The Scottish Parliament is debating the issue of how to raise attainment this afternoon (Tuesday 17th February).
Includem supports the Scottish Government’s focus on raising attainment and on improving the educational outcomes for young people.
Whilst any additional funding for this work is to be welcomed, we would argue that what happens out of school is every bit as important to a young person’s development as their time in the classroom.
One of our young people, Kenny, illustrates this point.
Kenny was 16 when he was referred to Includem. He was a cause for concern for his school on account of his poor attendance (lower than 50%), frequent exclusions and a recent charge of breach of the peace in the local community.
Kenny was defeatist and unengaged. He believed he was never going to succeed at school and he had challenges at home – he was often the sole carer for his mum who had mental health problems and he had a challenging relationship with his dad. Neither of his parents offered him any encouragement to attend school.
Includem worked with Kenny to build up his confidence and to get him to think about his goals and ambitions. He worked through our cognitive toolkit, “A Better Life” and thought through all his relationships – good and bad – and what they meant to him. Through this work we supported Kenny’s mum and dad to think of ways they could engage better with him and both parents agreed to take more responsibility for his actions at home.
His negative behaviours were challenged head-on by encouraging his parents to set down boundaries. As a result of this Kenny started to get into more of a routine including thinking about homework, going to bed at reasonable times and getting up in time for school each morning. Both Kenny and his parents used our 24/7 helpline to reinforce these boundaries and to seek help before his behaviour escalated.
As his attendance at school improved we started to work constructively with the school to encourage him to become more involved in his classes and to take part in lessons. He prepared an exam timetable with our workers as part of thinking through his future plans.
After 38 weeks Kenny exited our services and he is now reengaged with education with much improved attendance and reduced late coming. He sat every exam he was enrolled in and has now attended a college interview showing his willingness to continue to engage in education beyond school. He has not picked up any further charges in the community.