A media production lecturer at Queen Margaret University has created a new film highlighting the experiences of young people who have been through the care system.
The short film focuses on their experiences of education whilst being in care. It also offers helpful advice to teachers in dealing with care experienced pupils.
The film ‘How to make a difference’ presents an honest and very personal account of young people’s issues during their schooling. Pupils discuss some hard hitting subjects including bullying, teenage pregnancy and isolation. It also highlights the positive impact that teachers can have on people’s lives – while they are in school and beyond.
QMU’s filmmaker, Graham Drysdale, volunteered to work with the East Lothian Champions Board - a group of care-experienced young people who meet once a week in Musselburgh.
He said: “It’s heart-breaking to know there are 15,000 kids in care in Scotland. The issue of support for young people in the care system is something that is very close to my heart and I wanted to use my professional skills to give these young people a voice.
“I was struck by the eloquent way in which the young people explained their situations and offered advice as to how teachers can communicate and support people with lived care experience.”
“I was very moved by their stories and it was insightful to hear about both their negative and positive experiences of education.
“I learned mostly that young people just want teachers to spend time with them - finding out about their lives and understanding them. People had very different experiences of school – some found the teachers gave them love and understanding, which was lacking at home. For others, it was a very different story, with some suffering violence and exclusion from their peer group.
“I was so impressed by the support workers and how they skilfully engaged the young people. I’m also grateful to the young people who took part in the film for their courage and insights.”
One of the young people involved in the project said: “It helps teachers so they can deal with situations properly and not be discriminating against care-experienced young people.” Richard Butt, deputy principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “I’m proud Graham has created a powerful film that encourages wider awareness of the issues faced by care experienced children and young people during their education.”
‘How to make a difference’ will be screened before an audience of primary school teachers on the 25 March. The film will form part of a resource for all East Lothian teachers, which is being put together by the Champions Board.