Education is very important in determining the outcome of a young person's future. It is the primary means through which social class movement is both restrained and facilitated—therefore pivotal in the success or failure of a young person's life.
Educational attainment is strongly linked with the odds of moving upward or downward on the social class ladder, which makes it critical in the disruption of low social mobility for millions of low-income families or young people with additional needs.
Poor social mobility is not solved by simply sending young people to mainstream or private schools and hoping for the best. A fixed, broad national curriculum devised and delivered for a mass audience is not suitable for everyone. We know through the current off-rolling crisis in the UK that thousands of young people do not fit neatly into a 'standardised system'. For a myriad of reasons, they simply do not thrive, and consequently their education suffers - which can lead to long-term inter-generational low social mobility and aspiration.
The Porcupine Programme is designed to disrupt this dispiriting cycle by focusing on young people (key stage 4 and 5) in mainstream education who are at risk of low educational attainment, and thus poor social mobility, and offering an intensive and immersive programme of personal empowerment and advancement to run alongside their everyday studies.
We work in partnership with educators from the outset to embed the latest advances in strengths-science and positive psychology into the learning experience, making it an enjoyable, enlightening and fruitful exercise for all those engaged in the programme.
It is a partnership which requires continuous dialogue and evaluation. The return on school time invested is rewarded by students who become personally connected to their potential with newfound belief and hope that a positive, secure future is achievable doing exactly what they are best at - if only they commit to it.
To ensure this momentum is not lost, we share the young person's personal strengths, skills, values and passions with the school and educators alongside their chosen career path. We offer realistic and effective suggestions on how schools can support these newfound aspirations through improved attainment and engagement.
Additionally, we have devised an innovative visual system to maximise strengths-based, value-led learning during lesson times. This simple system helps educators identify young people's unique strengths rapidly within a busy teaching environment, enabling them to acclimate their teaching style to ignite and inspire imagination and reduce deliberate interruptions to learning.
Parents and carers are also encouraged to support the programme both in school and at home. The Porcupine Collective actively encourages family support and with the young person’s consent will provide a condensed report of their child's unique strengths, skills, values and passions with suggestions on how to support their career-readiness action plan outside of school hours.
Young people vulnerable to exclusion
If a young person is at risk of permanent exclusion, the Porcupine Collective will work with schools, educators, parents and other stakeholders to create a bespoke programme which will combine restorative practice with the Porcupine Programme in an effort to provide a 'last chance' resolution.
This option offers restorative practice with a qualified restorative practitioner renowned for their transformational work in schools reducing exclusion rates, increasing attendance and improving achievement. This will run in conjunction with the Porcupine Programme; skilfully turning a negative situation into a positive experience and potentially life-changing opportunity.
How is all of this funded?
There is no cost to schools for our programme thanks to the amazing support of our funders, although there is limited availability.
Schools, parents and carers will be expected to support the programme by way of contributing to evaluation and providing feedback and testimonials for funders.
The programme requires a time commitment from schools in the form of a nominated representative to support the facilitation of the programme. They are also expected to provide a quiet and safe space for the coaching sessions which includes access to a computer. We expect the costs associated with these needs to be met by the school.
We also expect schools and parents to support the career readiness action plan as much as they possibly can. This may involve supporting a funding application or transporting a young person to a meeting.
A school or parent contacts The Porcupine Collective. A telephone conversation follows and an initial referral is taken. The referral is assessed against a set criterion which includes (but is not limited to); Key stage, education status, SEN, well-being, attendance and vulnerability to under-achievement.
The Director of Opportunity meets with the school and/or parents in person to discuss concerns and options (including the option of restorative practice). The Porcupine Collective present the Porcupine model and communicate logistics and expectations. Based on the information shared and the commitment from the school/parent/carer, the Porcupine Collective will decide whether to progress to a meeting with the young person.
If suitable, consent will be sought for the Director of Opportunity to meet with the young person to discuss the Porcupine Programme; how it will work and what it hopes to achieve. We will establish their consent and willingness to commit to the programme.
The Porcupine Collective will share its decision to progress with the programme or provide clear and concise reasons for why the programme will not achieve the expected outcomes for the young person.
Confirmation will be sent to the school, parent or carer to confirm a place on the programme. This will outline how the programme will be delivered, including the location, times and a specific schedule. We will liaise with schools in terms of materials, equipment, facilitation etc.
The Director of Opportunity will meet with the young person to introduce the Porcupine Programme and run through trial exercises, answer questions, introduce them to their coach and prepare them for the first coaching session. The first phase of evaluation will be completed.
The Porcupine Programme will commence with one hour coaching sessions, delivered weekly over 12 weeks. The young person will undertake exercises and coaching to explore strengths, skills, values and passions, and build self-belief in their unique talents and attributes.
A midpoint meeting will be arranged to evaluate the progress of the programme from the young person's, schools, parent's and Porcupine Collective's perspective.
The Programme will be refined (if necessary) and continued until its conclusion. The Young person will be provided with a personal pack containing all of the learning from the various exercises and coaching.
All of the information and learning will be analysed by the coach and accumulated into an action plan, which forms a 'living CV'. This outlines the practical steps required to achieve their ideal career based on their intrinsic strengths, skills, values and passions.
A referral will be made to the Career Readiness Programme which aims to help the young person achieve the practical steps contained within their action plan by facilitating opportunities within the community and workplace
The Director of Opportunity will feedback the outcomes of the Porcupine Programme and present suggestions on how the young person's strengths can be used to improve the learning experience within school and their overall educational attainment.
Final evaluation of the programme’s efficacy, including the young person's perceptions of the future, will be completed and the results recorded and shared.
Formal notification of the end of the programme will be sent with contact details and a summary of agreed actions by all parties involved.