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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

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Youth work can help deliver excellence for every child

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Graeme Logan sets out his vision for youth work and schools

At Education Scotland we are supporting schools to design a curriculum that gives all young people the experiences and opportunities to achieve to the highest possible standards. This includes planning key interventions and support from a range of professionals including youth workers. For children living in areas of deprivation, this can often involve widening their experiences and achievements.

Increasingly, we are seeing youth workers work alongside teachers and others who support children and young people, and the sector has a key role to play in helping us to achieve our vision of excellence and equity for every child and young person.

Graeme Logan

Youth workers often connect with young people in a way that makes a tremendous difference to confidence and self-esteem as well as to knowledge and skills

Graeme Logan

Youth workers often connect with young people in a way that makes a tremendous difference to confidence and self-esteem as well as to knowledge and skills. I have been hugely impressed by work I have seen, some of it when I was a head teacher, where youth workers are extending the experiences, opportunities and achievements for young people and children as young as eight, helping them improve their motivation and engagement.

Curriculum for Excellence broadly describes the experiences and outcomes desired in a wide range of areas including literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. These three areas are the particular focus of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. In order to achieve curriculum levels, learning needs to take place in a variety of settings and children need to apply their learning in a variety of real-life and practical ways. The most outstanding youth workers will be able to articulate how their work with young people helps to contribute to young people’s attainment in these areas.

There is also an opportunity for youth workers in the new National Improvement Framework. ‘Raising attainment and achievement’ is one of the quality indicators that HM Inspectors will now be assessing in schools, and in very good and excellent examples I would expect the contribution of youth workers and other CLD professionals to feature strongly where young people’s achievements are outstanding.

Education Scotland is working with YouthLink Scotland to implement and monitor the National Youth Work Strategy, and to ensure that we reap the benefits for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, a working group has been set up to interface with both it and the Developing the Young Workforce policy areas. The working group is setting out to articulate a clear, collective message about the contribution that can be made by youth work, and to agree a programme of communications and capacity building. They also want to establish a strategic approach to knowledge brokering and networking.

A quote from Gabriela Mistral resonates deeply within the Scottish Attainment Challenge: “Mankind owes to children the best it has to give. Their life is fragile. If they are to have a tomorrow their needs must be met today. Many things can wait but not the children.”

Schools cannot deliver Curriculum for Excellence on their own. Each curriculum needs to give young people as many opportunities to succeed as possible, and youth workers, along with other partners, have a key role to play in achieving the break-through children need today.

Graeme Logan is Education Scotland's strategic director.



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Pam Shaw
over 7 years ago
I work for Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, a youth work charity, and we are pleased to hear that the Curriculum of Excellence is supporting different ways of supporting learning for young people.Recently we have been awarded funding from CashBack from Communities programme. Our three year project, "On Course with CashBack" will offer over 280 disengaged young people a chance to gain SQA qualifications in communication, numeracy and team working as part of our residential programme. Young people we have worked with in the past on similar projects are seeing fantastic results, particularly those who previously didn't perform well at school. The opportunity to learn in a different way, in our case on board a sailing boat, helps young people discover that they can achieve, thus boosting their confidence. Sometimes removing them from the classroom and the environment in which they have in the past have felt out of place is the impetus to get them motivated to take on further learning.Another bonus of our work is the relationship built between the youth worker and the young people. The youth worker has a chance to get to know the young people better, thus building a bond when the voyage is over. This shared experience helps the young person open up when they return home. Feedback from the youth workers following their voyage has indicated that the young people are more willing to take on new roles within school, such as mentoring or volunteering, and feel more confident to go on to work and further education.We are currently seeking to recruit young people (aged 16-19) from youth groups and schools throughout Scotland to take part in our "On Course with CashBack" project. For information about the work we visit our website at:
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