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Ethical Relationships in Practice:
Transcript of Ethical Relationships in Practice:
Personal Development: Inverurie Academy
Background to the Project
The Personal Development project is a targeted pre more choices, more chances early intervention project that took place at Inverurie Academy. The project ran across two terms from October 2013 – April 2014.
The project had three groups (two S4 and one S3) with 17 participants. All of the participants were identified by joint planning by Inverurie Academy Guidance Team and Myself (Colin McRae – Community Learning and Development Worker – Aberdeenshire Council).
The aim of the project was to support and aid young people who were showing signs of being at risk of leaving school and not securing a positive destination in either employment or further education which is a target under the Curriculum for Excellence Strategy (2008). In this project, Aberdeenshire Council’s CLD Strategy (2013) was implemented where the design is to intervene early with young people at school age with the anticipation that the young person will have a better opportunity of obtaining a positive destination.
CLD in Schools?
Working in a school environment, I have learned despite working in a educators capacity that many professionals will view community learning and development as challenging Gramsci’s (1982) hegemony where formal education is seen as the ideological method of learning practice and community learning development as a threat to formal education. The power in which lies with education and where community learning and development are invited through the policy of Curriculum for Excellence (2008) to work with young people in a school has opened up learning opportunities that are flexible and designed to improve opportunities for young people to make successful transitions upon leaving formal education. On the other hand, despite education now working with Community Learning and Development, it could be argued that due to CLD now supporting these young people that are struggling with education that school teachers do not have the professional skill set to work with young people using this approach and call on CLD to support the young person. However, applying Focualt’s (1986) application of power and knowledge; the power lies with the school and their willingness to allow CLD to work with the young people in a partnership role; the knowledge is with CLD who have the skill set and informal approach to work with challenging young people to reach positive destinations upon leaving education. This is despite their being a long standing drive for more employability programmes to be delivered in education since 2002 (Worth).
My Experience of Community Learning in Schools across two local authorities has found to be testing in which I as a professional have had to prove my professionalism to the school before being "allowed" to deliver flexible learning programmes in school that will benefit targetted young people.
When undertaking this project, it was important to be critically conscious that there was a transformative relationship taking place on two levels. Both the partnership with CLD and School, and the young people went through a transformative relationship whilst undertaking this project.
Research by Smith (2005) recognised that secondary education providers wishing to deliver targeted approaches require to be flexible with partners organisations to allow programmes to be developed and delivered. Moreover Ofstead (2010) found that using a collaborative approach with education and relevant partners enables young people to become engaged with learning and employment through the use of a personalised learning package that is based around the young person’s needs. Therefore, for flexible learning partnerships to exist the school has to enable CLD to work within their own terms to deliver outcomes in line with the CLD code of ethics (CLD Standards Council, 2008).
In looking at my work with the School, much of the drive in this project initially was to achieve accreditation with the young people from both the schools and CLD's point of view. Much of the drive in youth work nationally is that young people should undertake accreditation with personal and social development (Youth Scotland, 2008, Connexions, 2002). As a professional, I agree that accreditation holds a place within youth work as it enables targeted individuals and young people in most need a means of achievement and recognition. However, I have felt much of Smith (2003) when working in the school environment in which accreditation shifts the focus of the work adding a more formalised aspect to youth work as well as putting professionals under pressure to achieve the outcomes and putting relationships with young people at risk. During this project, I felt it was more crucial to keep the young peoples needs as the priority and only focussing on accreditation at relevant points by doing this I felt I kept the young people focussed and interested throughout the project.
Another particular aspect that I found as a particular interesting ethical concept is in working with education and taking on board the CLD competency of practicing in different roles such as facilitating, supporting, leading, advocating that are appropriate to the work in which you are involved (CLD Standards Council, 2008) that much of the focus in CLD although the practice has been undoubtedly upskilled is becoming focused towards the delivery of the work rather than the relationship. As Smith (2003) identified that the focusing of work around outcomes means that CLD professionals are losing the relationships which once was the pivotal aspect of youth work. Drawing a parallel, as CLD is now part of the HMIE (2012) learning community inspection like schools are now working toward performance outcome indicators (Aberdeenshire CLD Strategy, 2014) and targets had led to a lessening of engagement of CLD with young people building meaningful relationships (Smith, 2013). This for me raises the question despite young people gaining valuable employability skills and outcomes in this project, the relationship was not natural due to the aspect of compulsory participation within a school setting does not conform with Harts (1992) ladder of participation in which young people participate voluntarily and build relationships naturally.
In working with education and other partners within the CLD Code of ethics is dealing with the tensions of other partners and defining our limits in partnership work (CLD Standards Council, 2009). One of the key issues that I had to distinguish in this project especially to the young people was keeping the identity of CLD as a profession and how it differed from formal education. As Sercombe (2010) stated it is paramount to be clear what youth work is and what youth work does. The learning package that was delivered in this project was an engagement in line with Sercombe (2010) that was flexible, informal and transformative. However, it can be argued that it was not on their own terms of engagement a like Sercombe’s (2010) parameters but it did foster towards this as the young people engaged and contributed to the program design. In addition, through the personal development group many of the young people self selected to join the youth groups at the community centre on their own accord and this may not have happened as a result of the personal development project.
School and CLD
Three groups were formed having been selected by the Guidance Team at Inverurie Academy. Many of the young people that were selected for the groups did not know their purpose for being there, except that it would be beneficial for them when they leave school. At this point it was critical for me as a practitioner to gain the trust of the young people and ensure that their participation in the group was worthwhile (Banks 1999). As Houston (2004) stated that in the commencement of structured groups there may be resistance for attending the group as they may not agree with the purposes of the group. In many cases, I experienced this with many of the participants making derogatory remarks about themselves and what they perceived the group to be. This was a result of the group being of compulsory participation through education and not through voluntary self selection. Brookfield (1986) stated that enforced participation may lead to learners disengaging and not acknowledging new ideas or skills. Therefore, it was crucial that I established the purpose of the group so that the participants could engage on their own terms. This was achieved by myself influencing that my role was not that of a teacher but as a community worker who was their to support the group through the programme. This takes into account Ledwith (2005) where both the practitioner and learner are equal thus removing the heirarchial model of education and using a equal 'problem posing' approach to support the learners through the personal development programme. In addition, allowing the group to set their own rules and boundaries thus empowering the group to make their own decisions and design the personal development program around their needs with I as the professional providing the tools and support, resources for them to develop their skills in employability.
Alan Johnston - Principal Teacher of Guidance - Inverurie Academy - Interview on Personal Development Groups
Looking at the professional approach of both education and CLD surrounding the personal development project, I have identified that two models of professionalism have been used. On the side of education, it is clear from my past experience and with elements of this programme that the traditional model of professionalism (Thompson, 2007) has been used where there is a clear hierarchy with the professional being dominant which resulted in many of the participants being unwilling to cooperate and resenting their involvement in the programme. On identifying this and along with the guidance team, I noted that the focus of the group would require a democratic approach and a purpose to the participants of the group. I identified that although I had the power and knowledge to support the young people participating, there required to be a sharing of knowledge from the participants in order for me as a professional to support them with their development prospects. I therefore applied the model of new professionalism (Thompson, 2007) in which I would work with the young people on an equal basis, and as clearly highlighted by the video with guidance team there seems to be an understanding that by working with young people using a more flexible approach that young people can be managed more easily and make more successful transitions and choices within education to more positive destinations. As Fook (2002) stated that by challenging power dynamics and using a flexible approach will enable the practitioner to engage with the participants in a more successful manner allowing for enhanced outcomes .
Moreover, on making subsequent changes to the group and identifying that my approach at the commencement of the programme although informal was to structured and focused around the agenda of achievement so that my professional practice would be held as having an impact on the young people and showing my capability as a practitioner to work in partnership with education. The approach was changed to make the project a lot more informal with the outcome of the young people making a resultant positive destination being the prority and the achievement of a youth accreditation award coming as a benefit for participating in the programme. In doing this, I have resultantly found that much of my work of de-professionalising my approach has correlated with research completed by Benn (1981) around tackling poverty. Benn (1981) identified that outcome of a project can be deterred by the use or professionalism where it creates a barrier between the practitioner and the participants of the project. Wink (1988) noted also that a practitioners neutral and unbiased practice can lower the level of engagement and subsequent outcome for the participant. Therefore, by my own implementation of working with young people on a equal basis and flexible approach I have been able to create an informal environment that is supportive to the young people making positive transitions. Looking at the wider picture, Galper (1975) noted that the ideology of professionals is based on using techniques to work with programmes other than find solutions to address political in structural issues. In this piece of work, it would be fair to state that the work used an informal approach technique to engage with the young people which is aimed at addressing the wider issues of setting an early intervention for youth unemployment in Scotland which at the start of this project was at 22.3% (October 2013) (Scottish Government, 2013). Although Youth unemployment is lowering across Scotland, it could be stated that programmes like this delivered by CLD Professionals across the country have the scope to intervene early and enable young people to become more equipped to make positive decisions regarding their development from leaving education. However, many of the pitfalls for this types of work relate to the professional delivery of CLD within a formal education environment and the objectives of each profession in this piece of work. As Lipsky (2010) stated that it is certain pieces of policy that makes the impact on peoples live in this case Curriculum for Excellence and the Education Act 2013 which in certainly in this case enabled the integration of CLD into the school environment to deliver this programme. In addition, Lipsky (2010) further stated that improvisations are also made to work to ensure that the work suits both parties of the partnership and the participants. In this case, I had many discussions with both my senior and the school guidance and SMT team to negotiate and ensure that the programme suited both parties. However, at the forefront was that the young people got the desired outcomes out of the programme and at times this required me to advocate for the young people and by making these decisions I was times found to be at the bitter end when really both parties should have been focusing on the outcome of the young people and not how the school or CLD will look as a result of an impending HMIE Inspection in the future.
Outcomes of The Personal Development Group
Requests of the Young People
Career Support ( CVs, Job Applications, Futher Education Support)
Team Building Games
School Agenda (Beginning)
CLD Agenda (Beginning)
Justin came to Inverurie Academy in 2013 to start S4 having been excluded from Kemnay Academy for a number of incidents in S3. When Justin began the programme, he was very disruptive to the group and showing a distinct lack of confidence. Many of the questions that I would ask Justin in the beginning resulted in sarcastic answers that played to the group but one day he then mentioned..... "I want to get an apprenticeship after school and I don't know if I can do it. The School will not help me and I don't want them to help me" - In response I said that I could help Justin; but he would need to show that he would be willing to participate and help himself.
From this point Justin participated well in the group particularly after January and began to engage in the Youth Groups such as the Youth Forum at the Community Centre.
In March, Justin approached me after a group session asking me to negotiate more time so that I could help him look at apprenticeships and apply for jobs whilst putting together a CV. One month later, Justin told me before commencing exams that he had secured a position with an Oil and Gas Service Company as an Apprentice Technician and would start in July.
In my time working with Justin, I have recognised a rebelious teenage boy who had to change school and where his previous reputation had preceded him and his new teachers were unwilling to give him a chance. He had at first tarred me with the same brush but soon recognised that CLD's approach was different and engaged with us. Engaging with CLD has supported Justin to gain employment upon leaving education which may not have been realistic at the start of the academic year.
Kirsty was referred to the Personal Development Programme as she struggled with mainstream education despite having the ability to perform in class was distracted by her peer group and issues that arised from her family background. When she joined the programme at first she was a little unsure of the benefit to her and envied her selection knowing her ability.
However, Kirsty began participating and taking a lead role in many of the tasks and becoming supportive of others in the group. Kirsty applied for college and gained entry for hairdressing and achieved a dynamic youth award for her participation.
Only last week, Kirsty came into the Community Centre to tell me that she had gained a job with a local hairdressers that would financially support her and help her in training whilst undertaking the college course.
Jamie Harper - S4 - Participant of Personal Development Group
Although the School and CLD have worked together in the past, no formalised structured programmes had been present at Inverurie Academy for around five years from a partnership organisation. As the new model of the HMIE (Education Scotland, 2013) encompasses both the school and the community, this in turn brought about pressure for both partners to be actively working together in partnership. This is in turn strengthened with the issue of new regulations in 2013 (Education Scotland) for Community Learning and Development to be part of the school curriculum . In turn, there had already been a political structure created by policy in which both parties were influenced that they must be shown to be working together. However, the social structure of integrating CLD into Inverurie Academy would be the challenge. However, globally across Aberdeenshire and in wider Scotland, I could imagine that a power struggle would be taking place where Community Learning and Development professionals across the country would be trying to integrate their way into the education system. Metaphorically, this situation has connotations of fall of the Berlin Wall, although the wall between the two populations had collapsed and brought CLD and Education professionals together, barriers and problems would still exist as a result of these professionals being brought together. Linking to theory of hegemony (Ledwith, 2005), Community Learning Development is seen in educations eyes as the lesser professional that is challenging the hegemony of the school education professionals which currently holds the dominance in the education system and the key to CLD professionals working within a school. However, as a professional, I agree to a certain point as a Community Work Professional that a hegemony of CLD working in schools will always exist as the school professionals are the lead professionals in their institution. What I do take on board is that the hegemony should always be open to as Enwhisltle (1979) mentioned to constant analysis, challenge and modification where Community Learning and Development should be a respected professional in the education environment where their professional opinion is of a flexible informal nature in which they work with young people. Looking to Gramsci (1982) a social equilibrium between the partners should exist within a hegemony where compromises are met and not acts of tokenism in which CLD will work with education to prove their worth.
In reflection, although CLD having now established itself in Inverurie Academy, a question will always be on my mind that is the relationship equal between CLD and the School. Furthermore, looking at the changes in Education Scotland (2013) has been extremely helpful for the integration of CLD into Education. However, from my past experience of working with schools in Moray where the partnerships have already been established, it shouldn’t have taken a policy document and the pressure of inspections to ensure that both parties should be working together. Knowing the demographic of young people that attended the school, both partners should have been pro-active in identifying young people in need of support as the bottom line is that the young people and their futures are what matters.
In building a partnership with the school, Thompson (2007) stated that a professional rapport can be established quickly if the professional has the appropriate skills and abilities in particular listening to each other and both parties not establishing their own agenda. I feel that this has been apparent in this partnership to an extent as my intervention with the young people has resulted in the project having a positive outcome and with effective communication with the school guidance team, I, like the young people as a professional am a lot more confident working with them now compared to what I was at the start of the academic session.
Reflections on Young People
The Partnership for the Personal Development Programme with CLD and the School was formed through myself attending a number of meetings with the School Guidance Team. It was initiated by myself attending a school guidance meeting (June, 2013) where I pitched a range of ideas from the Garioch Team Development plan and from past experience of my work in Moray where I delivered a range of school based CLD projects. The Guidance team were asked to identify a number of pupils who were seen to be at risk of not reaching a positive destination upon leaving education and who would benefit from a programme of personal development.
Up until this point historically there had been no formal programmes in place within the school and through the identification of young people that had reached the Skills Development Scotland referral programme, there had been an identification of early intervention work required to provide young people with the opportunity of preventing them falling towards a negative destination.
Unfortunately due to a family circumstance, I was unable to attend the referral and selection meeting with the Guidance Team and instead my previous senior CLD worker who had no experience of working in a school education environment attended the meeting and consequently agreed to the people on the programme and the suggested groups . This resulted in the groups being difficult to manage in the first instance and resulted in my reacting as a worker to set things right throughout the programme.
Building a rapport and using open teamwork to collaborate between agencies (Payne, 2000) was cruical to develop the partnership between CLD and the School. Having regular meetings and contact with members of the guidance team brought about the building of the partnership. This resulted in CLD being able to clarify their role as a result of better communication between both sides of the partnership.
Improve Attendance Rate of Pupils
Youth Accreditation Awards
Personal Development and Employability Work
Curriculum for Excellence
In the beginning many of the young people who were referred to the programme were seen as very challenging young people to the school for a number of reasons such as their behaviour in school, low attendance levels and their low attainment levels. This resulted in their referral to the Personal Development Programme. Many of the young people were allocated onto the course simply as Guidance had no more else to put these young people and this programme offered the young people a different opportunity.
In some cases it would remove young people from their one timetabled a week class for Personal and Social Education meaning that some of the young people would not have contact with their Guidance teacher in scheduled time for a sustained period of time.
To Build a Partnership with Education
To Engage with hard to reach young people in School
Deliver a tailored Personal Development Programme
Youth Accreditation Award Opportunity
Curriculum for Excellence and HMIE Inspection Priority
Kirsty and Justin
17 Young People S3 (8) and S4 (9) Participated in the Programme
10 Dynamic Youth Awards Achieved
4 Young People have achieved Places in Further Education
1 Young Person to either join the armed forces or continue in Education
3 young people have achieved modern apprenticeships (Oil and Gas, Hairdressing and Childcare)
S3's worked on projects of Social Skills and Anger Management - Resulting in higher levels of confidence being reported and increased attendance levels in school
Partnership established with School at Guidance and Senior Management Levels
CLD part of the pastoral care team and attend regular weekly meetings
CLD set to continue running Flexible Learning Packages to Young People in 2014-15 Session
Reflections on Partnership Working With Education
Pictures of Personal Development Group Activities
Background Music - Jimmy Eat World - The Middle (2003) - Used as it tells my story of being in the middle between the young people and the school building the partnership for the greater good of the Learning Community and Young People. Along the way I had to make some decisions that were to the best of my ability and at times against the grain of what line management possibly wanted but with the interests of the young people as the focus at all times.
ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL (2014) CLD Service Plan 2013 – 15, Aberdeenshire Council, Woodhill House, Aberdeen
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CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL (2008) CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL: The Competencies, CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL Glasgow, Scotland
CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL (2010) CLD Standards Council: Code of Ethics, Glasgow, Scotland
CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE (2008) Education Scotland, Livingston, Scotland
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SERCOMBE , H. (2010) Youth Work Ethics, Sage Publications, London, United Kingdom
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YOUTH SCOTLAND (2008) Youth Achievement Awards: Find out more about Youth Achievement Awards Here, Youth Scotland., Edinburgh, Scotland