Sunday, 29 June 2008

Feeling young and raising aspirations

I spend much time saying we must remember what it feels like to be young if we are to stay connected to their realities and hence provide education and services that are relevant. This week I have been remembering what I felt like being young. I have been on holiday in Cornwall where i grew up.  

My partner now knows every school I went to, every pub I loved, every beach i took solace and inspiration from, as well as the names (and older faces) of many people i grew up with, the (now waste) and the ground where the GP I first asked about condoms and contraception was.

In public policy we are talking more and more raising aspiration in the young.   Whilst at the Minack Theatre, the awe inspiring outdoor theatre on the edge of the cliff near Lands End, I spent some time reflecting on how aspiration is developed.  

I last went there when I was 18, 3 days before my English Literature A level, where I watched A Winters Tale which was one of my course texts.    As I sat there 18 years ago, i didn't know exactly what my future held.  But I did know I had a future I cared about.  I knew I would be going to University to do something (anything if my results dictated it) and I knew I was excited about the next stage of my life.    

Part of that aspiration was nurtured by my family, part by my school and a huge amount to do with one particular teacher who connected personally, through relationship, to make sure I took the opportunities available.  He said it was a responsibility and a right.  Raising expectations happens in a plethora of ways - school trips, pastoral care, youth opportunities, cubs, guides, religious affiliation, voluntary work.  

The common denominator is aspiration is developed through relationship -.  Let us not be fooled that developing new initiatives or changing structures is our central task - they are part of the process - our task is developing meaningul relationship with all children and young people.   

It is time we ensure 'ability to develop meaningful relationships with children' is number one on all our competency frameworks.  It may be hard to measure, but if we value it we also have to find ways to quantify and celebrate this competency.  It underpins improvement in all public policy areas. 

My holiday reads;

Chesil Beach by Ian Mcewan
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Both of them simply brilliant

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