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Life after School – Preparation and Life Skills


30 of the 63 participants gave a response about how prepared they felt leaving school. Many young people gave both negative (19 listings) and positive responses (21 listings).
This would suggest that young people felt both prepared and unprepared for leaving school

“I’m waiting to get through my exams – I know what I need to get into the course….I feel ready.” Care-Experienced young person

“I don’t think I know what all my options are after leaving school [I want] to know what my options are and to know what I need to do in order to get the job I want and be prepared to leave school so I have peace of mind” Young person impacted by Domestic Abuse

All 63 participants responded to the question ‘Who has helped and supported you during your planning for leaving school?’.

Helpful staff knew the young person well and had a trusting relationship:

“Before she was my year head she was my Guidance …[she] knows me and knows what I want to do and points me in the right direction.”

The importance of staff understanding the young person and their needs was highlighted in this response from a young person on the autistic spectrum:

“It was great to have a teacher who totally understood and didn’t think I was stupid as that was how I felt about myself.”

One young person talked about teachers who helped build up his confidence:

“My PE teachers ..they would get me to do demonstrations to the class and that gave me confidence.”

Understanding and responding flexibly to a young person’s needs was important:

“When I was having a really bad time the Depute sorted for me to get a shorter timetable even through it was only for 2 weeks.”

One young person’s experience of being excluded from school turned out positively as the school responded by helping them to move onto a positive destination; one which reflected the young person’s interests and goals:

“… They asked me what my 3 main interests were and they would try to set me up [with an Activity Agreement]. I don’t think they could have done anything better to be honest.”

Simple acts of concern and kindness can be of great significance particularly if young people are feeling vulnerable:

“When I was feeling stressed she helped with my college application. It was nice that she worried for me and we got the application off in the end.”

School staff were helpful when they assisted young people with job and college or university applications:

“My Guidance teacher helped me through college courses and applications and she helped me what to put in my personal statement.”

The main specific criticism about Guidance was they were too busy:

“They are so busy they don’t seem to have time. It can take days to see your Guidance. It’s just stressful as you have extra things to manage and if you can’t get to speak about it you just keep thinking about it.” -Young-Carer

One young person impacted by domestic abuse did not get any help or support:

“I’m just overlooked most of the time …. I’ve had no help at all. I think I’m just a quiet person and like to blend in and get missed.”

Staff need to be more person-centred in their responses and interactions, listen to young people and be proactive in reaching out and offering support.

“Consider the individual and not what the piece of paper says and listen to the student as they know themselves better than anyone else.”

“….sometimes you need help without having to ask for it. Some people won’t ask so we just need you [teachers] to realise this and help.”

Messages around the need to listen to, consult with and respect young people were listed 29 times.

“Value what we say – value our opinions and just like respect what we say and have respect for us as we do for you. Treat each other the same.”

Life skills young people say they need:

“Definitely taxes and stuff. We know about how interest rates work but we don’t know how to choose the right one … and what all the finance means.”

“School doesn’t prepare you in any way for jobs and interviews – we had no mock interviews for example.”

“.. in Year 3 our PSE teacher explained how to do a CV and our school is offering skills-based courses in retail, travel and tourism and hairdressing”

“Going into town, having to book an optician or doctor’s appointment. I don’t feel prepared for this … “

“My mum and dad [are] trying to plan for me to take a train journey on my own …. so I could get more independent and feel more confident living on my own.”