Some of you will be familiar with my work around the National Indicator on the Positive and Sustained Destinations of School Leavers in Scotland. I’ve recently produced some material for the Employability In Scotland website which includes some detail on Young People and Transitions to Employment.
I have established a national Community of Practice for Partnership Information, which you can read about below. Please keep checking this website for updates over the coming weeks.
The Scottish Government continues to accord high priority to the development of data-driven and intelligence-led approaches to supporting all young people into a positive destination. Although separate and discrete elements, data management within the context of 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices, More Chances are both integral components of the wider infrastructure and are complimentary to each other. As such the harmonious elements are now referred to as Partnership Information.
There are three levels of data; that which informs individual support and intervention for young people, information analysis for local planning of provision and service delivery and national, aggregated data which informs statistical analysis.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) as our national skills body, is building a 16+ Learning Choices Data Hub on behalf of The Scottish Government, which will articulate a range of data on young people, their career aspirations and their current learning pathway. This will be used to support them into an initial, positive, post-16 destination and into subsequent destinations during the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence (broadly 15 -18). The 16+LC Data Hub will allow us to monitor and track the journey that all eligible learners will make.
It is an ambitious project, one of the largest in the world, which will see information sharing between SDS, local authorities, schools, colleges and various other organisations which work with young people.
The CoPPI facilitates opportunities to share approaches, experience, and data analysis, as well as, concrete possibilities for jointly undertaking programs and projects for capacity building and continuous improvement.. This includes practitioners from schools, Skills Development Scotland and local authorities, though anyone is welcome to join. The CoPPI is a platform where data on 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices More Chances can be jointly discussed within the framework of a national approach and builds upon exisitng networks which are already in place.
The aim of the CoPPI is to develop joined up approaches to Partnership Information which supports all young people into a positive destination upon leaving school and to sustain employment and lifelong learning. It includes access to resource materials and presentations from a series of local events which will be held across Scotland in March, April and May 2011.
Read more about Young People and Transitions to Employment or alternatively, wait for the new revised Young People 16-24 section which will shortly appear on the Scottish Government website. I’ll post a link on Twitter once it has officially been published.
Young people are important to us. Forget the moral and ethical reasons; that’s a whole other article in itself. They are important to our communities and to our social infrastructure, to family and most importantly to our economy. There is evidence that those young people living in socially deprived areas do not have equal, positive outcomes in life. Lifestyles usually vary quite radically from community to community and even more so from country to country, where the parameters of acceptable behaviour can be different, as can the consequences.
Many societies consider smoking, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking and early patterns of sexual behaviours as a catalyst for serious problems which can lead to youth offending and a lack of reasonable behaviour. Anti-social behaviour, both within and out with schools is now common place, the barrier between the two less obvious as external issues become apparent within the school environment; bullying, substance misuse, truancy, low attainment, lack of achievement and devaluing of learning and teaching.
These behaviours, more so in adolescent and adult years, are costly to society. These fiscal costs are demonstrated in our health care, justice and law enforcement services and there is growing pressure to reform education; culture, structure and process as a means of dealing with these issues.
Research indicates that early intervention to reduce these risk factors may prevent a whole range of problems. For some societies, these are new problems and they may require new approaches to prevent them. Fortunately, evidence suggests that interventions, particularly interventions that occur when children are young, that address risk factors for these behaviors can reduce the chances that children will develop these serious problems as they reach adolescence. Indeed, in Scotland we know that investing in the Early Years will increase the chances that a young person will leave school and enter a positive and sustained destination; that is employment, higher or further education or training.
Schools have a role to play here, in working across a multi-agency partnership to deliver joined up services which support young people. Getting It Right For Every Child and Every Child Matters are classic examples. Here, I have provided a summary of approaches to encourage positive behavior. The list is not exhaustive and each component deserves an article in its own right.
Start prevention early – prevention efforts should start with pre-natal care and continue throughout the school years (broadly 3 – 18). In Scotland, this starts during pregnancy and continues through NHS and social services, the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase Curriculum.
Positive consequences matter – this can increase desirable behaviors. Using restorative practices (or restorative justice) can place the ‘offender’ into the shoes of the ‘victim’ and there is evidence that this works. Likewise, consequences can come in many forms: positive attention, praise, privileges, access to desirable activities, prizes and money all act as positive consequences.
Effective negative consequences matter – clear and immediate sanctions can reduce problem behaviors; Teachers should communicate classroom rules clearly so children understand which behaviors will result in negative consequences. Examples include short, private reprimands that label the problem behavior clearly; brief loss of privileges; or brief isolation from an activity the child enjoys. Avoid negative consequences that have the potential to harm the child either physically or psychologically (e.g. insulting children publicly).
Build skills through practice – create opportunities for children and young people to observe and practice interpersonal as well as academic skills. Teachers and parents should act in ways that show children how to handle problems well. Children imitate the behavior of those who are important to them. Teach young children interpersonal skills for handling conflict non-violently and co-operating with others. Children can also benefit from learning cognitive skills for recognizing problem situations, stopping to think rather than responding impulsively, generating ways of solving problems, and evaluating the consequences of different solutions.
Monitor a child’s behavior – know where children and young people are, what they are doing and with whom, and provide appropriate supervision. Encourage parents and carers to ask where their children are, what they are doing and with whom using a non-interrogatory manner. These questions are especially important during the teenage years, when youth become more independent and spend more time away from home. Avoid creating unsupervised groups of children with behavior problems. Children may learn problem behavior from each other and encourage each other to behave inappropriately. When these groups exist, monitor them closely to prevent youths from encouraging problem behavior in their peers.
Limit opportunities for misbehavior – reduce access to situations in which problem behavior is likely to occur. Create clear rules in schools and laws in communities that prohibit supplying or selling tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs or weapons to children and adolescents. Create clear school policies that state that the school does not permit students to use illegal substances or to engage in aggressive behavior.
Reduce environmental stressors – reduce exposure to negative influences which can act as a trigger for poor behavior. Provide children with opportunities and pro-social skills that allow them some control over their environment, especially during particularly stressful periods in their lives. Examples include opportunities to master new skills (e.g. in sports or the arts), to work with others on creative projects, and academic situations in which they can make choices for themselves.
Limit biological risks – encourage positive behavior and discourage substance misuse through consequence of action. Provide safe environments for children to play and study in. Minimize exposure to harmful substances and other biological risk factors.
Discourage aggression – reducing aggressive behavior can prevent many problems later on.
Create appropriate norms – establishing the normal pattern of behavior through example is essential, this could include strategies for dealing with certain situations. Identify children who have problems with aggressive behavior and make specific plans to reduce their aggression. Look for children who harm others by fighting, hitting, bullying, calling names or excluding peers.
Needless to say, using a single approach is not likely to work. Most of these principles are probably being used in schools already, but where there are particular issues with poor behavior, that acts as an indicator that one of these elements is either missing or needs developing. A number of approaches are useful for reducing aggressive behavior and preventing later problems with delinquency, substance use and risky sexual activity. Many of these involve school programmes and teacher training as important components. Many also involve parents and community efforts to reduce youth problems and increase children’s involvement in positive activities that will improve their skills and competencies. Certainly, other professional services are required to tackle disaffection and related behaviors.
In February and March of 2010, Learning and Teaching Scotland hosted a series of conferences with the Scottish Government to support the implementation of 16+ Learning Choices for every young person in the Senior Phase curriculum. Conferences were held in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow and attracted over 700 delegates from local authorities, schools, colleges, third sector organisations, voluntary organisations, and other organisations from across Scotland.
As a former practitioner in a secondary school, I presented at one of these conferences and I have attached my presentation for you. These are my own slides and they have no Government or School branding so feel free to use as you wish.
You can read more about the events by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/46a7j7b
On October 11th, I wrote an article on Service Synergy – a series of articles on public service integration. This is Part 2, which I’ll call ‘Living Within Our Means’. Although timely with the recent announcement around the comprehensive spending review, there are two other factors which led to my decision to write this article today. These views are my own (see the boring disclaimer on my blog).
I had the pleasure yesterday, to participate in a webinar with colleagues from Argentina. The focus was on building a sound education for every child and young person. This, we all agreed, had to start in the early years and build momentum throughout the learner’s journey. Although I spoke (largely) about Curriculum for Excellence, there was an underlying theme throughout the session, the assurance that we deliver a basic education, a minimum standard before we think about added value. Indeed from my experience, ensuring a consistent education for all those children and young people for whom one is responsible is by no means an easy task. The approach is easy, the outcome can differ radically.
This brings me to my second reason for writing today. Having been plugged into the conversation around a minimum acceptable standard (worthy of an article in its own right), I had a brief but insightful conversation last night on Twitter with Karen (from Dundee) which made me realise that it is extremely difficult to provide a consistent, basic or otherwise, education when there are external factors influencing young people. These drivers, home circumstances, things that happen within the community and the proverbial baggage which is brought into schools is immense.
Reflect for one moment on the last time that you arrived into work having had a bad night’s sleep or had a personal issue which pre-occupied you.
No one is immune, as adults we learn (usually) to control this, but for someone who has not yet developed an emotional intelligence this can have a strong and adverse impact on their ability to integrate with their peers and learn as effectively as they could do. My point is this; if we are to drive self-esteem, self-belief and self-determination in our children and young people, developing a so called ‘responsible confidence’, education cannot go it alone. Other services, The Police, Health, Youth Work, Social Services, Housing, Community Learning and Development all have a role to play. The difficulty lies in our ability to control and coordinate the resources effectively.
With pressing budget cuts across all public services, how can we live within our means but still get value for money?
If I had the answer to that question, I’d be capitalising on my own creativity and I’d be far wealthier than I am. I do believe that the answer sits within Curriculum for Excellence and the broader policies that sit alongside. Getting It Right For Every Child, More Choices More Chances and such like are all catalysts for change. Without addressing the cultural, structural and process issues we will not get value for money.
There must be a role model for sustainability offering extended and integrated services for children, young people and adults.
Personally, I would like to see more funding devolved around schools, where they can act as a hub for the community as a unit supporting lifelong learning. Imagine a world where every school had it’s own Social Worker, Police Officer, Psychologist and Health Care Professional acting on behalf of the children and young people and the wider the community for which it serves. This integrated approach would allow firm and more substantive relationships with families, the rapport conducive to monitoring welfare and outcomes for each individual.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t live in cloud cuckoo land. This comes with a cost attached and it certainly isn’t living within our means. Current governance within local authorities and other public bodies is too complex and is in need of an urgent review. There is so much red tape surrounding various portfolios that I sometime want to climb onto a pedestal and shout ‘let’s just get on with it!’ And of course, there IS the budget thing.
That doesn’t mean however, that we sit back and do nothing. I’m going to explore this concept in more detail through the next three articles that I write; Enabling and Empowering People, Delivering Outcomes and Portfolio Parity.
I know that this is an issue which produces strong emotion and where people often have robust and opposing views. If you feel strongly about the approach that we take to integrated services, I’d urge you to comment on this post and share this article amongst your networks. From within our group of expertise and experience, I expect a solution can be found. Not an ideal, but more likely a compromise.
I decided to write this article for a number of reasons. Firstly, and probably the most obvious, I wanted to challenge tradition and stimulate discussion around what seems be an ever increasing topic of conversation, not just in Scotland but across the international scene also.
I’ve already talked about the strategic drivers and desired outcomes of a 21st Century School in Part 1. I’d like to take this further and describe some of the more practical aspects of this vision, hopefully describing what such a school would look like. Most likely, there will be a Part 3 to this story, if not a 4 and a 5.
Society will always undergo significant change. Culture is the first brick in the proverbial foundation of transformational change. The structure and process which delivers services to children young people can only be developed and integrated once ethos and cultural progress has advanced to a stage where leadership and management is capable of driving forward innovation and creativity.
It is the way of all things to evolve; but what will a 21st Century school look like? How is it different to the traditional learning establishments of the late 20th Century? How will schools need to shift the focus of their core business; accommodating and progressing young people, growing up in a world where information and knowledge is a powerful commodity? Does it mean the adaptation of traditional values and beliefs, practice and pedagogy? Or does it mean something else entirely? How can we deliver our own ambition to vulnerable young people?
Examine the legacy of the traditional school. Look closely at the culture, structure and processes aligned within a traditional establishment, certain values come to mind; bureaucratic design, autocratic leadership, centralised control, compliance, conformity and compartmentalisation. Whilst this legacy may present a narrow perspective; indeed some schools broke from tradition and embraced modern principles, on the whole, we would all recognise even the smallest element based on experience.
Perhaps, through the nature of our experience, we know that this type of school is not the best place to work, let alone develop and teach our young people how to become confident individuals, responsible citizens, successful learners and effective contributors.
What type of school would deliver opportunity and progression? A bureaucratic, hierarchal design, focussed on senior management would be better served up as a slice of team pie, with senior leadership at the heart of the organisation. Integration of distributed or transformation leadership would generate diversity and initiative and deliver autonomy with accountability. This is a much better work place; where teachers are encouraged to take risks and learn from mistakes and set-backs. A place where young people can learn who they are and what their potential, within the four capacities, actually aspires to; a responsible confidence which reflects self-belief, self-esteem and self-determination.
Let us take a paradigmatic approach to principle, practice and outcome.
Whilst there is a great deal of effort modernising a forward thinking establishment, one of the key reasons why schools struggle to make transformational change is because there is confusion about the purpose of change and the impact that this has on the methodology of change. We are not just producing systematic change; reforming school leadership, introducing new technology or changing the curriculum. These are simply elements which affect a system-wide transformational change. We are not aiming to tweak or amend the status quo in order to effect continuous improvement and align policy, but instead we have an opportunity to redesign the culture, structure and processes which deliver teaching and learning to all our young people. I’ll talk a bit more about this in Part 3.
There is not a one-size-fits-all model which will suit every unique establishment and as such each school will need to recognise that societal transformational change is occurring, recognise that current design is incompatible with the 21st Century and recognise the paradigmatic outcomes as described within the table below. Advocates for individualised learning believe that there will be a dramatic decrease in the numbers of young people who would traditionally be left behind. We need to empower all young people, providing more choices and more chances, where individual interests, abilities, skills, achievements and progress are at the core of all we do.
The outcome is not to measure against the four capacities. Why would we want to measure a young person’s level of contribution or confidence? This goes against the very nature of personalisation; encouraging every young person to be the best that they can. Measurement against the four capacities is not needed; instead, measure how the young person proceeds on the journey to excellence within the context of the four capacities. This is fundamentally different and it is this pedagogy that will deliver the vision and practice of a 21st Century School.
The learner’s journey is now the core business of every school.
Below, the table illustrates the paradigmatic outcomes. Reflect on these and identify areas which have been adopted and areas which still require attention to detail within your own school or authority.
|The 20th Century School||The 21st Century School|
|Standardised, one-size-fits-all, teaching||Customised, tailored and individual teaching|
|Autocratic school environment||Democratic school environment|
|Young people learn by being told||Young people learn by doing|
|Linear thinking||Creative, abstract and systematic thinking|
|Teaching and learning delivered to young people||Teaching and learning delivered with young people|
|Teacher directed learning||Self directed learning|
|Aged based groups||Readiness and interest grouping|
|Emphasis on discrete subjects||Emphasis on skills and interdisciplinary learning|
|Teaching and learning is process orientated||Teaching and learning is content orientated|
|Extrinsic motivation is used to encourage student learning||Intrinsic motivation creates meaningful engagement|
|Limited access to knowledge||Plentiful access to knowledge|
|Limited resources||Multiple resources of various kinds|
|Textbooks and teaching aids||Multimedia and web-based technologies|
|Lock-step progress||Customised progress based on learning and need|
|Norm-based, completive assessment||Assessment in progressive levels|
|Fixed response testing||Authentic testing|
|Convergent learning with rote memory||Convergent and divergent learning|
|Unmotivated and disengaged learners||Motivated and engaged learners|
|Young people dependent on teacher for learning||Independence and interdependence for learning|
|Compliant learner||Life-long learner|
Looking forward to the three national events, the first event on the 26th October at the Barcelo Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh. Invites went to Directors of Education – CfE Leads, MCMC Leads, MCMC Coordinators, 16+LC Coordinators, College Leads and SDS Area Managers. Though this is an official SG/LTS event, I’ll post some of my experiences (personal to my own professional development) from the events as there is a wealth of knowledge and experience attending; and I always learn something! I do not post anything which poses a conflict of interest to LTS or SG.
Inspectors report good progress in improving provision for young people who require more choices and more chances in Scottish colleges
HMIE is publishing a series of aspect reports on provision within Scotland’s college sector. This series of reports, carried out on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council, complements HMIE’s ongoing programme of generic evaluation of learning and teaching in Scotland’s colleges. These reports aim to evaluate current practice and identify important areas for discussion and debate. They also identify excellent practice and set out areas for development.
Extract from full report, the full article can be found at