Schools told to listen when making decisions

Schools have been reminded to listen more to the views of the 5,000 young people in residential care.

A training video, produced by Who Cares? Scotland, the organisation for which Education Minister Cathy Jamieson once worked, stresses the rights of children and young people to be heard in making decisions about their future.

Too often, the opinions of professionals take precedence, which may not be in the best interests of young people, it claims.

Steven Paterson, the charity's assistant director, said that it was common practice for young people to move between placements - from units and residential schools to foster homes - which damaged the continuity of their education. They often moved from one area to the next, breaking ties with family and friends.

Mr Paterson said they were also more at risk of exclusion from school. "They are not all bad and there are a whole lot of things going on in their lives and it would be better if people could see the whole picture so that young people get a fair chance," he said at the video's launch in Glasgow last week. "There are a lot of breaks in their school experience which makes it very difficult for them to go back in."

The video package, which costs pound;60, uses young actors from East Ayrshire with children who have experience of care and highlights several scenarios faced by young people.

Cases include a boy moving to a foster home well away from his traditional home area and a girl moving towards independent living but being forced to transfer to another school after she has taken her Standard grades.

Kirstie Maclean, director of the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care, which sponsored the video package, said that in a survey of 134 providers of care in residential schools and units responses had failed to mention children's rights as a staff training need.

In contrast, the majority view of 80 young people placed it top of the priority list.

Called Always Look on the Rights Side of Life, it points out that one in four such children have been physically abused and that 100,000 children in Scotland are facing domestic abuse.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you