Friday, 27 May 2011

Thug turns kids around with life skills mentoring course

Every day discussion forums on the internet, specialist groups and government departments debate the why’s and how’s of youth related crime in communities across the country.

Experts continually ponder over questions including “Has the knife carrying culture only developed over the last few years?” and “Why do so many young people demonstrate such poor communication skills?”

There is evidence that the fast paced development of technology has significantly changed the way in which we all communicate with each other. Young people have been a major driving force behind the many different ways we all use language on a day to day basis.

Many schools report that their pupils struggle to communicate using good english and the written language is going through a formidable transformation.

Anyway before I get on my soap box, let’s get back to the point of this article.

It is 1983, Kajagoogoo were at the top of the UK charts with “Too Shy” and Microsoft Word is launched to the World amongst a frenzy of excited confusion.

As a young person in the late 70’s / early 80’s you did not have the mountain of technology based gadgets kids have today. Facebook did not exist and TV only broadcast very basic programmes for a few hours a day. What’s more i seem to remember there was only three or four channels and not the hundreds available today.

If you were growing up then, you had a valid reason for blurting out the overused outburst of verbal discontent “I’m BORED”

As a result young people would find ingenious ways of keeping themselves amused. Many of these ideas were perfectly legal and had no negative affect on society, however similar to today there were a body of young people that stood on the pathway of trouble.

Having experienced a very difficult childhood i entered my teenage years angry, violent and looking for destructive ways to empty my fuel tank of negative energy.

I remember desperately trying to ascertain relationships with other young people that had a similar outlook on life as me. Whilst we never claimed to be a GANG, the activities we committed our time to and the way in which we conducted ourselves would today get us branded with such a title.

Having the physical build and skills to install fear into other human beings enabled me to quickly establish a reputation for being a THUG. Robbery, Bullying, Mugging and earning money for fighting was a major part of my weekly routine.

At the time, i remember having an unbelievable sense of contentment as the group of people i was hanging around with were expanding rapidly.

Similar to the Punk, Mods and Bikers movement, both my friends at the time and I felt that we were apart of something special.

knives, hammers, sticks and even snooker balls were used when fighting as these tools gave us the required advantage.

So, let’s address a question that continually crops up. “Has youth crime always existed?”

Of course it has...

We all live in a fast moving technological world where events are brought to our ears and eyes in a flash. With this explosion of information being thrown in every direction through hundreds of different mediums it is easy to appreciate that we all get to hear about many more incidents of youth related crime now than we have ever done before.

I was one of the lucky few in my own circle of disturbed and violent group, as by the age of 18 years of age i had met a young lady who transformed my opinion of life and how to live it. Over several years i was taught some valuable life skills including some simple coping strategies for dealing with my anger and the importance of knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Over the last 20 years i have dedicated my life to developing personal safety and life skills development courses for individuals that have either experienced a negative situation or to prepare people to avoid such a situation.

All of this work has accumulated in the development of the “Life Skills for Children” course.

A unique approach to providing simple, practical and realistic essential life skills to young people to increase their:

Personal Safety
Ability to reduce the chance of becoming a victim to BULLYING
Communication Skills
Understanding of the difference between RIGHT & WRONG

I now work regularly with young people that are either on the verge of being permanently excluded from schools or who have been placed within a PRU - Pupil Referral Unit

I use my childhood and teenage experiences to engage with young people and demonstrate that the path to a successful and content life cannot be found with their current mental approach and physical activities.

Education is the key to turning these kids around.

I am conducting an online poll to ascertain a mountain of support to approach government.
I want to make providing our kids with the right life skills a major issue so that we can remove some of the red tape that is so clearly stopping this important education being passed onto the  kids that need it.

Please assist me by visiting:

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Government Does Not Care About The Personal Safety Of Our Kids

Life Skills for Children from Milton Keynes has claimed that the Government do not care about the personal safety of our kids.

Recent statistics reveal the shocking facts, that knife attacks are committed every 24 minutes, anti social behaviour is rife within our communities and youth related crime is growing out of control. Fears around personal safety and bullying are elevated, and in a bid to protect themselves young people everywhere are resorting to carrying weapons.

Over the last five years, personal safety expert Gary Payne has developed and successfully piloted a non-physical personal safety and communications programme for young people from 5 – 16yrs.

“Whilst it is important to understand your reading, writing, and maths, isn’t it just as important, if not more so today, to understand the difference between right and wrong?, to understand how to take care of yourself physically, and mentally, to understand the benefits of good health and that fundamental skill called RESPECT, to know how to set goals and go after them so that you do not just spend your life shunting from a poor school career to an unfulfilled working life, to an early grave” said Gary.

The Government has spent millions of pounds on post traumatic services that assist young people after an incident(s) and whilst many of these groups provide a fantastic service, shouldn’t we be concentrating on preventative measures that in the long term will save millions upon millions of pounds.

“During the development phase of the programme we constantly approached various departments within the Government to establish a National pilot to provide children with some FREE training in Life Skills” said Gary Payne. “We have been pushed from department to department and have been ignored by local MP’s, ministers such as Beverley Hughes, Ed Balls, Jim Knight and Kevin Brennan and so called development officers within departments such as Children’s, Schools and Families”.

Life Skills contributes to over 27 Government initiatives attached to education, healthy schools and sport and yet whilst the Government ignored us on numerous occasions, schools in Luton and Wing were more than happy to allow us to conduct a Life Skills for Children pilot, which positively affected the lives of over 2000 young people and their families.

Gary said “the Life Skills for Children programme has received support from thousands of people through the web site and numerous charities like MAMAA (Mothers Against Murder and Aggression) who work with over 600 hundred families that have lost members of their family to violent crime.

It is criminal that there is so much bureaucracy stopping our kids from getting the education they need.
Preventative Measures Training is required to change the next generation of young people

It is about time the people of this country stand together and demand positive change. There are groups around the country that provide a great preventative measures service to young people who constantly get ignored or caught up in the murky bureaucracy that is Government. These ministers stand in front of the Nations media painting a very rosy picture of what the Government is doing and yet most of them spend their time avoiding meeting people that can activate positive change or spend their time promoting the message that the Government does not endorse or financially support any group.

Due to this lack of clear vision from the Government, society is paying the price and the people of this country have had enough. A recent survey conducted by Barnardo’s highlighted the ill feeling that is unfortunately growing towards the youth of this country. It is a great concern that this will continue if change is not activated now, today, not in nine months when the Government decide to have a meeting.

We cannot rely on the unprofessional indecisive people in the Government to make the changes. Teachers, sports coaches and any person that educates young people need to stand up and make change happen.

Life Skills for Children is a Milton Keynes based company that is ready to deploy the programme to every child in the country through schools, sports and community groups. We have the opportunity to educate young people everywhere from as little as £1.25 per child.

The Life Skills for Children team are calling for the people of this country to stand together and send an overriding message to the Government. Make the process of education a simple one. We have the preventative measures programmes to make positive change and we are not willing to put up with any more delays due to the policies of this Government.

If the Government do not care for the personal safety of our kids, then we have to turn to UK PLC for support. With the economy in such a poor state, big companies are adjusting their spending habits; however let’s invest in the next generation by giving them the skills to become positive members of our communities.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) told of receiving death threats from families, being groped by students and police having to be called as a parent rampaged around a school. One woman reported being trapped in an office by a father and older brother of a pupil who were angry that she had confiscated his gold trainers until the end of the day.

In a survey by the union – which this week will debate a motion at its conference calling for parents of disruptive pupils to see their child benefit docked – 64 staff said they had been physically harmed by a student, and more than a fifth of the 1,000 questioned said they had developed mental health problems.

Nearly 40% of teachers said they had considered leaving the profession because of bad behaviour.

Physical attacks – on other children as well as teachers – were far more common in primary schools, where half of staff reported pupils being physically aggressive, compared with 20% in secondaries.

Nearly a quarter of staff felt they did not get enough support from parents when raising concerns about a child's behaviour. Another proposal set to be debated at the ATL's conference is Manchester is for mothers and fathers to attend parenting classes to help them deal with badly behaved children.

A head of department at a secondary in Leicestershire told of being physically sick every morning at the thought of going to work "and wondering whether my teeth were going to get knocked out". On two occasions students had gone to attack another pupil but had ended up hitting the teacher in their rage, and twice the member of staff had been sexually assaulted.

"I feel that we get no support from government – they have no idea of the reality of inner-city schools," the ATL member said.

At a primary school in Essex, a head of department said: "I have had a threat to my life from a parent because I told a child to complete their homework during part of their golden time [fun activities]. It was threatened that they and their family would kill me when I came to or from school."

The teacher had to be transported to and from school every day by the head, and the school went to court to get an injunction banning the parent from the premises.

A Surrey head of department said: "In the past year I have been involved with incidents of smoking, drug abuse, assault, pupils 'losing it' and being out of control, very strong and repeated verbal abuse to staff and management, use of mobile phones in class, cyberbullying ... Such incidents are increasing, and taking away teacher time from the main purpose of our jobs, ie teaching."

And one primary school teacher told the union students' behaviour had made them ill, adding: "I have 15 years until retirement, but would leave tomorrow if I could."

The survey of teachers, lecturers, support staff and school leaders in state and independent schools and colleges across the UK found that almost half thought behaviour in the classroom had got worse over the past two years. Half had suffered verbal attacks, and nearly 40% intimidation. Pushing and shoving was the most common aggressive behaviour, with punches being thrown in half of incidents.

The ATL's general secretary, Mary Bousted, said: "It is totally unacceptable that poor student behaviour continues to be such a widespread problem in schools and colleges, and shocking that over a third of staff have experienced aggression from students' parents or guardians.

"Staff should not be subjected to violent behaviour by either students or parents. Parents should be acting as good role models by supporting staff and helping them create a more positive learning environment for their children.

"Schools cannot be expected to solve the problems of society. However, it is encouraging that most schools seem to have clear behaviour policies, and offer support to manage poor behaviour. The most effective learning happens when teachers and parents work together to help children to learn to behave well."

The schools minister,  said the government would announce measures to improve behaviour this week. According to the inspectorate, Ofsted, behaviour was a significant concern in only 2% of secondary schools, he added.

"Good behaviour and an atmosphere of respect should be the norm in all schools," he said. "We have given headteachers clear legal powers to enforce discipline which means they can get tough on poor behaviour without fear of being taken to court.""

"Parents have also been made to take their responsibilities seriously."

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Life Skills mentoring course, is turning kids around

With so many young people demonstrating a complete lack of respect towards their
teachers and peers it was only a matter of time before communities across the country
would start experiencing increased levels of anti-social behaviour.

A dedicated group of professionals from teaching, policing and military backgrounds

decided to get together to design a mentoring course where these children would be
exposed to some of the important life skills that will improve their chances of becoming
successful members of their communities.

The Life Skills mentoring course is designed to develop such skills as: - vision, confidence,

motivation, communication, action, creativity, strategy, respect and trust.

Delivered over a flexible time frame of between 6 - 10 sessions, young people experience

a tough, direct, no-nonsense approach to life skills development where no excuses can be
used to bypass any of the material.

Key messages are continually driven into the students throughout the course with the

objective of providing the candidates with a clear understanding of what is expected of
them both at school and home.

In those situations where the child comes from an environment which is not supportive of

the correct life skills due the parents or guardians either not caring or understanding the
importance of this education, parental classes are provided.

The mentoring course was successfully delivered to a group of difficult children within

Bedford.  “The life Skills Project proved to be an invaluable intervention program for some
of the year 8 pupils at my school. Over a period of 10 weeks Gary worked with a group of
pupils who for varied reasons had become disengaged with school. Some of this group
had also become involved in some undesirable and often dangerous behaviour both in
and out of school”.

“Working on areas such as self esteem, attitude, morals, conflict resolution and target

setting I witnessed in the majority of pupils a significant positive change in both their
attitude to school and towards their fellow pupils and teaching staff. Feedback from
teaching staff and parents was extremely positive which is not surprising considering none
of these pupils have been in trouble since”.
said Darren Freeman - Head of Science & Key Stage 3

“This has been one of the most useful, valuable experiences of his time at Lincroft and

maybe his school life in its entirety. In such a short time S has gained confidence, realised
areas he needs to work on and it’s made him feel worthwhile again”

“We feel it’s a truly wonderful thing that Gary and your school have done to help the

children at this vital time in their development. I was at the end of my tether”
said a parent of a child that experienced the course.

As a direct result of the successful courses that have been delivered in several

Bedfordshire schools, numerous local authorities are looking into the possibility of running
the mentoring course within their areas.

The life skills team are calling upon the business community to support the mentoring

course as anti-social behaviour costs local businesses millions of pounds each year.

For further information on the Life Skills Mentoring course visit:
It is no wonder so many of our kids are coming of the rails. Proliferation of drugs, under
age drinking, graffiti, kids being stabbed in schools. How has it got to this point
If you look at it logically, it is no surprise that our children are coming off the rails. In many
families and schools the basics of respect of yourself and for others, and self-discipline are
either non-existent or are buried under the fast food instant gratification lifestyle we are
exposed to.

Let’s face it, as a kid you are told what to do, how to do it, and when. No-one has the time

to deal with our kids issues. As parents we often don’t have the time to spend really
teaching our kids the life-skills they need. At school, teachers are wading waist deep in
bureaucracy and state imposed politically correct standards that leave them without the
time or clout to pass on the pearls of knowledge that could have a real, lasting impact on
the children.

‘Leaders are not born they are created’

Whilst it is important to understand your reading, writing, and maths, isn’t it just as

important, if not more so today, to understand the difference between right and wrong? To
understand how to take care of yourself physically, and mentally, to understand the
benefits of good health and fitness, to know how to set goals and go after them so that you
do not just spend your life shunting from a poor school career to an unfulfilled working life,
to an early grave.

We have a growing number of young people that find it difficult to interact with other

human beings, and are scared of leaving the safety of their homes in fear of a violent
confrontation. Our children are telling us the reason they fill the need to carry knives is for
their own protection.

“Life Skills for Children” have the answer. EDUCATION

Life Skills for Children consists of five one hour sessions, and is designed to develop such

skills as: - vision, confidence, motivation, communication, action, creativity, strategy,
courage and trust.

“This is a non-physical approach to personal safety, involving awareness skills and

protective behaviours,”
said Gary Payne, the programme’s founder. “An increasing number
of children are being bullied at some point in their life, and Life Skills for Children
teaches them the skills they need to counteract this. It also allows children to grasp an
understanding of social responsibility and how to positively interact with others. It has
improved communication amongst students, their teachers and their parents.”

The programme also tackles knife awareness and is proving popular with children and

their parents

Life Skills for Children has been successfully delivered to thousands of young people

through schools, community groups and charities.
Gary said, “We are seeking support from parents, community groups and those individuals
that could make the expansion of the programme a little easier. Life Skills can be delivered
in so many different environments and we are happy to demonstrate the power of the
programme to anybody”

For further information on Life Skills for Children visit:

A Teachers View

Like the vast majority of schools my school contains a mixture of pupils ranging from the conscientious and high achieving to the disinterested and in some cases disruptive.

Often the approach towards pupils who are categorised as “uninterested and disruptive” is the use of well meaning strategies such as an alternative curriculum or intervention lessons in the areas of the curriculum in which they are deemed to be underperforming. This tactic in many cases proves a successful one with pupils benefiting from a more targeted approach to their learning. However the obvious and all too common outcome for some pupils is that their interest in school and their self esteem is further damaged.

Whilst considering such a group in my school and through discussions with senior management and colleagues I decided to try another approach with a group of twelve year 8 pupils. I decided to run a Life Skills for Children program which I had previous experience of working with younger children. During this course year 5 and 6 pupils attended a workshop aimed at teaching numerous life skills including: dispute resolution, how to formally meet and greet people and perhaps most importantly how top spot and avoid dangerous situations.  For now the priority would not be exam results, CAT scores or GCSE options it would be communication skills, achievement, anger management and social awareness.

During the previous Life Skills course Key Stage 2 pupils were trained to deliver basic Life Skills material to their peers thereby reinforcing their own knowledge and creating the opportunity to develop other pupils as trainers. This method also had the benefit of creating a completely sustainable method of delivering important life messages to hundreds of pupils following only one day of training. We are all aware the power of peer to peer delivery and that empowering pupils provides them with a huge boost in self confidence.

Following the initial delivery of the course I was inundated with enthusiastic pupils either wanting to immediately teach their peers and pupils who had heard about the course and who were keen to take part in future sessions.

Having had such a positive experience I decided trying a similar program with the older children. Following consultations with colleague’s twelve pupils were selected.

The support of my senior leadership team was invaluable throughout the process. The group we selected was very mixed to say the least, indeed the group consisted of a combination of male and female pupils with very low self esteem yet academically very strong, pupils with highly disruptive and sometimes aggressive tendencies and the perennial underachievers. The group also included pupils who had a strong dislike for each other to such an extent it was affecting their school life on a daily basis.  

Gary from Life Skills for Children ran the course as twelve complete day sessions during which the pupils were taken off timetable. Prior to commencing we tried to ascertain what would make the course a success, the prospect of all pupils turning into model pupils? , changing the views of sceptical staff? We quickly came to the conclusion if we were able to get a positive response from at least three pupils it was worth doing and that the measure of success would be gathered from pupil, staff and parental feedback at the end of the course combined with observations of pupil progress on a weekly basis.

The Skills work shops were delivered through a variety of methods such as group discussion, written reflections, instructor and peer led presentations and physical training sessions requiring the pupils to work as a team. The main areas covered over the twelve weeks included:

Communication skills
Danger awareness
Actions and Consequences
Dispute resolution
Social responsibility
Target setting

Day one left me feeling rather uneasy to say the least. Pupils regularly stormed out of sessions particularly when they were asked to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses. Pupil disputes that we were already fully aware of soon escalated whilst the feedback from the pupils regarding their teachers and others in authority painted a picture of total mistrust bordering contempt. Most notably their opinion of me as their head of year is perhaps best not repeated, I still wince at the comments I read following day one! I am pleased to say by the end of the course this changed considerably.

Day two was perhaps even worse with the aggression levels of the pupils increasing as they clearly did not enjoy expressing their private thoughts to be mocked by their peers. They certainly were not ready to accept that some of their behaviour was wrong and they could use an alternative method of getting their point across. My greatest concern at this point was the quiet withdrawn pupils had become even more withdrawn.

By day three the rules changed. Until now the pupils were allowed to express themselves anyway they wanted now they were only allowed to make positive comments, if someone insulted them they were told to respond “thank you”. To be honest by day three the pupils had actually got “bored” with swapping insults and acting disinterested. Gary gave them all opportunities to succeed each day and they began to “self police” the pupils actually began to develop a low tolerance to others negativity. At first I put this down to them viewing disruptions by their peers as potentially lengthening the time they would have to be there, by the midway point of the course disruptions appeared to be viewed as an affront to their enjoyment and learning during the course.

Over the next few weeks the workshops continued and I began attending and joining in the sessions. During one such session I watched pupils present their ambitions to other class members who had to ask questions, the mocking and constant sarcasm I had previously witnessed was gradually disappearing and the pupils were beginning to form a team.  One pupil who had point blank refused to speak in front of the other pupils on day one delivered a quiet brilliant presentation on his ambition to be an MP and did so with confidence. When asked what his next step would be he responded “I want to be confident enough to knock on a stranger’s door and explain what the liberal democrats can do for them”.  One pupil who had openly ridiculed him the previous weeks with the familiar “geek” jibe now viewed his ambition as “cool”!

Life Skills had a massive impact on the majority of pupils. I have no doubt that by the end of the program the pupils had been coached in some very important potentially life saving skills. The group had been coached in numerous strategies in order to help them get the best out of both themselves and others. I can confidently say through feedback from teachers and parents that for at least six of these pupils the Life Skills Course literally changed their life.

“life skills changed my sons life, thank you, I only wish this was available when I was at school” A parent

“I used to be scared of some of these pupils, now I know I can stand in front of them with confidence” A pupil

What about the rest? I thoroughly believe had this course been ran a year earlier for some of these pupils the response would have been just as encouraging. Life Skills is not a magic bullet it will not convert the masses but it will significantly improve the lives of many pupils.  

Running this course leaves me with a strong feeling of optimism there is an option for the thousand of pupils for whom school is not meeting their needs. For the countless number of children who year on year fall into the spiral of anti social behaviour I thoroughly believe through my experience Life Skills for Children would make a difference.

Bullying - UK worst in Europe

Stop! BULLYING through Education Gone are the days when teachers lecture young people with a series of statements and boring quotes.

Bullying in secondary schools is worse in the UK than the rest of Europe, a recent British survey has found.

The study, found that nearly half of UK secondary school pupils (46%) think that bullying is a problem in their school and is usually caused by students' language difficulties, skin colour, race and religion.

The statistics came from research conducted across schools in Europe - from Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany and Spain - chosen for their mix of children from different backgrounds.

A total of 3,500 children were asked a series of multiple-choice questions, of which 1,500 from the UK.

Some 41% of respondents said they had been made fun of because of language difficulties, 31% said skin colour, 29% because of racial difference and 27% because of their religion.

A further 41% said it owed to the clothes pupils wear and 44% because of differences in physical appearance.

Bullying is a difficult problem to tackle, as many people do not know where to draw the line between harmless fun and bullying. Most of us have experienced friendly jibes or comments that in a different set of circumstances would have upset us, but due to the nature of the company we are in at the time of the incidents, we just pass it off as harmless.

Victims will often tell us that the negative effects of bullying have left them feeling low, depressed and in many cases suicidal.

Despite the mountain of support and advice to tackle this issue and provide victims with solutions to the many different kinds of bullying that exist today, we have to acknowledge that education has to be at the heart of the problem solving tablet.

Having an understanding of right and wrong, social responsibility and basic respect for other human beings is the key to successfully combating bullying.

Timing is essential in this educational process, for the right timing will be the difference between young people accepting the information they have been given or dismissing it and being swayed by their peers or other influential groups within their lives.

We should be educating young people from as young as 5yrs in those simple to learn skills that assist them in understanding the effects of positive and negative interaction with their peers.

It has been proven that a majority of the traits we develop within our personalities are installed by the age of 7yrs.  Everything from eating habits to behavioural patterns can be clearly demonstrated in a 7yr old child.

Therefore educating children in the basic skills required to reduce the spread of negative behaviour / bullying, must begin at 5yrs of age.

The question is should we as a community rely on parents to provide that basic education to their siblings?  Unfortunately, many of the parents do not clearly appreciate the basic skills to understand the negative and positive aspects of communication skills, and therefore how are they going to install these key skills into their young impressionable children.

Many opinions aired in bullying incidents stem not from the views of the child themselves, but from the beliefs and opinions of their parents and sometimes grand-parents. Racial, homophobic and social class abuse often stems from many generations of ignorance and negative experiences.

We as a community need to establish a fundamental set of rules that young impressionable children will understand, enjoy learning and appreciate to such a degree that they become the educators for those around them including their parents and grand-parents.

It is imperative that the educational process to install these basic skills is FUN, as children learn, engage and explore their creativity whilst having FUN.

There are those that believe serious issues should be dealt with in a serious educational manner. Any teaching professional will acknowledge that young people from 5yrs up will disengage, become disruptive and generally close down to any educational material that is delivered in a boring, methodical and one-dimensional manner.

Yes, the subject of bullying is a very important topic to approach, but the material must be delivered in a way that encourages enthusiasm, creativity and opinions. The lessons must be FUN and inspirational and allow young people to express themselves.

Teachers need to appreciate that the audience in front of them is just that an audience. With the right direction this audience will create a learning atmosphere that can be enjoyable and serious at the same time.

Within the Life Skills for Children programme, the KIDS teach KIDS initiative is proving to be very popular as groups of dedicated young people learn the skills and delivery methods to share with their peers.

What can be more powerful than a 12yr old boy educating a 7yr old child in those skills that will assist him in becoming a successful member of his community.

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