Overcoming challenges that impact engagement at school

YouthLink Scotland’s Youth Work and Schools partnership programme aims to promote and expand the role of youth work in closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Two young people looking out over city landscape

In our blog today, we take a look at how YMCA Kirkcaldy’s In-Sync mentoring programme is working in local schools to help young people overcome challenges that are impacting their engagement with school.

The In-Sync programme is delivered by YMCA Kirkcaldy in Viewforth High School and its four feeder primary schools. Pupils in P4 through S7 are offered one-to-one mentoring with the goal of helping them develop self-awareness and self-confidence, as well as supporting them to make concrete progress toward attainable goals that will help them achieve their full potential in school and in their communities. This supports increased chances of progression into further learning or employment once they leave school – and it’s having positive results!

How did the school and youth work partnership happen?

Viewforth High School was looking for a way to support young people whose attainment was not meeting its potential. The school recognised that many of these pupils were facing personal challenges outside of academic schoolwork that were affecting their attendance and their engagement with lessons. Therefore, the school asked Kirkcaldy YMCA if they could develop a bespoke mentoring service that could focus on supporting young people to develop personal skills and positive self-image in order to help them re-engage with school.

The In-Sync programme is now well-established at Viewforth High School. It has expanded to work with P7 pupils in its four feeder primary schools. The mentoring team at YMCA Kirkcaldy is excited about the possibility of expanding to further secondary schools in the area in the next few years.

What was the impact?

Young people, in partnership with their mentors and with input from school staff, use “Personal Action Plans” to track their progress and reflect on their achievements. Monitoring success within these plans includes the use of a social competence evaluation administered once per term. Among the In-Sync programme’s 2017-2018 cohort, 100% of young people engaged improved on this evaluation’s measures of:

This is just one example of a successful partnership between schools and youth work organisations, demonstrating the positive outcomes for all involved. We look forward to sharing further case studies with you in the future and encourage you to get in touch if you’d like to share your own youth work and schools partnership story.