First Northern Alliance Youth Advisory Group residential held

Laptop with Northern Alliance logo on display screen

The Northern Alliance is a Regional Improvement Collaborative between eight local authorities (Orkney, Western Isles, Highland, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Argyll & Bute and Shetland) working alongside Education Scotland’s Northern Team of Attainment Advisors and Curriculum Specialists.

it seeks to improve the educational and life changes of children and young people, build on the strengths of shared service development, and create professional networks and deliver continuous professional development.

The group held their first residential event on 10th -12th March 2023 at Highland Council HQ and Fairburn Activity Centre, Muir of Ord. Young People and Youth Workers were present from Orkney, Western Isles, Highland, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Argyll & Bute.  Unfortunately, Shetland were unable to attend due to poor weather conditions.

Young people spent the weekend getting to know each other and having fun by taking part in team building and social activities, as well as learning more about the Northern Alliance and exploring what is meant by meaningful youth participation through a series of workshops delivered by Naomi Macdonald (Youth Scotland), Hamish Nott and Kaydence Drayak (YAG members), and Derek Sawyer and Michelle Skellern from the Northern Alliance.

By the end of the weekend, young people identified the following key points from the residential:

What do we want and what needs to change?

  • We want to be listened to and taken seriously by adults/schools.

  • We want action now.

  • We want better communication about what we want for our future.

What have we learned?

  • Participation and engagement needs to be meaningful.

  • How to run a focus group.

  • Whose voices do we need to capture?

General observations:

  • We are all from different areas and backgrounds and we all have different needs.

  • We all have a purpose to be here.

  • We all want to make change.

  • We want to collaborate with others to make that change.

  • We need to ensure equity and equality.

The Northern Alliance exists to make a difference to the lives of children and young people by ensuring that the professionals who work with them collaborate for improvement and impact. It has four key workstreams collaborating across the eight local authorities

  • Learning for sustainability

  • Wellbeing and learning

  • The right drivers in action

  • Learning environments

You can find a summary of work by the Northern Alliance to date and planned activity for 2023-24 here