Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Smile Foundation proudly presents: U

It's been an exciting time these last 6 months. I've been working with a group of S2 pupils at All Saints Secondary school as part of Save the Children's In My Back Yard Programme. This programme gives young people an opportunity to identify and carry out a local change project which contributes towards ending child poverty in the UK, or at least towards alleviating the effects of child poverty in the UK. Child poverty in the UK? you may ask, surely there is no child poverty here! Well, not true. In fact, 1 in 3 children in the UK grow up in poverty, according to official ways of measuring child poverty. This is because the UK is a rather unequal society, meaning that the difference between the richest and the poorest is bigger than in comparable countries. In Scotland, 1 in 4 children is growing up in poverty - and that's not kids who have unemployed parents, most of the children growing up in poverty actually have a working parent.

When we asked the pupils how poor kids could do well for themselves, the answer was clear. Education. Education is the best route out of poverty. However, education at present is failing poor kids. Children from low income households are already behind in comparison to their richer peers when they start school. By the end of Primary school, they are 22% behind and by the end of secondary school ... Well it's dire, with twice the likelihood of being out of work and education at age 16.

At the same time, kids don't just learn at school. In fact, 86% of all learning happens outside of school. Which means that parents have a great opportunity to make education work for their kids - regardless of income. And it's often little things that matter - help with homework, taking time to talk about the day over the dinner table, having a designated study space at home.

The young people at All Saints have explored all of these issues and made a short film of it. They called themselves The Smile Foundation because they want to see a smile on every child's face, and they called the film U because everyone has the power to make a difference by taking responsibility rather than blaming everyone else.
U is for young people to take charge and talk to their parents / teacher if they struggle or get bullied.
U is for teachers to always look beyond the behaviour they see, and understand what may be behind it and see the whole person.
U is for parents to stop and listen and remember what it was like to be at school for them.
U is for everyone of us, so we look through the eyes of the parent, the teacher, the young person and take a positive and small step towards making a big difference.

What can you do you may wonder? Well, there's a lot to choose from!
  • We are looking for top tips from parents, teachers and young people: what works for you, how do you support your child's education? Please share this on our The Smile Foundation UK Facebook page.
  • How about taking a pledge to your child/children? A commitment to doing something small that can really support your child's education? I've pledged to keep my netbook switched off for at least 30 minutes after coming home with the kids, so I can listen and don't get distracted. Sounds like nothing? Well, it's a big deal for me and I know how annoyed my kids get when I'm typing away while they're asking for some 1-1 attention. You can take the pledge on the facebook page. We're aiming for 150, so how about asking your parent/teacher friends to make a pledge too?
  • You could blog about it and tag other bloggers - and if you do so, please add your post to the linky below!
  • Oh and how about sharing the video far and wide? That would be so so lovely.

1 comment:

Jen Walshaw said...

That video is really thought provoking and has made me stop and think. A great way to get a very important message across



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