On the Confident Transitions programme, we’re working with young people as they enter the senior phase of their secondary education. At this stage, in schools, there is an inevitable sense of urgency about young people securing the qualifications and accreditations that will enable them to make a successful transition to a positive destination.
Whilst this is completely understandable, this sense of urgency has the potential to further undermine the engagement and self-confidence of young people who are not thriving in the established system - those who are unclear about their options, painfully aware of the things they are ‘not good at’ and struggling to see the point of school.
Educators notice this too:
“Sometimes I think we are in danger of bombarding young people with options at this stage, and hoping they will find something of interest within that.”
“We’re offering high quality experiences for young people (connected to the school curriculum, employability and college) but we’re not doing enough to help some of them to explore the skills they already have or to really connect with their interests.”
Teachers recognise the value for young people in taking purposeful time to refocus, underpinned by a deeper understanding of themselves:
“The way you [Space Unlimited] do this is really important. It’s more dedicated, more long term, more individualised’
“it’s the missing piece of the jigsaw, because it’s creating space for young people to think about what they want and find a reason or motivation to engage with other experiences.”
“Confident Transitions is focused on self-assessment and ‘so-what’ planning – helping young people to find a destination that feels positive to them ... It strips young people back to basics if you like – and then helps them to identify for themselves the benefits of buying into education.”
You could very reasonably argue that this deeper kind of self-exploration should happen sooner, and there is certainly a case for that. But young people also tell us that, at 15, they are really just beginning to realise that ‘the future is quite near to me’. They are ready to do this work – and importantly also to take responsibility for the plans they create for their next steps:
“My plan shows me what I am going to do. It’s my plan.”
“I know what I need to do now.”
“I feel clearer about my next steps because I understand what I have to do now.”
“It’s got me thinking that there is more out there for me than I thought”
“I have more confidence. I can block out the negative people now.”
Educators are delighted in the changes they see as a result, and the potential for this to impact on young people’s attainment longer term:
“I have seen a massive change…they understand and can articulate themselves better. They are confident in their ability to talk about their skills. It is worth the time and effort”
“School feels more OK for them now – and they are clearer about their goals and how school can help with these”
“I honestly don’t think we could have asked for a more positive change. These are young people who like to disappear. This gave them the chance to do the opposite of that and to shine”
It is clear that there is place for the Confident Transitions approach to complement what can be offered to young people entering the senior phase in schools. And young people themselves say that we are offering this opportunity at the right time for them – they are ready to engage because the future suddenly feels very real and ‘just around the corner’.
We look forward to continuing to work with them – and with our partner schools in Glasgow and South Ayrshire over the next 12 months.