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Support works best when you let the kids speak out

ONE of Scotland's leading experts on discipline and exclusion has reinforced the message that "one size does not fit all" in improving behaviour.

Gwynedd Lloyd, of Edinburgh University's education faculty, who has just finished evaluating an innovative project for problem youngsters, commented: "There are many reasons why pupils may be disruptive or disaffected, including family difficulties, poverty, drug use, peer pressure as well as irrelevant curricula and unsupported difficulties in learning.

"So support seems to work best when schools recognise this diversity of reasons for problems and build strategies around the individual circumstances of young people, taking account of their lives and views."

The evaluation of the Edinburgh-based "Young People Speak Out" project, which uses video to help change behaviour patterns among secondary pupils, found that it was "very useful", particularly in developing technical skills and personal relationships.

Pupils and school staff said it was a demanding process since they had to learn how to co-operate in planning and film-making to complete a video in 10 weeks.

Ms Lloyd said the medium was particularly relevant for today's generation whose lives are dominated by moving images, through television, film and PCs.

The report reiterated the importance of a project being seen as part of a package of support which deals with children's wishes as well as their needs.

"There was a sense that some schools were doing this but that, in a few, it was seen as a useful way to occupy some problematic pupils and was not prioritised by school managers," it states.

"Young People Speak Out", an evaluation by Gwynedd Lloyd, Gillean McCluskey and Joan Stead of Edinburgh University.

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