Sunday, 4 October 2009

Finding the right road maps

Potentially disengaged young people may not have either a ‘destination’ or a ‘road map’; they may not have an idea of where they want to get in their lives nor of how they would get there if they did. So two at first apparently contradictory phenomena which I’ve noticed are related and not surprising. One is that they may opt for the limited selection of things which have clear destinations and road maps, such as joining the Army (or, I wonder, early motherhood and pregnancy). The other is that they may fantasise about the most remote destinations the road map to which they’ve seen, of which becoming a celebrity whether in football or in another way is the most common.

This is one (of ten) ‘barriers’ to aspiration and achievement identified by BRMB, one of the consultants employed by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) to support the Inspiring Communities programme, the first samples of whose work were finally sent to us on Friday evening. This is not just of academic interest because the work which we need to do during October to refine our proposed programme will be measured partly against BRMB’s insights, so it is a relief to find that at least their national material is comprehensive and recognisable.

The challenge with this example is how far our draft plans share credible destinations and understandable road maps with young people in ways they recognise. Our hope would be that Whitgift Comprehensive’s existing engineering focus, the new partnership with the local Fire and Rescue Service, proposed game show style activities, and the intention to involve as role models those who have progressed into other forms of employment are indeed part of the appropriate response.

It has felt quite a struggle to getting this far. Fitting in with either CLG or different London based consultants’ limited capacity for extensive local consultation, jargon and then additional disclosure, fixed dates and then changes, announced timetables and then delays hasn’t felt like giving us a free run at getting stuck into refining our plans. But interesting and relevant material now seems to be emerging, so it may be a fascinating and constructive month ahead, albeit the timetable of those based in London and outside the educational sphere envisages crucial stages of agreement taking place here with those involved in education during Half Term.

Meanwhile, the picture is a final one from the walk at North Ormsby, where the quarry shows the chalk which lies deep beneath us here outcropping in the Lincolnshire Wolds a very short distance inland.

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