Type of Activity:
❑ Peer Mentoring
Relevant pillar: Education, Identifying the child’s inclinations and setting an individualized education plan
Relevant competence(s): Transversal Elements, Sense of Initiative & Entrepreneurship, Learning to Learn, Communication
Duration: 1-2 months for the initial personalised design. After this phase the process is ongoing as the educational path of the child in care needs constant adjustments.
Often children in care lack maturity or may not live in a scenery where goal setting is prioroty of their daily living setting and structure and do not have support from an external educational guide that addresses their specific needs.
When asked about their academic goal, their answer may be as broad as wanting to be a pilot or a soccer player when they grow up without knowing the steps of how to get there.
My PEP supports defining in a consistent and participatory manner the needed individual educational goals and objectives set together with each child in care and caregiver. Breaking down into concrete steps and SMART objectives, the PEP tool has the value of a reflective and practical support mechanism enhancing the chances for visible results and reaching educational objectives.
Some children in care (unaccompanied children who have recently arrived in the country of residence) may never have had access to education before/their educational level is very low compared to the new country where they reside.
My PEP supports defining in a consistent and participatory manner the needed individual educational goals and objectives set together with each child in care and caregiver. The PEP is a flexible tool so there is the option to focus on non-formal education for the first 6-12 months and then used as a foundation for applications into formal education settings; e.g. their initial educational outcomes may include cultural orientation and life skills appropriate to the age needs.
The absence of development and implementation on an inter-agency basis of a joint action plan focused on strengthening educational opportunities for children in care.
One suggestion is to use the network of the organisation to put in contact the children in care with the stakeholders according to the designed PEP. This way the power shifts from exclusively the legal guardian and caregivers to the care leaver and also encourages children in care to change their passive receiver status and have an active role over their educational future.
MY Personal Educational Plan, My PEP – what should it include?
Before implementing the PEP tool, as a caregiver have a clear understanding of:
1. Current attainment of previous education level against predicted and target progress set for each child.
2. The way the school is measuring progress/success and assess whether the child’s attainment is in line with national expectations for her/his age or below or above it.
4. Evidence of any effort to support the child being part in the whole school community and wider activities to promote their academic and social development.
Remember!!! Support a clear and shared understanding among all parties involved: child in care, Leaving Care Professional, Supervisor of the reception centre and Legal Guardian about schooling, training, apprenticeship and learning framework necessary to meet the child’s education needs, the steps of implementation and how these will be pursued.
Before Session 1: Ask the child to make a list of activities that s/he likes to do and a list of topics s/he likes to read or study. Then, ask him/her to set a goal for each of the items related to his present or future education. The aim: to encourage self-awareness before offering new information or development of new skills.
Topics of discussion: Why is my education important for my future? Different educational opportunities on local and national level; What are the opportunities for formal and non-formal education in the country I reside?
Group discussion: The aim of the first session is to have a group discussion on the relevance of education in one’s life and how education can benefit one’s holistic development.
Remember!!! No matter the type, the education is often associated with development and growth. Each step up the educational ladder is associated with improvements in health, both mental and physical, and later with employment, income, housing, family life, absence of addiction problems and lower risk of involvement with the criminal justice system (Jackson & Simon, 2005).
Overall there are two paths that are complimenting and supporting each other when a common final educational goal is set. The Formal educational path depends on the previous educational background and language barriers that children in care might have. As education does not always mean having to enroll for a bachelor or master’s degree, but could also mean learning a new skill or learning a new language. So it is essential to explain to care leavers that understanding the value of non-formal learning and how this learning can complement the formal education.
Recommendation for contextualized discussion: A group discussion on local and regional opportunities for trainings, workshops and apprenticeship and a list of local NGOs and VET providers offering these services would be beneficial in order to present the variety of improving knowledge and skills through non formal education.
Practical exercise: Finish the session by engaging in a practical activity in learning a new skill for 20 minutes to demonstrate the non-formal educational potential of a simple activity.
Make your own path, by mapping needs and corresponding goals
Group Discussion: How to DESIGN a Goal?
Setting a goal starts with knowing your strengths and challenges: Designing a goal is understanding your standpoint in terms of knowledge and abilities that one has gained until the present moment. Having a clear picture of acknowledged strengths and weaknesses will allow to schedule small steps to accomplish the envisioned goals.
From this perspective, the design of goals involves two different complementary processes:
A) The ability to Forward Projection & Reflection: Encourage the care leavers to “see” themselves in the future and being open to new ways of seeing the world. Discuss on the willingness to explore these possibilities followed by practical steps on how you can design a plan towards your goal (in strengths and weaknesses/challenges).
Remember!!! Design life goals is building on ideas connected to children’s passions and strengths but also something that they would like to learn.
B) The ability of using past judgment/understanding: encouraged to use past professional or technical training and experience, creativity, inductive reasoning, and intuitive processes that could lead to potential solutions or viable alternatives.
This experience may not be obviously related or easily identified. One way to start is to focus on how things are in the present and taking decisions according past positive experiences.
The questions that you can ask the care leavers are the following:
What does success look like to you?
What do you want to be different in 3 or 5 years?
What are your strengths and your weaknesses?
What are the obstacles you are facing to achieve your educational goals?
What can you control?
What are the options/alternatives you can come up with?
Tell me more…
Talk about time and space limitations and cultural and language restrictions for educational goals. Discuss creative ways of overcoming the envisioned challenge.
To support the Leaving Care Mentor/Professional to assess a PEP, see Annex 3, to support the caregivers in designing a relevant PEP, that will give some guidelines and points of reference to uphold the quality and consistency of every PEP.
Create my visual PEP (PEP template is proposed in Annex 2, nonetheless while the first part is essential for the educational path to be activated, the second part can be adjusted to the child’s needs and perspective)
My PEP is a creative process, were information, knowledge, abilities, passion, interests and inclinations are transformed and merged into a framework that unfolds the path for tangible results.
If the goals are discussed and agreed in session 1 and are clear and realistic, then certain steps must follow in order to see if the goal is achievable and then find proper ways of implementation.
When designing the PEP, it should always include:
- Strengths and achievements of the child in care
- Views of the child in care
- SMART educational targets
- Current and target attainment records
The idea of designing a PEP plan is built on 4 major aspects:
- Previous Education (Skills and Knowledge that the minor gained as far in terms of Languages, Educational background, life skills, etc.
- Level of progress? Measures of achievement? e.g. in relation to national curriculum and context, language skills and cultural differences and challenges.
- Opportunities offered in the host country (Formal & Non-Formal Education): public/private education, workshops, vocational trainings, internships, etc.
- What is needed to achieve his/her goal: examine the realistic elements and skills that someone must have in order to achieve the final goal.
The PEP with clear steps towards the final goal should follow combining all 4 above mentioned aspects.
Remember!!! The process of designing a plan is a repetitive but a nonlinear process meaning that the child uses the results to revise, challenge and improve his initial assumptions. If the goal is not achievable the child in care should be able to change it and/or adjust it accordingly.
5 Principles to follow when developing a PEP (to support the process of a qualitative PEP please see Annex 1, Info sheet and checklist for designing PEPs):
- The selection of the education choice should be grounded on indication that the educational setting can meet the expressed needs of the child and assist for maximum development.
- A successful PEP is the joint responsibility of the local caregiver, Leaving Care Mentor (if available), reception centre supervisor, legal Guardian, and teachers and educators involved in the process of formal and informal education, therefore the PEP should be linked to the general care plan or other specific plans.
- At all stages PEP design should involve the child (according to understanding and ability) and, when appropriate, the child’s parent and/or relevant family members.
- While it is central not to diminish or discredit the ambition of obtaining the status of a certain profession, the emphasis and the weight of the process should be recalibrated to design and forward project specific, tangible steps for how to accomplish that.
- Every PEP is a “living”, developing, comprehensive and continuing testimony and report of the child’s experience, progress and achievement. Therefore, the PEP records scheduled actions that the school and others will take to support the child to accomplish anticipated levels of progress to complete a proper variety of accepted credentials.