On this Episode of EduBlether we discuss the very large and complex issue of Nurture and Inclusion with James Kidd. James is passionate about Inclusion and Nurture, and his rich and varied experiences across different schools and local authorities make him a perfect person to have a discussion with about the vast themes explored in this episode.
I was lucky yesterday to meet up with an old friend at Newlands Junior College – a unique, vocational provision for 14-16 year olds, housed in a former factory in Newlands in the south side of Glasgow. It is an independent provision, funded, in the main by industrial entrepreneur, Jim McColl and exists to provide young people who have struggled to engage in the mainstream system with an opportunity to learn through an intensive support programme involving academic, vocational and personal development.
I’d known about the existence of Newlands for a while, and I was really pleased to find out about what was going on first hand. A few things struck me about Newlands. There was a very relaxed atmosphere in the building and a big emphasis on student responsibility for learning. The starting point for the timetable is staff availability. The subjects taught are English, mathematics, science and ICT. PSE runs through the curriculum and features strongly. The timetable shows when the relevant staff are available and students decide which subjects they attend. This allows them to focus on priorities as they arise (folio pieces, for example) and manage their own programmes. Each student also has a vocational placement and supplementary training or qualifications are provided in partnership with a range of businesses, training organisations or City of Glasgow FE college. It is an entirely unique arrangement in many ways, but is clearly responding to a significant need that the mainstream system cannot meet.
The relaxed atmosphere is balanced by an ethic of professionalism. Students wear uniform and staff dress smartly. Some teaching spaces are open plan. All the offices, including meeting rooms and the principal’s office have transparent walls so that all working processes are visible to students and visitors. Students can choose how they address staff, using first name terms or standard titles, which some still choose to use. De-institutionalising can be difficult for young people. Classroom walls are written on and used very effectively as whiteboard spaces – this too can challenge some. There is no behaviour policy – there is no need for one. A few agreed rules – no shouting; no sarcasm, no greetin’ !, no excuses – and a clear focus on relationships do a much, much better job. Personally, I’m more and more persuaded that there is never a need for a behaviour policy, but that’s for a different discussion.
There is no doubt that this is a very important, exciting and successful innovation. There are big questions though, around sustainability and replicability. Neither of these have a straightforward answer. Part of its uniqueness and success has to be down to the qualities and experiences of the staff who have been selected to teach there, and from what I saw yesterday, they are a uniquely impressive group. Also the unique nature of the circumstances – a focus on work and industry, funded by an industrialist, in a post-industrial city, obviously gives rise to certain opportunities specific to the location of the college. And the funding itself – this raises questions of both replicability and sustainability. I know that some significant work is going on in this regard to expand or extend the concept of Newlands, and I really hope that it meets with success. Many, many young people deserve a chance like this. This is GIRFEC in action, and although it’s very difficult to replicate, there is a lot that can be learned.
So who was my old friend? Well, this was a personal highlight for me. I met up again with a student friend from teacher-training days at Jordanhill, Graham Robertson. Graham is now head of guidance, careers and business links at Newlands Junior College and we haven’t seen each other since Jordanhill. A chance meeting at the SELMAS forum allowed us to get back in touch and it was great to hear that he’s still in education, and about how his career developed over the years. We were in an elective class together for PSE which was taught by the one and only John MacBeath. Things we both learned there have stayed with us over all those years, and influenced us both in our thinking about socialisation and relationships in education. How lucky we were to take that class -it was definitely the highlight of my postgraduate course. Looking back, though, I don’t think we realised at the time quite what a privilege it was. Great to see you Graham, thank you so much for my visit, and I’m hoping we can develop useful links for our students and yours, in times to come.
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.
PREVENT is embedded within the legislative safeguarding duties of all education authorities and schools. Professional update for educational staff is undertaken through the routine sessions delivered by education authorities and the SCIS ( Scottish Council for Independent Schools)
In Scotland, we have a distinctive approach to safeguarding in Scotland linking to Getting It Right for Every Child which promotes action to improve the wellbeing of every child and young person. Safeguarding is the golden thread that runs through the curriculum. The aim is to support the development of learner’s knowledge, skills and resilience to keep themselves safe and protect themselves and to develop an understanding of the world so that they can respond to a range of issues and potential risky situations arising throughout their lives. As such, it permeates many features of the education experience life – leadership, values, vision, the curriculum, teaching and learning, positive relationships, learner resilience, etc.
Education Scotland, working closely with the City of Glasgow Council is hosting a PREVENT conference on 24 February to be held in Lourdes Secondary School. Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s languages, will open the conference. The conference is targeted at strategic education leaders across the wider education community covering education authorities, colleges, independent schools and third sector organisations involved in supporting the PREVENT agenda, it will be led and facilitated by young people from the school. Keynote speakers will include colleagues from Education Scotland, Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the young people from Lourdes.
Following the strategic conference, in the summer term, a number of regional events will be held for practitioners focused on curriculum support to ensure teachers and other educational staff are supported to embed the PREVENT agenda into key curricular areas, including RME, social subjects and HWB. These regional events will show case best practice and have input from curricular leaders within Education Scotland.
Education Scotland recently published (September 2015) HGIOS4. Within the document a new quality indicator focused on Safeguarding has been developed. This QI outlines the clear expectations of all schools, colleges, early learning and childcare centres in protecting children and young people