Tag Archives: Your rights

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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Seems like everybody’s talking about mental health⤴

from @ 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:

  1. To review the mental health support that pupils get in schools.
  2. To look into counselling in schools and other places for young people.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
We’d love to hear your views. 

The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) have been campaigning about many of the issues talked about it in the strategy for over a year with theiSpeak 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.

 

 

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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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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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Over 100 pupils with learning disabilities have a say about being included at school⤴

from @ Reach

Pupils with learning disabilities in Scotland have had their say about what school is like for them and whether they feel included. 116 young people with learning disabilities shared their experiences of school as a part of a campaign called Included in the Main?! run by Enable Scotland.

Here are some of the things they found out from the pupils that took part in the survey:

  • 60% of the pupils said they feel lonely at school
  • only half of those asked feel like they are achieving their full potential at school
  • 23% don’t get to go on school trips
  • more than half said they felt like they weren’t getting the right support at school.

Enable Scotland also asked teachers and families what they thought and, after looking at all the results, have come up with 22 steps they think will make things better at school for young people with learning disabilities. These steps include stuff like:

  • making sure teachers get the right training so they can get better at supporting pupils with disabilities and their families,
  • making sure schools teach all pupils about learning difficulties
  • helping schools get even better at identifying support needs early.

You can check out some of the stories young people have shared with Enable Scotland here.  enable-case-studies

If you feel lonely at school or don’t feel like you get the right support we’ve lots of advice to help you here or you can call our helpline on 0345 123 2303.

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2017 – a big year for young people’s rights⤴

from @ 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.

 

 

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