SEE BELOW FOR INFORMATION AND REVIEWS OF WORKSHOP DAY 2014.
Workshop A - Using Case Studies to Examine Schools' Duties under the Equality Act 2010
Dr Rachel Shanks, University of Aberdeen
Dr Rachel Shanks from the University of Aberdeen gave a clear outline of a school’s responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010), the key issues, including the exceptions to the rules and the reasonable steps that should be taken to prevent discrimination.
Some points that I took from the presentation, were that victimisation covered by the act is staff / pupil: not pupil / pupil; exceptions to discrimination were competitive sport, the curriculum and collective worship and that positive action is acceptable for groups not individuals.
We then worked in groups and discussed various case studies. This prompted plenty of discussion and Rachel circulated round the groups elaborating on the scenarios. This exercise would be helpful in discussing this important issue with colleagues in our schools.
We came away with useful information and the sense that we had an understanding of the Equality Act and our duties within it.
Here are some links following on from Rachel's workshop on Saturday. It is important people make sure they select the documents for Scotland where there are different versions.
Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland – http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/scotland/
Technical Guidance for Schools in Scotland – go to page http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/equality-act/equality-act-codes-of-practice-and-technical-guidance/
Reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils – Scotland - http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/education-providers-schools-guidance/key-concepts/reasonable-adjustments/
Equality Act 2010 Technical Guidance on the Public Sector Equality Duty – Scotland - http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/scotland/public-sector-equality-duty/technical-guidance/
What equality law means for you as an education provider – schools - http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/new-equality-act-guidance/equality-act-guidance-downloads/
Workshop B -Teenage Relationships in Schools - A Reflection
Linsey Revell Choices Aberdeen/Avenue Counselling Agency & Elaine Fyfe, VSA/Aberdeen City Council
This workshop was thought-provoking and inspiring. Led by Linsey Revell from Choices Aberdeen/Avenue Counselling Agency and assisted by Elaine Fyfe from Hazlehead Academy in Aberdeen, the workshop was interactive and innovative. Linsey and Elaine asked simple questions such as who/ what the positive/negative influences were when we were teenagers, which led to some excellent discussion when comparing it to teenagers today. A relationship pyramid was completed in groups which got everyone debating on the qualities required in a positive relationship. The workshop was rounded up with a short media clip reminding us of why we are in the jobs we are, to make a difference!
Linsey and Elaine reminded participants of the workshop that we need to look at how/what we speak/treat teenagers if we want a positive relationship with them in school. Reflecting on our teenage years and what ‘worked’ for us back then is very similar to what ‘works’ for teenagers now!
Workshop C - Suicide & Self-Harm - Mental Wellbeing in Young People
Shona Straiton, SMAH
Shona Straiton from SAMH with Morna Johnston talking about personal experiences
Focussing on the importance of understanding and supporting young people with mental health issues, this workshop was led by Shona who works in suicide prevention and trains others in that role. What came across really strongly is that suicide and self harm are still widely unreported, the scale of the problem is difficult to quantify and that schools have a crucial part to play it talking away the stigma of asking for help. Morna, still in her teens, talked about the difficulties she felt when she transitioned from school into her first job; the feelings of isolation and also of being unable to identify where she could go for help. She highlighted how much it would have benefitted her if the school she had attended had educated the pupils in mental health issues.
It became clear through the workshop that there are discrepancies as to the referral methods, services and support that schools can access through their local authorities. Waiting lists and referral times seems to be an issue for all and this again brings it around to the importance of PHSE programmes in schools and the training of staff, so that on a first point of contact basis they feel comfortable talking to the young person.
Workshop D - Supporting Learners - A Conversation
David Watt, Education Scotland
As indicated by the open nature of the title, this was not a traditional style of workshop where the participants learn from the presenter of the most recent developments in his area of expertise. David set out to engage his group in a conversation about their own daily practice, to reflect on their own experiences, to encourage them to raise issues of concern and to share experiences and personal examples of good practice. David set the context of the open agenda, initiated the discussion and before long members of the group responded positively to the opportunity to clarify/unload/question on matters of importance to their own particular situations. Among the range of topics explored were: structures, key adults, training, time allocation and management, demands from specialist departments.. The open format appeared to be a success, certainly worthy of repetition in the future; however I think that David may have benefited from the services of a note keeper to record the range of issues from this workshop to enable him to reflect on the conversations he successfully led on the day.
Workshop E - Working Effectively With Families
Cat Thomson, ENQUIRE & Sandra Mitchell, Resolve ASL National Mediation Service
A very informative workshop delivered by Cat Thomson from ‘ENQUIRE ‘and Sandra Mitchell from ‘Resolve ASL National Mediation Service’. Participants of the workshop were provided an overview of the role of both services and the significance of accessible information and advice for parents. During the workshop discussions focussed on the ways parents and carers can be supported to work with schools to ensure children and young people with additional support needs get the most from their education.
Awareness was also raised on the need to put practical solutions to improving relationships with parents/carers in place within our schools. One of the most common concerns was that parents/carers did not know/understand the framework of help/support within their child’s school but once information is shared regarding support a huge difference in the home/school relationship takes place.
Participants of the workshop reflected and discussed the question “What are the challenges in your role in working with parents?” It appears that it doesn’t really matter which school in Scotland you work in the challenges are similar, as are the solutions!
Workshop F - Working with Bilingual and Minority Ethnic Learners: Opportunities and Challenges
Jane Berry, Edinburgh EAL Service
Jane introduced the workshop with a little bit of background information about the Edinburgh area EAL Service: there are 3700 bilingual pupils, speaking 100 different languages and 29 full time teachers.
So much depends on the initial contact at the school for both the pupil and the parents as it sets the tone for good home/school links. It takes 2 years to develop basic interpersonal communication skills and 7-10 years to develop cognitive and academic language proficiency, therefore we should be aware and on the lookout for the barriers to learning that each bilingual pupil may face. Having information about level of ability is useful prior to the pupil starting but in most cases, it is just trial and error in trying to place a pupil in the right class. Placing in middle to higher performing sets is best and having high expectations of the pupil helps the young person aim higher. Information about bilingual pupils with ASN is very scant as it tends to be under reported.
Jane suggested some ways that we could help bilingual pupils feel more welcome in our schools: have signs up around the school in different languages; allow use of the pupil’s first language with a buddy when discussing more complex topics; have texts, talk and internet use in first language.
Having given us the background, Jane asked us to discuss some scenarios and identify the barriers to learning that the young people would be facing and how we could help to break down some of those barriers to enable them to reach their potential.
Jane gave an excellent insight into some of the issues around bilingual pupils in schools and we all left with a much greater understanding of the challenges they face.
Workshop G - Building better relationships, better learning, better behaviour – a training programme for support staff