A VIEWPARK teenager says his life has been turned around through a ground-breaking scheme run by North Lanarkshire Council.
The Flexible Learning Initiative, jointly funded by learning and leisure services and North Lanarkshire’s Working, works in partnership with secondary schools to provide SQA maths, English, Asdan, Youth Achievement Award and a wide range of other learning experiences with colleges, training providers and local business.
Since the scheme began around five years ago, around 330 young people have been supported.
More important, the success rate is high: between 80 per cent and 85 per cent with the vast majority of young people progressing to further education or the Get Ready for Work initiative.
Among them is 16-year-old Conor Hendry (16) who had already found himself gaining attention from the police due to his aggressive behaviour.
He regularly truanted from school and when he did attend his behaviour was often impulsive, immature and disrespectful.
Since his referral to FLI Conor has worked hard to turn things around.
He said: “School didn’t suit me and I didn’t suit school. I hated it and missed classes all the time.
“Now, though, I’m enjoying learning. I travel a couple of days a week to Panther Community Centre in Wishaw for maths and English and I’ve spent time at the LAGTA training centre at Eurocentral.
“I’m waiting on results for my Standard Grades and have a place at Coatbridge College to study Motor Vehicle Technology - from there I could do an apprenticeship and become a motor mechanic.”
His skills have really come on at LAGTA and Conor’s team of three even won a recent schools’ wheel changing challenge.
Conor’s mum and dad Sue and Grant have seen a huge turnaround, while teaching staff have witnessed him develop respectful relationships and he even works with his community police group in his own time.
He said: “I have really benefited from my time on Flexible Learning. It’s made a huge difference in my life and I have a clear goal for my future.”
Although pupils remain on their school roll, they attend a range of specialist interventions designed to meet their individual needs, delivered on a locality basis to encourage access to provision of services in their local area.
This package may include vocational and college courses, transition and career planning, health and fitness activities, film-making, music production, care performing arts, hospitality and many others in response to demand.
Operations manager Peter McGregor said: “FLI certainly isn’t a soft learning option. The young people are given the chance but they have to work hard to succeed and, perhaps for the first time in their lives, they have to take responsibility.”