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Today I got talking with a colleague about progression in education.

This staff and I have seen young people, and in most cases young men, who have gone through 5 years of secondary education and then are told college will be similar but different. Yet, they come to another institute that puts down rules and gives a 9am-5pm timetable. In the end, it’s the same old boring routine they give up.

mental_health_cover_1Which is understandable. When they couldn’t be engaged across their earlier years, the chances of them grasping the significance of qualifications is low, to the point that you know they’re sleeping. To wake up and be doing the same thing for 7/8 years whilst you’re growing up to be an adult can make you question why you’re going through courses, essays and exams.

There are those who will have patience, persevere and work through the pressure. Then there are those that will reject the system their in and quit before the going gets tough. This has lead to getting involved with gangs, petty crimes, unemployment…in short, being lost.

It’s easy to dismiss a student from education an institute after 16 and say find work or study elsewhere. But there are clearly pieces that need to be picked up. The focus is usually on the academically talented rather than providing support for the less abled. By allowing them to be outcasts we are turning a blind eye to the inevitable future that lays ahead of  them; no good can ever come from poverty, youth and poor influence mixing together.

In the office my colleague and I discussed a few cases where we knew our students were involved with a gang or were taking drugs. Although we felt we had little influence on them, we took pleasure in saying that we saw small changes to them, and hoped it meant we were doing something right. It’s hard to tell if you’ve made the impact you hope to and are expected to. Even if I know a student will end up continuing as they are, lost and troubled, it gives me all the more reason to not give up on them!

You live in hope that one day, soon or what might be an eternity, they will one day wake up. And when they do, they’ll remember that one person who never gave up on them. Who never judged them, listened to them, tried to help them. For that, they might be grateful and have hope for themselves and in society.