what you think.

Share your views however you like – by video, email or letter. They’ll listen or read what you have to say and consider it along with what other young people, parents, carers and organisations who support young people have said.

If you share your experiences, the Education and Skills Committee might talk about them at their meetings and put what you’ve said on the Scottish Parliament website. If you want to share your views but don’t want them to use your name or put what you’ve said online just let them know.

You have until 21 February to send something in. Here’s how you can get in touch:

By email es.submissions@parliament.scot

By post:
Education and Skills Committee
T3.40
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP

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Jordan’s story – autism, school, friends and other life lessons⤴

from @ 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.

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-11-24-19When 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.

You can join Jordan’s Facebook page here.

Or follow Jordan on twitter.

 

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