A group of young people has launched a new guide for school staff and pupils in Aberdeenshire on how they can support Looked After Children.
The premier of the DVD took place at an event last week (Friday, September 9) and was led by members of the Young People’s Organising and Campaigning Group (YPOC).
The group is made up of young people aged 12 and over, including some currently living in foster care, kinship care and residential care as well as some who have moved on from care.
Through the guide and DVD, young people who are Looked After in Aberdeenshire give first-hand accounts of their experiences and advice on how staff and their peers can help them get the most out of school.
Some of their thoughts and ideas on what helps them include: “My teacher was very aware of my situation and asked me to type up my weekend news to check I was okay.”
“You need a solid foundation at home. If this fails through, then perhaps at school you also fail. You need teachers to give you more time, be less strict and ‘special care’. Foster carers should be more actively involved in the school.”
“I sometimes get angry and there is always a teacher that will take time to talk to me.”
“If the teachers know I’m struggling they give extra help and cut down the workload.”
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee, and the council’s Champion for Looked After Children (South), Cllr Alison Evison said: “This guide and DVD are the result of a huge amount of hard work by the YPOC Group to make sure Looked After Children have the best possible experience at school.
“School is a very important part of every young person’s life and these resources are one of the ways teachers, school support staff and other pupils can get to know what it’s like to be in care and the challenges Looked After Young People might be facing.”
Cllr Anne Robertson who is the Champion for Looked After Children (North) at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “As a corporate parent, we should be ensuring that all of our Looked After Children and young people do the very best they can in our schools.
“They should not be made to feel different because they are cared for away from home.
“While the experience for some is positive, some of our Looked After Children do not feel appropriately supported to achieve and maximise their opportunities to succeed.
“In this guide, our young people are sending us a clear message which we must listen to and consider what we are going to do to make a difference.
“We have a responsibility to act.”
The council’s Education & Children’s Services is now going to be working with the YPOC Group to look at how best to put the recommendations into practice.
A copy of the DVD will be purchased for each school for use in staff training and induction and there are proposals for the YPOC Group to work with senior staff members to develop lesson plans to accompany the DVD during PSE lessons.