Saturday, January 29, 2005

School mentors

I visited Westfield School in Yeovil on Thursday to present certificates to Year 11 Mentors. This seems to be an excellent scheme where older pupils work with younger ones on a personal or self organised group basis to support them, particularly with respect to bullying and similar circumstances.

The assembly was full. Paul Rose, the Year 7 year group leader, has been one of the leading lights in the Gifted and Talented groups which have done such fabulous work on Ham Hill over the years. He never seems to stop working.

I was really pleased to make the awards for 2 reasons. First I am a mentor with the Princes' Trust and have seen from that experience how just a little support from another person who is NOT judgmental can help someone beginning a new business of their own. But secondly my son's experience at St Christopher School in Letchworth was dramatic - when he transferred to St Christopher I met with the Head Teacher and discussed issues such as bullying, to be met with the reponse that ' the students do not allow bullying', and that self management for the overall good was a key feature of the excellent environment at the school that helped my son become much more confident, outgoing, and developed friendships that will persist.

I mentioned the St Christopher's Head's comments at Westfield and both Paul and I noticed quite a strong reaction around the room. He will follow up in discussions with the pupils and I will be interested to see the outcome.

Monday, January 24, 2005

now its a routine

This is the second of my entries, and hopefully this will become a routine - every week I hope to deliver some useful information about the District Council and its activities and also occasional comments about the world at large from my point of view.

Over the weekend of January 22nd and 23rd I attended the last of the 4 modules of the IDEA Leadership Academy. Pretty much all of the group turned up in Edinburgh for a couple of cold days in January - they must find it as useful as I do.

Scottish Parliament

The most interesting session for me was a visit to the new Scottish Parliament building which is a spectacular edifice. We went to discuss the Petitions Panel, where any individual can raise an issue that concerns them about pretty much any aspect of services and policies in Scotland. The process seems to be both very accessible through the Petitions Office or directly into a discussion group on the Net; petitioners are heard by a panel of MSPs and there have been enough successes for the process to have great validity.

I can't help thinking something of this type would be useful in the English system. Perhaps the Regional Assembly could offer this wide ranging public legitimacy as well as its forum responsibility. I will be getting in touch with the SWRA to discuss.