Mentors have to care!

Over the last twenty years, I have seen the ongoing professionalisation of youth workers leave a tight grip around emotional attachment in mentoring – and while stricter guidelines are undoubtedly necessary for child protection, I have always stood firm in my belief that caring is absolutely essential for effective youth work. Mentors have to care. I can train mentors in health & safety and I can educate them in our company values, but I can’t teach compassion.  When recruiting new mentors, a caring heart and a vision for young people is my number one priority – everything else comes later.…

Reaching isolated young people; growing leaders

I don’t know if it was a sense of loyalty, or ownership – but I remember being keen to stay in the youth group I was involved in as a teenager. While my friends were leaving the club, heading up to join an older group, I stayed behind, eager to help out in any way I could. As I became part of the furniture, I found more and more opportunities to come alongside younger members– much in the same way as others had supported me when I first joined. This growing responsibility brought with it a passion for developing these…

Alternative Education: dumping difficult pupils with bad providers makes the problem worse

As a provider of Alternative Provision for over 11 years, I can sympathise with some of the comments reported from illegal schools last week. As a NEET prevention provider having worked with 50 schools over the last five years, I can also understand the drivers operating in schools. In this BBC article, the illegal school proprietor recognised they had a narrow curriculum, but believed this was supplemented by a higher level of pastoral care. Focussing on illegal schools will not solve the problem that schools face, nor the broader point about education. The fact is that mainstream education does not…

11 years old and LifeLine School is reborn!

In 2005, the Local Authority of Barking and Dagenham approached LifeLine to pilot a year 11 education provision for hard-to-place students and school refusers. Over the last 11 years, this provision has gone from strength to strength and has adapted to suit the changing audience. In recent years, 100% of the referrals have been from recent arrivals, either to the borough or to the country. These recent arrivals require a different programme to the original participants and their parents have different hopes and aspirations. By and large the recent arrivals are economic or education migrants. The parents, in particular, want…

Three ingredients to building character in young people

1. CARE Really caring and having a heart towards young people is absolutely critical if you’re to make a difference and impact their lives. It may sound obvious but it’s difficult to care for someone that you don’t know. But when you have it, care drives and motivates you. It means you don’t just walk away from a conversation and leave it there, but you continue to think about how you might advise them, what you might say to them when you see them later that week. You continue to mull the conversation over in your mind. How can you…