Young people and educators tell us they like the connectedness and clarity of the road map for the Confident Transitions programme:
“It’s just been really good. It has an order. I feel like I understood it all and I get lost quite easily.”
“It’s about the past and it’s thinking about the future. It ties up. The whole thing.”
“Liked the structure. The young people (and we) could see where the programme was headed”
Young people tell us that relational structure of the Confident Transitions approach – moving, as it does, from individual coaching to work in trios with people they know and then to work in a larger group with people they don’t know – enables them to build trust and confidence to participate at every stage. Splitting the programme into distinct stages also engenders a sense of achievement and completion at each significant milestone:
“I feel like this has got me somewhere. I feel a bit changed. Like I have finished a bit of something”
“I’ve completed this – made a step forward, and I’m moving on to the next step."
Interestingly, young people have also noticed how the questions we ask create a different, less tangible, structure to the experience. Early in the process, we work with young people individually, and we take care to ask questions with very straightforward responses. This helps to build young people’s confidence in the dialogue.
“It feels good to be asked questions I can answer”
Later, as they work in community-based groups, young people are prepared to talk together with some confidence about the skills and strengths they have, and those they want to develop. As relationships are formed across the group, young people support one another to explore more complex questions – about the learning experiences that they think will be most useful to them, and how they can shape these to best meet their needs.
Over time, young people recognise that the value of the programme lies not just in the learning experiences they choose, but also in exploring different perspectives before deciding on, preparing for and then reflecting on each new experience.
“I can voice my opinions more often than I used to”
“I can speak to people better – more than I used to. I used to curl up in a ball and be heavy shy – it’s not like that now”
“There were people in the group I didn’t know and it was hard to talk but I got used to it”
“I have learned I can do things that I didn’t think I could”
Teacher feedback reinforces the importance of the careful pace of the programme:
“The approach is really good at helping them to think for themselves”
“School is a bubble. A lot of these young people don’t like it, but they get used to it, and they have real fear and anxieties about new experiences. The gradual way that you are introducing them to new situations and experiences outside of school is really beneficial.”
People often describe Space Unlimited’s work as ‘non-directive’ and ‘youth led’. What young people notice is that it is, in fact, the careful scaffolding and pace of early conversations with young people and the attention that we pay to relationships and group ‘conditions’ at every stage of the programme that enables young people – particularly those who don’t see themselves as natural leaders – first to engage and later to become much more active participants in their own learning.