Why Scottish teens are taking housing lessons

News, Young Cab — By on November 4, 2015 11:07 am

Housing education imageThis report was produced for the Inside Housing Subscription by Mike Lloyd and features Musselburgh CAB’s Financial Capability Officer, Sarah Matthews.

Below is a section of this report, to read the full article click this link – Why Scottish teens are taking housing lessons ;

Scottish schools are being urged to educate pupils about the perils of homelessness . Mike Lloyd visits a secondary in the East Lothian town of Tranent, to find out how the lessons are taught – and with what success.

I am here in this classroom in Tranent, East Lothian, to sit in on a lesson on how to leave home safely, which is not an easy message to get across to young people.  Like most youngsters, the majority of these students take their housing for granted, and that can be a problem. When the reality kicks in for them it may be too late. But the 14 and 15-year-old pupils in this class seem genuinely interested.  As a service development officer in the East Lothian Council Community Housing Service, I used to give talks about housing and homelessness myself – but this morning I am watching as Sarah Matthews, from a nearby Citizens Advice Bureau, faces a double class of 40 agitated adolescents . She is braving their banter with an unflappable smile.

Teachers at the Ross High understand the problem very well. Fourteen years ago, pioneering housing education materials devised by the staff, pupils here won them an Inside Housing award. Some of those materials are being used still, to underpin today’s presentation – although it is now a multi-media event.

“If you’re on your own trying to find a house, it’s really hard, you can’t pay it all yourself.”

Erin, 15

Back in 2001, lessons highlighting housing issues were rare and met with some scepticism. Hard-headed council bean-counters wanted to know how the outcomes could be measured Even today , an attitude persists that no initiative is worth resourcing, if you cannot produce statistics to prove that it has worked.

Fortunately , wiser counsels have prevailed and since 2001 , 14,000 pupils in East Lothian schools have been taught about the pitfalls of the local housing market – and how to survive their first tenancy.

These lessons have a social ‘myth-busting’ function, as well Mr Wilson (Ross High school teacher) considers them vital to counter the misconceptions that can be generated, about why housing isn’t available, or who gets priority “Maybe they [pupils] have been looking at the media and learning that minority groups were getting all the housing, or that you just need to have a child to get a house,” he says.

Ms Matthews agrees that young people can have unrealistic expectations, especially about sustaining a place of their own, “just because they are not aware of everything that goes into a tenancy and what they need to do”.

Offering housing education lessons is not ·yet ·official government policy for Scotland’s schools, but it ties in well with the country’s push to reduce homelessness, as Scottish housing minister, Margaret Burgess, tells Inside Housing




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