Month: March 2015

Changing Schools Together Young People As A Source Of Energy For Change In Education

Friday, March 27, 2015 by richard

On 4th March 2015 we hosted an event to share and learn from our recent Changing Schools Together programme, which ran for two and a half years from 2012 to 2014.

We wanted to bring together young people and teachers from the programme and give them an opportunity to share a rich picture of their experience together with a range of stakeholders who had not been directly involved. Our aim was to support an open dialogue about the learning and implications of the work for people, practice and policy.

It was a lively morning and the big talking points included:

Mutual respect – the young people felt very strongly about why this is important, what it looks like and how it increases confidence. They said that it’s clear people find it easier and safer to talk when mutual respect is explicit.

Keeping momentum going – not exactly a surprise topic and it provoked an interesting discussion about where does the energy come from, the model or process or from the young people involved?  How does the school create space for dialogue? The importance of young people’s natural energy seems like an important asset – in school and beyond!

Embedding change and leaving a legacy – teachers and students wanted to emphasise the importance of the perception of any group of people trying to lead change.  It must be seen to be about real change for students and staff to take it seriously.  Thinking in advance about how to sustain the group as people leave and join (the group and the school!) also helps.

Personal impact – teachers and students talked about increased confidence and skills (for now and later life) and also a sense of being part of the school and feeling listened to.  Relationships between teachers and young people felt less scary with more trust.

We would like to thank everyone involved again for giving up their time and energy to take part.

You might like to read this blog from Fiona Munro at The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) who was there and has reflected on what she heard and the insights it prompted.

Exerpt From The Centre For Youth And Criminal Justice Website

Friday, March 20, 2015 by richard

Young people explore youth in justice

A report that aims to understand how young people could become active participants in shaping improvements to youth justice policy, practice and research has been published by Scotland’s national centre for youth justice.

The Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) commissioned social enterprise and charity Space Unlimited to work with a diverse range of young people, engaging them in discussing their experiences, ideas for change based on those experiences, and their thoughts on the shape of an ongoing role for young people like themselves.

The results were then evaluated in the report, entitled ‘Youth in justice: Young people explore what their role in improving youth justice should be’.

Claire Lightowler, Director of CYCJ, said: “At the Centre, a crucial part of our remit is to involve young people in improving youth justice services and supports. We were uncertain of the best way to do this – or if young people would even be interested in being involved. Space Unlimited have done an excellent job of working with these young people, and we have enjoyed being part of this innovative project as it has progressed.

“We were extremely inspired by the young people we met, and their commitment and passion to helping improve things for others. Those involved in this project have often not had the best experience of youth justice services so it’s been humbling to see how much they want to change things for the next generation. We hope that everyone reading the report will feel similarly inspired to bring about change.”

The report focuses on work undertaken with three separate groups of young people, through Action for Children (Moving on Scotland), the West Dunbartonshire Throughcare  service and Aberlour Youth Point in Glasgow, between April and November 2014.

Issues highlighted include frustration at a lack of consistency in service/interactions: “They make you go and meet with someone else who doesn’t know you and who…doesn’t seem that interested because they won’t be working you again anyway” and at feeling judged: “The three of them (on the panel) just sat there judging me…talking about what would happen to me as if I wasn’t even there”.

In the appendix, ‘Stories of change’ show how the project has influenced young people and built their confidence. ‘Brogan’ talks about how her involvement gave her the courage to ask questions of the Children’s Panel, while Shaun Murray, a practitioner with Moving on Scotland, describes how he uses his experiences to help young people achieve their goals – “I’m there to ask the right questions and make the right prompts, helping them to do things for themselves”.

There are also contributions from professionals that work with the young people. Tom Philliben, Senior Operational Manager with the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), praises the work for proving that “young people want to be engaged in developing improvements…they want it to be real and making a difference, not just ‘lip service’”, whilst Police Scotland’s Superintendent Lesley Clark explains why she “found the experience really worthwhile…the formula for this work is innovative and should be commended and developed”.

This report follows on from the ‘Living it: Children, young people and justice’ event, which brought together young people and politicians at the Scottish Parliament, which was jointly organised by CYCJ.

Report author Owen Cook, who is Joint Managing Partner of Space Unlimited, said: “This project pushed Space Unlimited into new territory. As well as everyone we worked with to produce this report, we would like to sincerely thank CYCJ. The Centre’s insights and connections have enabled this project to reach further and deeper than we thought possible, while providing a genuine opportunity for the young people involved to effect change that is meaningful to them.”

Read the full report here.