This month Enquire had a big event in Cumbernauld where young people spoke about issues at school and the support that helps. There were four workshops in the afternoon which all involved young people.
In one workshop, young people in care spoke about stuff that makes school hard, like bullying, being labelled as a ‘troublemaker’ and having to change school when they move between foster care placements. One young person in S4 said that it could be hurtful when teachers don’t know that a pupil is in care: ‘they might say things like “did your mum and dad not teach you any manners!”. This hurts. I don’t think teachers should make personal comments about your family. They don’t know what might have happened to you in the past’. Speaking about what helps, one young person said that the support base at their school was helpful ‘because it was used as a ‘time out’ when I was feeling upset or angry’. For another young person, it had been helpful to meet up with their Education Liaison Teacher once a week ‘to get help with my anger management and some of my school subjects’. Foster carers also played a role: ‘ They encourage me to go to school and do my homework. They want me to be the best I can be’.
From Barnardos Rollercoaster Service in Dundee, young people talked about the support that pupils need when someone they love dies. They spoke very movingly about their best hopes for the future: “get people to understand what I’m going through”, “stop crying all the time”, “to sleep at night”, “to go a day without thinking about the person I lost”. They then set out their ideas for what helps, like ‘having someone to talk to who knows about grief and trauma'; ‘organised time off school when I am feeling depressed or really tired'; and ‘having a plan to have more time to do homework’. Watch this space for another blog entry in the near future about this.
In another workshop, Respect Me talked about the issue of bullying against people with support needs, and showed a film called Billy’s story. This film was made by young people from Our Lady & St Patrick’s High School. It won a prize in the 2010 Anti-Bullying Week competition. You can watch Billy’s story on youtube at this link.
Last but not least, a young deaf person called Glen was interviewed by Enquire about the challenges he faced in changing and leaving school. He also gave some top tips for teachers on how they can support deaf pupils, like making sure they understand how to communicate well with deaf people, going over things with deaf people again, and not putting pressure on them to fit in to class when they might find it easier to work on their own. If you’re a young deaf person, check out the NDCS website for advice and info (you can also create your own avatar, check out mine below!).
A big thank you to all the young people who took part in the event, you were complete stars.