13 August, 2019

Young people are our future.

It’s taken days and days of procrastination for me to create some space and sit down to write this. I’m not a natural blogger (if there is such a thing?) but I was inspired to just get on with it after our previous blogger Tim Oliver - who did an excellent job, told me to ‘Eat My Frog’ in some recent training we did together. So here goes………. I hope it’s not too slimy.

Yesterday (12/08) was International Youth Day and all over the globe celebrations of everything young and youthful are taking place. The 12th August has been designated International Youth Day since 1999 and this year’s theme is “Transforming Education”. It is aimed at highlighting efforts made not only by Government bodies but young people and youth organisations all over the world in order to make education available and inclusive to all.

Did you know that there are currently 1.8 billion young people between 10 -24 years old in the world? No, neither did I! They are our future parents, doctors, engineers, philosophers, campaigners, leaders, our actual future. They hold the key to change what can sometimes feel like an intrenched and hopeless world, and the investment in their education and development in order to unlock their potential, for them to ask the questions no one else is thinking about – however uncomfortable that may be - is absolutely vital.

It was with some dismay then that I read in the recently published Education in England Annual Report Card 2019 -by the Education Policy Institute in partnership with the Fair Education Alliance - that:

Progress is beginning to stall in tackling inequalities in our education system. If current 5 years trends continue, it would take over 500 years for the overall disadvantage gap to close by the end of secondary school".

The report goes on to state that progress in closing the GCSE attainment gap between disadvantaged young people and their peers has come to an actual standstill, and some children are now on average a year and half behind by the time they finish their GCSE’s.

I found myself thinking about some of the young people I have worked with, and all the challenges and difficulties they have faced at such a young age when they should have been able to focus on their education. I asked myself the question – how would I have coped under those pressures, would I have been able to concentrate on learning? Most likely not, in all honesty - what about you?

I then started to think about some of the older young people we have supported over time, and how they have come back to embrace learning and education when life is more settled and couldn’t help but think how much I admire those individuals. When I ask them – ‘what has motivated you to want to return to learning?’ there is a common theme in their response. A previous teacher, or aunty, or youth worker, or support worker, or social worker – someone in their past believed in them and said they could achieve.

Sometimes we have no idea of the impact we can have on an individual, or if a piece of advice or encouragement will be stored away, kept safe and bought out to use when the time is right. Even if succeeding in education looks like it is as far away at it could possibly be for a young person, WE should always convey the message that they can achieve and have something positive to offer the world.

Ellen Sanders is our Education, Training & Employment Manager in the Wrap Around Team working with young people in care and those leaving care. Read more about those services here >

»