If you were the Director of Education and Children’s Services what would be your service’s spending priorities? This was just one question put to young people when they participated in a meeting with councillors and senior officers.
Suggestions put forward ranged from support for health and wellbeing in the post pandemic period, improving rural transport, and training for teachers on forest schools during the last meeting with the young people before the Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, March 17.
The young people in attendance, which included Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), Pupil Participation Forum and the Aberdeenshire Youth Council, also considered ways in which the council could generate additional income and how the council could facilitate more discussions on public services.
Income generation ideas included an option for wealthy council tax payers to tip local authority services they thought warranted additional money.
The young people suggested learning about council finances could be taught at school either in PSE or Modern Studies. This idea was positively received by councillors and head teachers in attendance.
Experiences were also sought on using the new travel concession card. A few young people said they had found it difficult and costly to apply for if their parent or carer didn’t have a driving license or passport for identification.
Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “It was a bittersweet occasion for me. This meeting was my last as chair of the Education and Children’s Services Committee before the local government election in May. It’s been an absolute passion of mine to seek out young people’s views so that they have a voice in shaping education not just in Aberdeenshire but across Scotland too. It’s been a privilege working with the young people involved. I hope my successor is equally passionate so that this important engagement continues.”
Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “It is very important that young people are given a say about education. They may be attending school today but tomorrow they will be students and the workforce. I am hopeful that what they learn by meeting councillors and senior officers will be put to good use later in life.”
For more information about youth participation in Aberdeenshire, visit: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/home/children-and-young-people/get-involved-youth-participation-and-engagement-in-aberdeenshire/
Any young person seeking mental health support can find a range of resources signposted on Aberdeenshire Council’s website. This includes free access to online tools Kooth and Togetherall, which are available to support anyone in Aberdeenshire aged 10 and up: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/community-care/living-independently/mental-health-wellbeing-services/mental-health-wellbeing-support/
You can also find all the details for local children and families teams, including an out of hours phone number, online: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/children-and-families/children-and-families-team-offices/