Rialto Youth Project is committed to building links between community and school and fostering an ethos of school attendance. We believe in the values of education as a core conviction. We believe fundamentally in the right of children and young people to a good education including opportunities to progress to college. We encourage young people to participate and achieve within the education system to the best of their ability.
We have a history of supporting children and young people within both formal and informal education. In the 1980s our main aim was supporting young people to complete second level school. That challenge arose from the long standing disadvantage and oppression that young people face in an unequal society. In an Irish context, educational disadvantage is defined as:
The impediment to education arising from social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from education in schools. Education Act, 1998.
In 2006 The Atlantic Philanthropies supported Rialto Youth Project to develop an initiative called Rialto Learning Community (RLC). One of the aims of RLC was to conduct research with young people and local schools. One finding that emerged for 2009 was that 49% of young people said they were not happy in school. Reasons included difficulty with paying attention, not feeling safe in school and not feeling able to ask about things that were bothering them. As a result, young people were getting into trouble in school and their academic performance was suffering.
Other elements of this research concentrated on the challenges for young people making the transition from primary to secondary school. This change can be difficult for some young people emotionally, socially and educationally. It also emerged that young people’s literacy suffers during the transition to secondary school, with literacy reports showing that some of the young people from Rialto were 2.3 years below the reading age they should have been at.
With these findings in mind, we have developed a Community School Strategy between Rialto Youth Project, parents and local schools to support young people with their school experience.
AIMS: YOUNG PEOPLE
Ensure that the young person feels supported throughout school through:
- supporting access, uptake, retention and participation of young people in formal education and other relevant educational programmes
- developing programmes and actions for young people through a process of needs assessment, Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and outcome-based programmes
- homework support and other programmes that support young people to engage better with their formal education
Build and sustain our relationship with local schools through:
- supporting the models of practice and providing the basis for cross learning and skill development for young people, as well as the strengthening of relationships between community and school
- enhancing the capacity of educational services to engage successfully with identified families
- facilitating and fostering positive communication that will reduce educational disadvantage or increase the educational attainment of the children/young people
- ensuring regular, structured contact with schools towards create four key opportunities:
- Rialto Youth Project, schools and families can work in triangulation to support the young person through their education
- schools gain a fuller understanding of family and young people’s circumstances
- homework clubs are made aware of curricular requirements and vice versa
- in-service training can be delivered to both communityand schools
Our embeddedness in the community means we are well placed to develop a strategy that will engage parents in an evolving continuum of structured support between home, school and community through:
- supporting parents to become active participants in their child’s education at school and at home
- supporting access, uptake, retention and participation of young people in formal education and other relevant educational programme through interventions with the parents
AIMS: RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
We continue to develop the strategy between community and schools through:
- research, review and development
- reporting from our Information Management System, records from schools
- external research conducted both in collaboration with RYP and national statistics
ACTIVITIES: YOUNG PEOPLE
For our Community School Strategy we support young people in a variety of ways.
- We complete and maintain a needs assessment through outcome-based programmes with the young person as the central focus
- Young people attend the homework clubs daily and are supported to develop their 6 basic skills and to complete their homework
- Each young person has a keyworker to support and advocate for them throughout their school experience
- From 5th class primary to 2nd year at secondary school an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is completed for the young person. The ILP maintains a focus on the young person and their support neeeds through this transitional period
- Young people are outreached to participate in social, emotional and educational programmes and projects
- Young people are exposed to arts-based programmes such as visual arts, dance and music and targeted to engage in them
- Young people are supported to access Third Level programmes, vocational programmes and training through information sharing, exposure programmes and arts-based programmes
- Keyworkers support young people to engage in alternative education initiatives specifically targeting those who areat risk of early school leaving
- Keyworkers advocate for young people and engage with them around the importance of having their voice heard both in one-to-one and group situations
In our Community School Strategy we support parents in a variety of ways. Specifically, we:
- engage and build relationships with targeted parents through outreach and meeting with them
- engage in conversations with parents regarding difficulties and challenges that they face in supporting their children’s education
- through information sharing, promote an awareness and understanding of the issues impacting on the educational needs of young people within their family unit
- support parents to engage at a one-to-one level regarding the education of their children, particularly by supporting and accompanying them to school meetings/ parent-teacher meetings
- encourage parents to negotiate communication with the schools
- advocate for parents and support them to express their concerns to the schools
- attend formally at meetings with teachers, parent’s associations and school boards
- involve ourselves informally through general support for the child’s learning, helping with homework and study, discussing progress in school, giving advice on subject options and programmes
Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), the Action Plan for Educational Inclusion was launched in May 2005 and remains the Department of Education and Skills policy instrument to address educational disadvantage. The action plan aims to achieve this through an integrated School Support Programme (SSP).
SSP interventions include:
- Home School Community Liaison Scheme (HSCL)
- School Completion programme (SCP)
- Support teachers project
- Giving children an Even Break
- Breaking the Cycle
- Disadvantaged area scheme
- Literacy and numeracy schemes
We engage with local schools where the majority have a DEIS status to develop a common approach between home, community and schools to support a young person. This approach develops strategies/ actions around homework support, information sharing, communication, the involvement of parents, managing behaviour and attitudes to young people.
Information is systematically shared between community, school and home through networks and communication protocols. These networks take 3 forms;
1. Principals’ Network
Meetings take place three times per year between Rialto Youth Project and principals of the local schools. Strategies are developed in relation to supporting young people’s education and health. This helps to ensure everyone is on the same page and working in collaboration.
2. Literacy Network
This involves meetings between Rialto Youth Project and schools within the local area.
Information is shared to ensure the literacy initiatives are implemented by the schools and Rialto Youth Project.
Information in relation to young people’s reading is shared, targets are set and school literacy initiatives supported in the community.
Homework clubs encourage literacy development by providing a literacy rich space and encourage young people to avail of this. Homework clubs foster a positive culture and confidence in relation to reading and go on trips to libraries, listen to children and young people reading, read to children and young people and encourage story time in the clubs.
Homework club leaders have specific roles within the schools as a literacy support worker where they go to the school each day and engage in listening to children reading in a one to one space.
We encourage parents to develop a literacy rich environment within their homes.
3. In-service Training
Homework clubs and schools meet regularly to discuss the school curriculum.
Homework club visit classrooms and chat with teachers and young people within their class room environment about their school experience.
Home School Liaisons. Schools deliver in-service training around their curriculum so that the homework club teams can adopt these approaches in the homework club to further support children and young people.
RYP deliver in-service training to schools around areas of youth and community development.