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Being a wee brother is both a curse and a blessing. There is a 10.5 year age difference between me and Neil. Growing up, Neil and Colin were more like gods than mere mortals to me. They arrived back from mysterious far away cities, like Dundee and Edinburgh, fitted out in long trench coats, attitude and humour that influenced and guided my tastes in music, book, films and life in general. I still had the feeling they both looked upon me as but a wee boy of nine – wide eyed and gullible behind the NHS specs.
But then that’s understandable. I was supposed to be a dog. As children, mum had told them that if they wanted to have a dog then they would have to save up for one. Diligently they started emptying their loose pennies into a giant and empty brandy bottle. Only when they had saved to the top of the bottle would they be able to go and choose a dog. And, as the legend is told, it was just as the coins were finally beginning to make their way up the long neck of the bottle, and all thoughts started to dream of long walks throwing sticks in the park that mum announced she was pregnant – with the little sister they always wanted. That’s right; the next thing on their want list after a dog was a little sister. What hope did I have?
Actually, I could not have been luckier to have a big brother such as Neil. His influence on me always has and always will continue to be completely immeasurable. Where do I start? He bathed me as a baby. He bought me my first Asterix book. He shaped my musical tastes from an early age. A compilation tape from 1989 single-handily converted the whole of Turriff into avid fans of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. He introduced me to Bruce Chatwin and Raymond Carver but also Alisdair Gray, James Joyce and Graham Swift.
Many times as an impoverished student I found refuge gently cradling his toilet bowl following a heavy night of drinking, yet another rock n’ roll history lesson and an early morning lecture from the philosopher Bill Hicks.
He nurtured my passion for curry with trips to Khushis and the hallowed Formica tables of Kebab Mehal. There he would do mysterious and cool things like order dishes that weren’t on the menu. Normal people didn’t do these things. Only big brothers. And gods. But I didn’t believe in gods.
I remember the day he left for Ireland in that famous tomato soup Ford Escort estate. Every inch of it was packed full of stuff. He was crying as he drove away from the front door of my flat in Arden Street – which I remember thinking was unusual.
When looking for a comforting space, my memory keeps dragging me back to my last proper visit to Ireland 5 years ago during the Easter holidays. For a couple of the days it was just going to be the 2 of us as Moe was flying to Copenhagen for work. This made me a little nervous. Neil can famously be a little bit grumpy from time to time but the drugs and treatment were sadly making him ultra sensitive to noise, smells and things not being done the way he liked them. I opened and shut doors in the house wearing kid gloves and listened to him sagely in the car as he told me off for not using fourth gear at the correct time and reprimanded me on the dangers of crossing my hands when turning the steering wheel.
The day I return to was wet and miserable. Dreich, as we say in Scotland. But Neil was more energetic that day and he suggested we watch a movie. His friend Boris had gifted him a copy of the film, Withnail and I. Neither of us has seen it in years. Good choice we both agreed. For those of you who know the film – a grimy bittersweet tale of 2 struggling actors in the 60s – it was as funny and downbeat as we both remembered. A perfect compliment to the grim weather outside. Neil said Withnail and Marwood’s slum living habits reminded him of my student flat. He had a point. We didn’t quaff the finest wines in humanity but we did scoff two very fine magnum ice creams that Moe had kindly left in the freezer for us. And we talked. We talked about student days, books, films, music and nonsense. And it was great. And for a few hours I forgot that there was anything wrong with him. From the angle I sat looking at him in the room – he didn’t even look ill.
Then he complained that he had perhaps eaten the magnum too quickly and wasn’t feeling too good. I watched uncomfortably as he slowly and stiffly arose from the couch. The spell was broken. But in my eyes he was still my big brother and still a god.
I feel unusual, I think we should go outside.
(Today marks 5 years since cancer took his life)
“All of the programmes featured in this publication by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning share valuable experiences and lessons. They reflect a view of effective learning families whereby each child is a member of a family, and within a learning family every member is a lifelong learner. Among disadvantaged families and communities in particular, a family literacy and learning approach is more likely to break the intergenerational cycle of low education and literacy skills..” (Elfert and Hanermann 2014)
This report presents findings from a study of family literacy programmes in England carried out by the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) between July 2013 and May 2015. This mixed-methods study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and explored: 1) the impact of school-based family literacy programmes on young children’s progress in reading and writing; and 2) how parents translate and implement what they learn in these classes into the home literacy environment. This study provides evidence that after attending family literacy sessions children improve their literacy skills and there are positive changes in the home literacy environment.
“I can still remember the best piece of advice I was offered while I was at school – be the best you can be and do what will make you happy.
The advice came from my sister who was a maths teacher.
She supported me throughout school not just in her subject, but also in developing study skills and what I now understand to be the fundamental principles of a learning or continuous improvement cycle.
Her support had a huge impact on me, helping me to develop my knowledge, skills and confidence.
It challenged my thinking on what motivated me and what I wanted to do with my life.
It’s more than 20 years since my sister said those words to me, but my experience reflects how good careers advice can open young people’s eyes to the opportunities and possibilities of their future.
The work of SDS careers advisers is having a similar long-lasting impact on young people across Scotland day-in and day-out.
Now, I’m lucky enough to be part of the team at SDS working to extend the reach of our careers services in schools to offer further support for younger pupils, their teachers and parents.
This expansion will allow us to reach younger pupils, especially at big transition points such as choosing subjects, or at the move from primary to secondary school.
It will help ensure the choices they make about their future are informed, and based on their skills, interests and abilities alone.
What to expect
- hold group sessions at primary 7 transition or early in S1 to support individuals during this key transition phase; and with pupils in S2 and S3, aligned with arrangements for making subject choices
- offer one-to-one interviews with pupils at subject choices time and offer their parent/ carer and/or teacher to be involved during this one-to-one or at another suitable time
- working closely with schools to identify and agree the delivery of enhanced support to develop career management skills (CMS) to those S3 pupils who need it most, on a one-to-one basis. Follow-up group activity can also be held as agreed
That’s in addition to what’s already in secondary schools which sees SDS advisers:
- hold group sessions during the senior phase (S4-S6) using interactive activities to continue to develop pupils’ CMS
- offer one-to-one coaching for those pupils in the senior phase who need it most to support their decision making and progression
- hold drop-in clinics for all young people from S1-S6
- be available at parents’ events
Testing is also continuing on our new career education tools and resources for primary 5 to 7 teachers and pupils, which will be available in August.
These will be accessed through our award-winning career information and advice web service, My World of Work, which also has specific advice and support for parents and carers.
Tried and tested
The changes support delivery of the Career Education Standard and the outcomes of Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, as well as complementing a wide range of other SDS projects such as Foundation Apprenticeships and Improving Gender Balance Scotland.
Annual discussions between SDS and individual secondary schools on the SDS School Partnership Agreement are underway. These discussions enable us to collaborate on how we align and integrate SDS services to compliment the curriculum activities already in place to develop pupils’ knowledge of the world of work and career pathways.
The partnership agreements ensure we can shape how SDS resources are best used to match each school’s strengths, needs and local circumstances.
35 schools in 12 local authorities worked with us across the 2015/16 academic year to be ‘early demonstrators’ for the extended offer. This has enabled us to evaluate the service offer in practice and develop it further in advance its introduction in all other schools across the 2016/17 academic year.
Young people, teachers and SDS staff were an integral part of the process of developing the Career Education Standard and our expanded careers services offer; our work with them will continue to help us understand how we can improve the service further.
We’ve also developed CLPL modules for teachers along with Education Scotland. The first, an introduction and overview of the Career Education Standard, is already online. Three more will be added soon on Career Management Skills, labour market information and My World of Work.
We all want young people to be able to go on to successful and fulfilling careers, and I look forward to the part SDS can play in supporting them to get there.”
Design Engineer Construct!® has now been formally recognised in Scotland thanks to the key support of the Chartered Institute of Building, and is already piloting in Drummond High School in Edinburgh, Garnock Academy in Kilbirnie, and St Joseph’s Academy in Kilmarnock where student take up and attitude has been impressive.
Comprising an introductory and intermediate programme of study, DEC! has been credit rated onto the SCQF by SQA’s Credit Rating Service at SCQF Levels 4 and 6, both carrying 16 credits. SCQF levels 4 and 6 correspond to level 2 and 4 on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).
DEC! offers young people numerous opportunities to access a wide variety of career pathways, thanks especially to the innovative ‘Adopt a School’ industry partnership scheme that brings professionals into the classroom to support teachers in educating the future of construction and changing the lives of young people. A wrap around teacher training programme is the icing on the cake.
Find out more here.
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The decision was taken that from September 2015 digital literacy would replace IT as an essential skill along with employability skills, communication and application of number. Essential Skills is a compulsory element for anyone studying towards an apprenticeship or foundation learning programme in Wales.
- Digital responsibility
- Digital information literacy
- Digital productivity
- Digital collaboration
- Digital creativity
- Digital learning
The Report presents results from the work of the expert group set up under the European Union Work Plan for Youth for 2014-2015.
The findings detail the role of youth work and its specific contribution to addressing the challenges young people face, in particular the transition from education to employment. The report seeks to make employers, Public Employment Services and policy-makers aware of the crucial role youth work can play – either as a lead agency or in partnership with others – in supporting the employment and employability of young people. In this context, youth work is defined as ‘actions directed towards young people regarding activities where they take part voluntarily, designed for supporting their personal and social development through non-formal and informal learning’.