Letterbox Club: looked after? You could get a surprise parcel of cool books and games in the post :)

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  If you’re looked after (also called being in care), aged 7-13 years, and you live in Scotland, then there might be a fun package winging it’s way to you in the post soon Because the Letterbox Club has come to … Continue reading

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BeXcellent website made by and for young people: “Skills for being awesome”

Hip hip hooray the fab new website BeXcellent has been launched! It’s a great way to make sense of what Curriculum for Excellence is all about – helping you have excellent learning both in and out of school so you can have totally excellent lives.

The new website has been created by a team of young people from 8 to 17 years who all have an interest in design, IT, photography, film making and journalism. So what’s Curriculum for Excellence all about? Ellen, one of the young folk involved, explains:

“Even adults get nervous when they hear the words ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ in case you ask them to tell you what it means. Curriculum for Excellence is basically a different way of saying ‘Skills for being awesome’. It’s all about being a successful learner, effective contributor, a confident individual and a responsible citizen. Not exactly rocket science. It hasn’t actually changed what we’re taught. Simply, how we’re taught it.”

Another young team member called Dervla also had an interesting take on what the new curriculum is all about: “The project was created on the belief that everything worth knowing can’t always be taught. Children don’t just learn from reading books or watching low budget videos – they can learn from exploring or figuring things out for themselves.”


The website is an awesome achievement for the youth team, who have so far spent over 4 months pulling it all together. They really took charge of everything, even the budget -  “We were trusted with a budget of £10,000″, Ellen explains. “A bit more than the average pocket money. Already on our way to becoming responsible citizens.”

Dervla told Enquire all about what was involved in creating the website and what’s on it: “Three groups were drawn up: a writing group, a film group and a graphics group…These groups with the help of various mentors and leaders were able to create something that could aid children in discovering what exactly they are doing in school and where to go once they are finished. The website also helps children talk about their situation and allows them to share their opinions with others their age. BeXcellent allows children and teenagers to express themselves by way of reviewing shows or books or even talking about their fears about a transition in their life.”

You can check out the new BeXcellent website here.

 

 

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Better eating, better learning: Pupils’ views on school food

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Eating well during the school day can really help you to do your best at school. But when chips and chocolate are so easy to get hold of, what’s the best way of supporting pupils to choose healthy foods at … Continue reading

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New SYP campaign for young carers: Care. Fair. Share.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 10 young people are involved in helping to care for someone at home.
  • 13,000  young carers in the UK care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Young adult carers aged 16 to 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training.

In recent years Enquire have been raising awareness about some of the challenges that young carers face trying to keep up with their learning – young carers in the Highlands created an awesome drama for us which was shown at our conference a few years ago, and we’ve also covered the issues on our blog a few times, like in this interview we did with West Lothian young carers. We also recently launched our guide What happens when you can’t go to school?, which includes info on support for young carers who are having to miss school because they are too busy caring for their loved one. 

So we are delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament have chosen to highlight education issues for young carers this year in their Care. Fair. Share. campaign. They’ve made an ace film about the campaign which is well worth a watch.

The film looks at how young carers who are studying often find it hard to juggle their caring role with their studies. This doesn’t just happen at school, but at college and university too: the National Union of Students reckons that 56% of students with a caring role seriously consider leaving their course because they are finding it too hard to keep up with studies.

The film also looks at issues that young carers have with lack of money. Young carers have told Enquire that money issues can make it hard to take part in school trips and buy school uniform and books. The SYP campaigners are also saying that lack of money can make it hard to travel in between school and home so you can fulfil your caring role, and that more funding should be available to young carers to make it easier for them to continue with studies at college and university.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is “a little bit about politics, and a lot about you”. To find out more and how you can support the campaign visit the Care. Fair. Share website.

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Beat Young Ambassador on eating disorders and support that helps

“An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that changes people’s relationship with food in a negative way”, writes Kathryn, Young Ambassador for Beat, the UK’s leading eating disorders charity.

“It has a negative impact on both their mental and physical health.  Over 1.1 million people are directly affected by eating disorders in the UK and girls between the ages of 15-24 are most at risk.

“Someone suffering from an eating disorder may be feeling very isolated, lonely and vulnerable.  The sufferer may be withdrawn, scared, anxious and tired.  They often feel like they are alone and have no friends or anyone to talk to.

“School can be difficult for young people at the best of times, let alone for someone who is suffering from an eating disorder.  Friendships are often difficult when you are suffering from an eating disorder as you may feel left out, not good enough, like you don’t fit in and that people are talking about you behind your back.  Pressures of doing well at school can get overwhelming as you are unable to concentrate and preform your best in class.  Tiredness may prevent you from doing your homework, revising and doing well in tests.  Partaking in activities such as P.E at school comes with its challenges for someone suffering with an eating disorder too.  It may be changing in front of peers that you are uncomfortable with or you may not be able to take part at all because of a doctor’s orders.  This may bring about awkward questions, feeling jealous of the people doing P.E, feeling left out or not getting picked, as you don’t have the energy to put the effort in.

“Schools can do lots to help eating disorder sufferers, but before they can do this they must be informed of the situation.  Your pastoral care teacher is probably the best person to go to first, don’t worry they are likely to have come across a similar situation before. Tell them what’s going on, how you are felling and what help you are receiving at school.  They can then support you in the best way they possibly can.  Having somewhere else to go during P.E, sending a note round your teachers telling them you are not feeling great at the moment, delaying tests if you aren’t up for them, asking for somewhere to eat your lunch that’s not the busy canteen, and for someone to come in and support you so you are not alone, even just having someone you can talk to. These are all simple things that the school can do to help and they can make a big difference.

“There are lots of places for young people experiencing an eating disorder to get help.  Talking to a parent, teacher or friend is a good place to start. Go and talk to your local G.P, they can refer you to your local CAMHS team where there will be professional psychologists, psychiatrists, dieticians and therapist who are trained to help people suffering from eating disorders.

“You can also find a lot of information, resources and support on the Beat website, or by phoning the Youthline on 0845 634 7650. Parents, teachers or any concerned adults over the age of 25 should call the Helpline for adults on 0845 634 1414.

“I have a personal experience of an eating disorder myself along with being bullied and having a hard time at school. Now, as a Beat Young Ambassador, my advice to anyone with an eating disorder who is having a hard time is the very thing I didn’t do. Tell someone! If no one knows they can’t help. As the old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” and it is so true! Remember you are not alone. There are so many other young people out there in the same situation as you and lots of people around you that can help.  Recovery is possible and things do get better.”

 

 

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The listening bus and how to support deaf young people – Kieran has his say

Kieran is an amazing young guy who spent last summer touring around schools in Scotland on the NDCS Listening Bus. This is a bus that tours all over the UK raising deaf awareness among teachers and pupils, “dispelling myths like that deaf people can’t drive” and showing off the latest gadgets that can help deaf children – stuff like vibrating alarm clocks, flashing doorbells and amplified phones, or Bluetooth neckloops so you can listen to music on your ipod….

 

For young people who are deaf, Kieran feels that one of the biggest issues is socialising: ‘being able to interact with all the other young people, because they might not understand about deaf awareness – like that many deaf people might need to read your lips.’

Being the only hearing impaired pupil at your school can sometimes lead to problems with bullying, Kieran said. “Sadly you might also get picked on at school for being different. So children might not really interact with that one hearing impaired child. It could be quite isolating for them.”

With teachers, Kieran felt there were sometimes issues when the teacher “doesn’t have deaf awareness and doesn’t know how to use the technology” in classrooms that can help deaf children hear, and that this could be particularly tough in secondary schools where you don’t just have one teacher, but loads of teachers with different levels of understanding about how to support deaf pupils: “that deaf child would have to cope with all those different classes, having adjustments made in each class. They might not be able to hear well in each specific class”.

The good news is that there is a lot schools can do to support deaf pupils. Kieran felt that Personal Support Assistants could play a vital role in helping make sure deaf children can participate fully in class. These assistants could also help with reading and speaking: “if a deaf child’s speech isn’t on the same level as a hearing child, they could be taken out of the class and work one to one with the assistant to help with this”. Also, a Teacher for the Deaf was another key person who could make things easier by “coming into school, talking through any issues or problems and doing a run check on equipment”.

There is a lot other pupils can do to make things easier too – one top tip Kieran gave was “don’t turn around while speaking so your deaf friend can’t lip read”. Another tip was, if you’re speaking in the playground or a noisy classroom make sure you go right up to the deaf young person as it’s hard to hear above all the background noise.

A big thank you to Kieran for sharing his views with Enquire, we quite agree with you that “deaf children should be included in all activities at school”.

Wishing all you blog readers a very merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

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Young person has a say: “Eczema really affects me at school because I find myself distracted”

Did you know? There are about 15,500 children in Scotland with severe eczema, a skin condition which can make your skin feel itchy and sore. This week on the Enquire blog, a young person with eczema tells their story and has a say on how schools could support young people facing this problem.

Want to hear other children and young people’s views? Check out this super new book full of ace drawings and quotes by Eczema Outreach Scotland, who you can contact for advice and support.

You can download this book here.

“Living with eczema has always been hard and its not a thing that can be ignored because if left untreated it can spread all over your body and can be very painful and itchy. I have only ever known a life living with eczema. I was born with eczema on my necks my arms and at the back of my legs the eczema around my neck was the worst and it made it very painful for me to move my neck but eventually overtime this went away. I have never experienced a time when i didn’t have to put on my creams religiously. The tricky thing about eczema is that it’s not like having a cough where you can just get cough syrup and you’ll be fine in a couple of days, no. Eczema is very different for each individual some people have it more severe than others and others have it in worse places and this is why it is difficult for doctors to prescribe a certain cream or moisturiser because they all have different results on people.

“Eczema really affects me at school because I find myself distracted from my work because of the irritation of it and often find myself scratching which makes it worse. At my school there is not really much support because not many people are even aware of eczema and even if they do know about it they are naive of the severity of it, sometimes people even mistake eczema for a rash or just a skin irritation. I think in schools people should be more educated about things like eczema because its so common and most people have many misconceptions about it such as that ‘Eczema can be passed on just by being near someone who has got it’ and it is these sorts of things that make life difficult when you’ve got eczema. I was lucky enough to have friends that understood it and who knew that it was a skin condition and it was treatable. However other people may not be so lucky and find that people avoid them or feel uncomfortable around you maybe fearing that you might spread it on to them. This is the problem with a lot of conditions people are afraid of what they do not understand if they were educated about it they will find though its a serious skin condition it can be managed with the right support and discipline.”

 

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Cyberbullying – let’s beat it!

IT helps us make friends and get in touch with other folk in lots of ways. Things like facebook, youtube and instant messaging have given us a new space to hang out in. But, as respectme tell us in their new leaflet, like the other places we go, there are risks to using IT – and one of these is bullying.

Cyberbullying can make you feel left out and hurt.  People using mobile phones, emails, instant messaging, online gaming, and social networking can use them to:

  • Send hurtful text messages
  • Call people names on social networking pages
  • Pick on others online because of who they are, or because someone thinks they’re ‘different’.

In a Beat Bullying survey of about 2,500 young people, 50% said they’d been cyberbullied; 29% told no-one; 73% said they knew who was sending them bullying messages and 11% admitted to cyberbully behaviour.

You can find out more about cyber-bullying on respectme’s website.

If you’re being bullied, it can be hard to tell someone. But it really helps to talk to someone you trust.

Not sure who to talk to? Childline are there for you! Call them on 0800 1111 or have an online chat 1-to-1 with a counsellor.

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Anti bullying week – Enquire’s animation on racist bullying

 

 

 

As national anti-bullying week draws to a close, Enquire have added to our youtube channel our awesome animation film Ben and Sara’s story. This animation was made for Enquire by ethnic minority children supported by Shakti Women’s Aid. Asked what issues ethnic minority children might have at school, they chose to focus on the problem of racist bullying and the support that can help children facing it. Hats off to the children at Shakti, who created the story, used their own artwork, did the voice overs and filmed the animation themselves!

As Scotland’s antibullying service respectme remind us, every child has the right not to be bullied – and that includes you!

respectme have got some useful info on their website for you, including busting some myths about bullying and giving advice about what you can do if you are being bullied. Check out the respectme website here.

Want to talk to someone about how you are affected by bullying? Remember that childline are there for you. Call childline on 0800 1111 or talk to a childline counsellor online.

 

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Ellie’s blue ribbon campaign reaches greater heights in time for dyslexia week

Remember our blog about the blue ribbon campaign being led by Edinburgh teenager Ellie? Well, Ellie has now sent out more than 20,000 blue ribbons to raise awareness about dyslexia! She’s even got support from Prince Harry  and grand prix legend Jackie Stewart.

Congratulations Ellie. What better way to celebrate Dyslexia week going on this week :)

 

You can show your support for the campaign by adding the fabulously named blue ‘twibbon’ to your twitter or facebook page – get your twibbon here.

There’s also a Blue Ribbon Competition – Send in a photo or drawing of you or someone else wearing your blue ribbon in an unusual place. Email them to competition@dyslexiascotland.org.uk by 22 November and you could win a fab prize.

Finding it hard to read or write? You’re not alone. Remember that Enquire are here for you if you want advice about your rights to get extra support with your learning. You, your parents or carers can get in touch on 0845 123 2303 or by email.

For advice on dyslexia you can also call Dyslexia Scotland’s helpline on 0844 800 8484 between 10am and 1pm or 2pm and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

 

 

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