ASTRA project has star billing at Ardrossan Academy
Reported by: Eilidh, Mhairi and Ellie.
A unique project based at a North Ayrshire school is helping young people with ASD connect with the community.
The North Ayrshire Secondary School Autism Base (ASTRA Base) at Ardrossan Academy benefits young people in many different ways according to Mrs Nikki O’Neill who is the acting PT in ASTRA Base.
She said: “It provides a safe space, a shelter from what can be an overwhelming environment for people with ASD.”
In Britain, there are 700,000 young people with ASD and 2.8 million families are affected by putting children with ASD in a mainstream school.
A total of 34% of the ASD youngsters say they don’t enjoy school because they get picked on and 63% of their parents don’t think their children should be in mainstream schools because of this.
That is why the project is underway at Ardrossan.
So, what happens in Ardrossan? A group of S6 pupils work with the ASD pupils so they have someone to talk to and trust in.
Pupils have individual timetables and learn in the Astra Base and mainstream classes, supported by teachers and teaching assistants. They are included in as much of the social life of the school as they feel comfortable with.
The ASTRA Base has been in the school for nearly a year and an ASD pupil in S3, Cameron said that since the base started his learning has improved and he now enjoys coming to school.
The pupil view is that more schools should have bases like ASTRA because there are a number of children with ASD who don’t have the support they desperately need.
Ardrossan Academy’s Outward
Reporters: Emma and Michaela
Some Ardrossan Academy pupils got the chance to go on a leadership course at the Loch Eil Outward Bound Centre.
The lucky 24 S2 pupils got the chance to go with 3 other schools from North Ayrshire: Auchenharvie Academy, Greenwood Academy & Irvine Royal Academy.
The course included a 4 night stay at the centre near Fort William where they would learn new life skills and vital survival tips.
The Loch Eil Outward Bound Centre is a trust set up to help young people go on specialised courses to help their leadership skills, teamwork skills and also their survival skills.
The pupils from Ardrossan Academy all achieved the John Muir Award at the end of the week as they used their new skills to do the same things which John Muir would have done.
The Outward Bound Trust was inspired by John Muir as he was the man who started national parks. John Muir now has an award to celebrate him and his love for the world.
The Pupils arrived at the centre on Monday 20th February 2017, once they arrived the got straight into activities.
One night of the course, the pupils went on an overnight expedition which included walking a few miles to a campsite where they would set up tents and camp overnight with only basic food and only a tent to shelter them.
The pupils also experienced many more exciting activities which involved team skills, communicating skills and also building resilience and not giving up.
Most of the pupils had a great time and would love the opportunity to go back.
Lots of the kids thought it would be impossible and really hard but once they got there they learned their team skills, survival tips, and they’re resilience.
It’s a great chance to just get out and explore new things.
When we interviewed some of the pupils from Ardrossan Academy, they said, “My teamwork skills have improved as I had to work with strangers” and “My confidence has improved, so in the future I am willing to take the risk”.
So in conclusion the kids loved the course and would all love to go back again and learned new skills.
How Enterprise Affects Employment
Unemployment in North Ayrshire is high, could Enterprise be the solution?
Reporters: Catriona, Caitlyn, Rachel and Danni
The percentage of unemployment in North Ayrshire is 11.6% that compared to the National average of 7.2% is
First, what is enterprise? - 'Enterprise education is enterprise capability supported by better financial capability and economic and business understanding.
Enterprise capability (includes) innovation, creativity, risk management and risk taking, a can-do attitude and the drive to make ideas happen.’ - Definition Collingwood college.
The question is could enterprise help lower unemployment rates, by introducing young people from more deprived areas into activities that they will be benefited by in the future?
When we interviewed the Education and youth employment head for North Ayrshire we asked her-
Q1- Have you seen a drop in unemployment?
A1- Yes, North Ayrshire is one of the highest rates in Scotland, but we are making progress, North Ayrshire is good at helping school leavers.
Q2- Does the council support people who are unemployed. What do they do to help?
A2- yes, they do they have training programs- sector based. They teach unemployed people how to write a CV and the council works with other agencies.
Q3- does enterprise help in the world of work?
A3- Yes, absolutely.
Every person that we interviewed about enterprise agreed that it is important and would be helpful to any young person if they decided to take Part.
Each teacher that we interviewed agreed that they did not get those opportunities when they were younger.
So based on our interviews it is clear to us that enterprise could help our unemployment rates in the future.
We interviewed 4 people, with 4 different viewpoints. We interviewed, our pastoral support teacher- Mrs Mayes, Head of Education and youth for North Ayrshire, Mrs Cook, our schools developing the young work force representative and science teacher, Mr Bell and Technological studies teacher, Mr Binns.
They are all important members of our school and community and we enjoyed listening to their viewpoint of Enterprise.
We also did a survey for the pupils in second year. The results are as followed:
Q1.Do you know what enterprise is?
A-The majority of people said no, but there were one or two who said yes.
Q2- Do you think there is enough opportunities regarding enterprise?
A-Again the majority of the classes said no.
Q3. Would you like more enterprise opportunities in the school?
A-The classes we asked majority said yes.
Q4. Do you think enterprise helps in the world of work?
A-The classes we asked were tied between yes and no.
Overall the pupils in our school do not have a good understanding of enterprise, but they think having more opportunities involving enterprise, would benefit them now, and in the world of work.
This is a positive and should be taken on board as the pupils think it will be beneficial.
If the Arran ferry goes we’re sunk
Reporters: Sophie, Cameron, Abigayle, Matthew, Ben and Matthew
ARDROSSAN business bosses today said that losing the Arran Ferry to Troon would have a serious impact on the town.
Retail, restaurant and tourism chiefs all predicted that their turnover would drop dramatically.
They also fear the impact of Brexit on their businesses.
Paul Blair, store manager of ASDA, which is the first shop after leaving the ferry, and one of the biggest retail outlets in the town, forecast: “Our turnover would drop.”
The superstore’s customers include tourists, Arran festival goers and locals. They also receive a number of calls every year from visitors asking if they can buy their food in advance of boarding the ferry.
He added: “It is difficult to give you an accurate figure but we can say that around five per cent of trade comes from Arran.”
Mr Anthony Cecchini, owner of a leading restaurant at the harbour, said that Brexit was also a concern long-term.
He added that he is already experiencing price pressure from imported goods, food drink and wine and that impact on his selling price.
The owner said: “I hope it will not put customers off.”
Mrs Laura Cook, who is the Education and Youth Employment Officer for North Ayrshire Council said that, they have a challenge over jobs.
She added: “That it is the council’s views that the ferry stays in Ardrossan and we are campaigning and wearing badges to show our support.”
The pupil view is that it is in North Ayrshire Council’s best interest to have the ferry remain in Ardrossan.
If the ferry moves to Troon the pupils feel that Ardrossan could lose some of our restaurants, small cafes and lots of tourist bookings.
It could also affect smaller businesses as they could lose a lot of customers and this will impact on staffing levels and pay.
Reporters: Chelsea, Keanne, Rebecca & Jodi.
North Ayrshire Council economic development and regeneration have developed the Youth Employment Strategy for North Ayrshire 2013 – 2020, working with Skills Development Scotland, business partners and The Chamber of Commerce to combat unemployment in the under 25s.
They are looking to create more jobs, encourage people to be more positive towards getting a job and being open minded. North Ayrshire Council are working closely with teachers in all their secondary schools who have remits for 16+ Pathways and Developing the Young Workforce to create opportunities and develop routes for young people leaving school into a positive destination.
Figures released last August following the latest round of school leavers showed that 3,600 people claimed job seekers allowance in North Ayrshire and of those, 925 are 18-24 years old. In North Ayrshire 72.2% of people are economically active. The council is working closely with 220 local companies to support their ambitions for growth and to create new jobs in the area. This is against the concerns of many small and medium size business in the area facing the threat of the Arran ferry moving to South Ayrshire and the unknown effects of Brexit.
Pupils in Ardrossan Academy spoke to Giovanni, a Youth Engagement lecturer from The Ayrshire College who works with groups in the Ardrossan Academy on a weekly basis. She said that unemployment is growing in Scotland and she would like to see more partnerships like this between school and college to help the youngsters. Mr Thomson, Business teacher in Ardrossan Academy, says the way out of poverty is through employment.
Local MP Patricia Gibson and MSP Kenneth Gibson are active in hosting employment fayres throughout North Ayrshire, requesting that employers have live jobs to offer and schools across Ayrshire are encouraged to bring along their students.
Unemployment is a difficult situation to be stuck in, North Ayrshire council continue to work with all sectors involved in trying to help people find the best pathway to employment.
Short video about
Mental Health in Scotland
Reported by: Olivia, Ramune, Kelly & Lewis
Mental Health in Scotland is a serious issue as one in ten young people, aged five to sixteen suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Around 12 per cent (1 in 8) Scots take anti-depressants every day. Other main drugs used to help mental health are only used by one and three per cent of the population.
Over 8,000 children aged under ten suffer from severe depression.
Ailsa Jack, the school nurse at Ardrossan Academy, said mental illnesses are caused by a number of reasons.
Contributing factors include social isolation, low self-esteem, a traumatic event in your life etc.
We also asked her what people should do if they think they are suffering from mental health issues.
She said: “See a professional first. That could be a GP, mental health nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist, or a counsellor.
They will signpost you to other services that may be able to help.”
The most common illnesses are depression and anxiety. Ailsa mentioned that eating disorders and post-traumatic stress are also common.
We asked Ailsa what we could do to help people who are suffering from this disorder and she said: “Listen to them. Show your support. Include them in activities and ask how you can help.”
Miss Lisa Chalmers, Headteacher of Ardrossan Academy, said: “The Health and Wellbeing award is proving to be a vital part of our curriculum".
“It is helping young people to become more emotionally literate. “I believe teachers, parents and pupils need to work together to improve the wellbeing of all young people.”
Our research discovered that more deprived areas have a higher rate of mental illness.
People living there are also three times more likely to spend time in hospital. The suicide rate is also more than three times higher in the most deprived areas.
The suicide rate is also three times higher for men than women but women are more likely to have personality disorders or mood disorders.
Our conclusion is that every day doctors are finding new ways to help and support the children with mental disorders.
We need to raise awareness on this topic so more people have a better understanding of mental issues.
Mental health is a big issue world-wide
Reporters: Bethan, Ainsley, Ben
A total of 450 million people worldwide are affected by mental health issues and one in four people in Scotland will experience mental health problem each year.
These figures means that we need to be aware of mental health and how we can offer help.
We had opportunity to talk with Elaine Floyd who helps with young people with mental health issues and she supports children in our school.
She said: “Low mood, low attendance at school, social withdrawals, suicidal thoughts, strong feelings of anger are some of the signs associated with mental health and we can help people by offering them support and someone to talk to.
You have to support them, talk to them and ask them how they feel and tell them where they can go for help and get more support.”
Support, she argues, will help make people more confident about their self and build their self-esteem.
Prejudice in Scotland
Reporters: Aimee, Erin, Jennifer and Kathryn
Prejudice – it’s a big word with a big meaning, but what does it mean for Scotland?
Sexism in Schools
With all the S2’s choosing their subjects for third year, we’ve been thinking about the prejudice behind subjects as some people believe that subjects are gender based, all girls need take home economics and all boys must take science.
We spoke to some of our S2 classmates to find their opinions. A total of 100 per cent of girls said they chose the subjects they wanted to, regardless of stereotypes and so did 100 per cent of boys.
This is a positive result as people our age can oversee these prejudice remarks. Further up the school, however, results are different.
We spoke to physics teacher Mr Bell about Higher classes and he said: “It depends on the science. Historically, more girls do biology and boys do physics.
Out of the 32 pupils taking higher physics, five of them are girls and the 27 others are all boys.” When we asked him why he thinks this happens, he replied: “It comes from influences at home and the media.” Along with this we found that boys have a negative opinion about the textile side of home economics, viewing it as a “female subject”, but the cooking side of things is very equal, according to both of our home economics teachers.
We also talked to two of our guidance teachers who are in charge of helping students pick their subjects from S2 – S5.
Mr Carr said he thought it was not an issue anymore, but Miss Colville stated: “Yes, though not as much as you would think. It’s still something to overcome.”
After this, we talked to the school nurse, Ms Jack. We asked her about her job as a nurse and whether she thought that the people around her are treated differently due to genders. She told us: “I have been verbally abused, but not because I’m a woman.” She also said: “I have never come across an issue such as males being treated differently because they’re a nurse or females being a doctor.”
We believe sexism and prejudice are still an issue in schools and workplaces, but not as much as it used to be. Things are looking up.
As more and more people in Scotland are identifying as LGBT+ (meaning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and more) we thought this would be a good thing to focus on. First, let us start with the legal stuff.
Civil partnerships for same-sex couples has been legal since 2005 and have been granted joint and step adoption since 2009.
On December 16, 2014 same-sex marriage became legal and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation since 2005.
In both 2015 and 2016 Scotland was recognized as the best country in Europe for LGBT+ legal equality, according to a leading website.
So this is all good? Everyone is equal. Well, legally yes, but laws don’t change people’s opinions, sadly.
As of 2013, 1.6 per cent (1025600000 people) of adults in the UK identify as LGB, and 1.3 per cent (68835 people) of adults in Scotland also identify as LGB.
People in many places still use words like “gay” and “lesbian” as insults.
This can cause distress for people who actually are gay, lesbian or bisexual as they think they will get bullied or viewed badly.
This is why our school as a LGBT+ group to support pupils who are struggling or want to help others.
We spoke to the leader of the group, Miss Devlin. She said: “The group has been together for about three years and I’ve only been in charge since last academic year.” We then asked her what the group has been doing recently and she said: “At the moment we’re looking to highlight gender equality around the school, so the group is working towards getting a timetable set up that will be for first and third year pupils and the group will be setting up activities for personal support classes.” She then talked about how the group are working towards getting a community worker attached to our school. We have also just got our Stonewall School Champions charter, which means I’m qualified to train other teachers on the correct terminology and definition of each gender.”
We believe this is a step in the right direction for our school but there is still a ways to go.
‘’Poor’’ and ‘’Rich’’ Areas
Another problem we have noticed, particularly in our school, is the idea that West Kilbride is a “posh” area and Ardrossan and Saltcoats are “poor” areas.
We found out that Glasgow has 56 of the 100 most deprived areas in Scotland where Edinburgh has six. We also found that Ardrossan is the poorest area in North Ayrshire.
We spoke to some S1 pupils about their experiences of this. Some of them believe that everyone is equal and there is no difference between the towns, but some of them believe that this is a problem and it should not be that way. One boy said: “Although I think it’s true I don’t believe it should be this way I think that people from poorer backgrounds just don’t get the same opportunities as posher families.” Another said that even though people in West Kilbride have nice things or houses we (being people from Ardrossan) do to.
One of the people from West Kilbride said that she has experienced this but she does not believe it herself. She says people from West Kilbride are just the same as people from Ardrossan and Saltcoats.
We do believe that this is a stereotype of West Kilbride vs Ardrossan and Saltcoats and it is something that needs to be worked on. All people from West Kilbride are not “posh” and “smart” and all people from Ardrossan and Saltcoats are not “poor” and “dumb”.
As a whole, we believe that these areas need to be changed and eradicated. These are problems affecting all ages in Ayrshire, Scotland, the UK, Europe and all over the world today. Though improvement has been made, there is still a long way to go.
Restorative Practice: The Facts
Reporters: Danielle, Abbie and Rosie
Restorative practice comes from restorative justice which tends to be used in the juvenile justice system.
Restorative practice is when rather than penalizing someone they bring victim and harmer together to resolve conflict.
Mrs Futamata at Ardrossan Academy said it’s about “providing the victim with the opportunity to ask questions of the harmer”. She also said that restorative practice is used whenever there is a conflict between two or three people and that it works at different levels e.g. pupil/parent/teacher. Mrs Futamata said: “We use restorative practice instead of an exclusion but if it doesn’t work it can lead to further consequences.”
For this reason they must ensure that all parties are open to trying to make it work or it will fail.
Some benefits of restorative practice are that it gives the person harmed the chance to voice their opinion and the person who has done the harming the chance to reflect and see another point of view. Another point of view is that restorative practice has a more nurturing approach which some pupils react better to.
Restorative practice can work for everyone because it is all about building trusting relationships which helps with pupil wellbeing and is better in the long run.
We asked Mrs Futamata how it can be implemented in schools. she said that it can be hard to implement because teachers are at different stages in their careers.
At Ardrossan Academy three members of staff are trained and others are being trained on in-service days/nurture days. There are also putting into place a Promoting Positive Relationships policy for all staff to follow.
So far there has been a 100 per cent success rate and the reason for this is that they identify if it will or won’t work before they try. Everyone needs to be committed.
Out of all the schools in North Ayrshire 41 per cent use restorative practice. Due to 19 per cent of people in North Ayrshire suffering from mental health issues, Restorative Practice is important because it works with people with mental health issues.
In North Ayrshire 68 per cent of teachers are trained. Mrs King, a guidance teacher at Ardrossan Academy, was asked if restorative practice was more effective in the long-term. She replied: “Yes, restorative practice is more effective as it is built on relationships and trust with young people because it is safe and can lead to making positive life choices.”
We also asked her if she believed that restorative practice helps with pupil wellbeing and she said “Absolutely, as it helps to improve pupil confidence and trust in the adults and teachers around them.”
We also asked Mrs King if restorative practice can work for people with mental health issues and she said: “Yes, it can work for everyone because the basis of this is about building trusting relationships with pupils and staff.”
In conclusion, we think this is a very good thing to have in schools because it is useful for a lot of people and situations that can occur.
Our conclusion is think that schools should start implementing it due to how useful it is and the fact it can be used even if a pupil has mental health issues. We are glad this is at Ardrossan Academy but wish it could be everywhere.
Reporters: Chelsea, Kaylee, Rachel, Eilidh, Maisie and Jordan
Football is sport, Religion is not!!!
Sectarianism is getting worse in Scotland, but research has proven it is not all down to religion.
Football is becoming more of the problem.
It is more of a problem in the West of Scotland than anywhere else north of the Border and it isn’t all to do with religion.
In the West of Scotland, communities are focused on football teams and this has led to bullying and anti-Sectarian behaviour because of the religious affiliations of football teams.
We as a Scottish school, are trying to prevent this from happening. We spoke to Jamie, an education officer from Nil by Mouth, Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity.
Jamie told us what he thinks of when he hears the word sectarianism. He thinks of big football teams, particularly Rangers and Celtic, but also he thinks of the Catholic or Protestant, Republican or Loyalist side of it.
He thinks it happens because of history. Religious differences first began in the UK in the 1500s and the 1600s, long before the Irish immigration in the 1800s and Rangers and Celtic football clubs.
Research has shown that sectarianism has always been present in our society, even before the Reformation of the 1500s, as history is filled with stories of certain races and religions being persecuted.
To prevent sectarianism from continuing to grow, Nil by Mouth visited work places and schools. They have also included the Scottish Government and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and Scottish Football Association (SFA) in their work.
Since 2003 there have been over 7,500 arrests for sectarian offence in Scotland alone which shows how big an issue it is and that something needs to be done.
Jamie said: “Everyone knows what racism is, but less people know what sectarianism is. Keep discussing it.”
Researching this has made us as pupils more determined to spread the word and stop sectarianism.
Local business fears over Brexit
Reporters: Chloe, Holly, Nicole, Mia, Abbie and Holly
On June 23 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union and now many people and businesses are trying to come to terms with the decision which is now starting to have an impact.
We conducted a small survey and Brexit is one of the biggest fears for businesses in our area.
The impact is not just local. UK businesses are having to alter their business plans. Companies and small businesses are currently exploring new ways to operate.
Brexit can go downhill or uphill for us. If we go downhill jobs and employment rates will too. If we go uphill money, jobs and employment rates could increase.
The issue is particularly critical for your people as 27 per cent of under-25’s can’t get jobs.
A lot of local businesses have already shut down. We as a community need to start improving on our employment rate.
We asked local businesswomen for their views.
Margo owns a garage near out school and it is one of the first petrol stations after leaving the Arran Ferry harbour.
She fears that Brexit will affect her business and other businesses as well. The prices of food and drink and other items will go up, she fears.
On another local issue, the businesswoman also thought that the Arran Ferry moving to Troon will affect the whole of Ayrshire and Ardrossan in particular. Everyone, she argued, will suffer.
She is not alone in her view. We also asked local restaurant Cecchinis what they think about Brexit.
They fear that price will rise with food and drinks becoming more expensive.
Our view is that as a community we should all be trying to help each other.