Through the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the profile of poverty and the implications for attainment and outcomes for children and young people has never been more to the forefront of discussion and policy.
As part of the Challenge, I have a role in looking at poverty and its resulting complexities from an academic viewpoint and in researching some recent articles.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Polmont Young Offenders Institute with a group of colleagues to hear and see at first- hand some of the initiatives to increase life chances and improve opportunities in this context. I left the experience with great admiration for the direction of travel not only to help prevent re- offending but more importantly, the clarity around understanding the stats and stories behind the young people being there in the first place.
These stats had a profound impact on my conscience and strengthened my resolve to share information about prevention rather than cure…..
A fundamental life experience touched almost all of the young people and that was an experience of bereavement, often a close family member. A high number of young folk had multiple losses, one as many as 17 in their life story. Another common feature, was school exclusion and interestingly, most did not dislike school when they were attending but did resort to ‘class clown’ behaviours. This clown image was evident in a striking piece of artwork on the wall of the performance arts studio in Polmont.
Speaking to some of the young people it was clear that common experiences and regret for poor choices was evident but in spite of these difficulties, there was hope for a better future and those who choose to gain skills and qualifications were hopeful these would help them once liberated. After the young people leave is a whole different blog post!
As a result of the visit, I developed this Sway presentation
I hope you find some of the content interesting and thought provoking and would ask you to consider these points.
- How often do you encounter the ‘class clown’ ?
- How often do you find the time and space to ask “Are you alright?”
- What support would make a difference?
- What options do youngsters at risk in your care have and how are these made known to them?
This Sway may be useful as part of a professional learning session in your school. If you want to take part in a secure, online discussion of the questions, we are talking about them on the Scottish Attainment Challenge community on Glow
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