Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for August, 2008

Academies Update

I’ve posted before about the development of Academies and thought I would give an update on how things are progressing. The youth council from the area concerned wrote to Cabinet Members, District and Parish Councillors, youth officers and also their local MP, Tim Loughton to organise a meeting to express their concerns about the lack of planning and potential loss of ‘their’ youth wing. This took place this week and was a real compliment to both them and the staff working with them. They had a number of questions and queries for the invitees which they presented really positively.

Photo courtesy of Colb

Photo courtesy of Colbwt

As mentioned previously, the Academies programme does not allow for capital build of non-educational buildings. This means that there isn’t any funding available for a new youth wing (the old one will be knocked down to make space for the rebuild.) It is the first foray into Academies for both Woodards, the Charitable Trust we are working in partnership with and who will be taking on the running of the Academy, and ourselves. At the moment Cabinet Members have been in touch with Ed Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to raise the issue with a specific concern about the lack of joined up policy. I think the young people are now looking to write to him directly as well and Tim will also be scheduling some questions.

 

Locally we’re also looking at how we might define ‘Education’ in its broadest sense so that we can include informal education as a potential solution. We also discussed other possible sites with the group although everyone agreed that the school location is the best place in this situation. (more…)

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What I have learnt from Blogging so far

Mike Amos-Simpson has written an article, both in Children and Young People Now and also online about the development of online resources as a tool for youth work professionals as much as for young people. In commenting on his post it has led me to reflect on what I have learnt since I took the plunge into the blogosphere.

As a complete novice I was quite intimidated by the ‘net’ and concerned about various factors, in particular:-

  • Blogging whilst working for a local authority as there are no guidelines
  • What colleagues might think and whether it would affect my relationships with them
  • Whether I actually had anything of relevance to say

In trying it out I’ve discovered not only that my concerns were unfounded but also a whole new community and abundance of resources that have stretched my thinking and pushed me to look outside of the norm for solutions. Online forums have opened up a realm of possibilities for sharing and developing work across both the county and the country, bookmarking sites have now become a major resource when I’m seeking information on different topics (along with other peoples’ blogs) and I’ve discovered virtual worlds and social games which I’m still getting my head round and trying to work out how I can use them in my current work.

Mainly it has been a change to my mindset. Blogging has helped me to:-

  • Be more reflective,
  • Think about (and place ) my work in both a local and national context
  • Learn from others
  • Understand how I can do things differently in order to communicate with colleagues more effectively, work collaboratively and share my ideas and thoughts with a wider community

So what’s stopping you?!?!?!

China Update – 2

Wow! We’ve just had a great weekend at Cobnor Outdoor Actvities Centre with the group of young people heading to China. It was a pretty packed weekend with lots of laughs, and serious discussions. We started off getting to know each other and working out how we wanted to work and live together both on the weekend and while away. It was a busy Friday evening as everyone chatted, learnt how to use the cameras, had the opportunity to diary their early thoughts about the project and chill out playing some old favorites.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked directly with a group so I was a bit nervous and wondered if I could still do it.  It didn’t take long to ‘warm up’ and soon we were all getting that buzz of working together, discovering new people, their hopes, interests and passions!

Saturday morning saw us out in the rain canoeing and climbing (well, I canoed but didnt climb as I had to prepare for the next session). It was an early start and the damp seeped through the skin as we paddled up towards the end of the spit. Most of the group I was with had paddled before so it was a good chance to mix, altough a couple of young people did spend some time going round in circles. Throughout the weekend we’ve been experimenting with a FLIP camera and, having got all our consents, here is a bit of a taster of what the weekend was like!

Saturday afternoon saw us all playing pictionary (!) with a twist of course! The game was fast and furious and was a great opportunity to start raising the question of stereotypes and assumptions (and how these were developed) as ‘old’ was pictured most consistently as an elderly person with a cane and glasses, ‘disabled’ through an individual in a wheelchair, and French with the eiffel tower. It was interesting to see how difficult it was for the group to draw a picture of somewhere they had never heard of, in this instance Bhutan. This was our start of exploring Culture and Identity.

With a chance to explore the papers to see how both China and great Britain were being portrayed headlines abounded and promoted an interesting discussion about where we got our information from about what was happening in the world and how the papers influcences our thoughts. As you can see, with the evening rapidly approaching we got ready to go out for a chinese meal, I know, it’s not the same as in China but the main objective was to encourage the group to use chopsticks and also to try food that they hadn’t tried before. There were a lot of new taste experiences!!!!!

Unfortunately I had to leave later that evening. The group were brilliant and worked really hard as well as having a lot of fun. I’m keen to get an update to see how everyone got on with raft building and putting together a youth opportunity fund bid. I’m sure we’ll have more news to follow soon…..

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