The General Teaching Council for Scotland

4 Apr 2018

Challenge to Change Conference

ailsa-galashan-100x100Ailsa Galashan, Communications Intern

"Young voices are starting to be heard in the challenge for change."


The Challenge to Change event, held at the Perth Concert Hall, was aimed at highlighting social issues which affect teenagers and young people, and how to tackle them. The event was organised and attended by 24 pupils in Second Year from a mix of high schools within the Perth and Kinross area. As well as key speakers and stalls, the event held several workshops aimed at improving confidence, team building and determination.

Introduction to the event

The event was a blur of excitement from the young people as they were arranged into different groups. In the first exercise the young people were asked to write on a paper man something in their life that they wanted to change. The paper men were later displayed on a table in the hall during lunch, encouraging the young people to discuss what they want to see change.

Why not ask a young person?

Leyla Josephine, a poet and spoken word artist, then opened the event. She shared her views on the Scottish Government’s 2018 Year of Young People and read out a letter she had written to The National Newspaper, who had asked her to write about her experience of being a young person in Scotland. Leyla, who is 26, said she did not feel equipped to answer this question as she did not consider herself a young person in Scotland in 2018. “Why not ask a young person?” she had replied, reflecting her belief that young voices are still being neglected and ignored.

Donna Shaw

As there were several workshops going on simultaneously, I followed one group to see how they were getting on and engaging throughout the day. The first workshop I attended was run by Donna Shaw (@Shawza5) called Motivation and Determination. Donna, a retired football player, discussed her experience of winning the premier league, despite facing many struggles playing the game because of her gender.

You are all in charge of your own destiny

Donna then asked all the young people to consider their own dream and how they would achieve it. “You are all in charge of your own destiny,” she explained to them. This brought up discussion about what some of the young peoples’ interests were and how they could access support to pursue them.

Leyla Josephine

The second workshop the group attended was with Leyla Josephine, the poet and spoken word artist who had offered her insights during the introduction to the event. Leyla began the workshop with a video of a spoken word artist discussing her experiences as a Muslim after the London attacks last year. Spoken word is a word based performance which focuses on word play. It can be described as a kind of poetry which is performed aloud, and is often used as a commentary on cultural attitudes. This recital provoked conversation amongst the young people regarding how everyone’s lives are very similar and relatable, and that we should continue to strive for change and equality. The workshop moved on with the young people splitting into groups to create pieces in spoken word regarding issues around inequality, such as poverty or the pay gap.


I had the opportunity to see some of the stalls in the hall. These stalls included organisations invited to the event because of the work they do for young people in Perth and beyond. I spoke to James Gardner from LGBT Youth Scotland, who was informing young people about the services that his organisation offers.

Some were even coming back on their lunch break to do it again!

James was engaging some of his visitors at the stall through an activity where the young people had to match LGBT definitions to the nouns they were associated with. “The young people have been very interested in the activity and also very knowledgeable about all the definitions. Some were even coming back on their lunch break to do it again!” James commented.

The event also had its own photo booth service, which was run by a fourth year pupil from Perth High School, who alongside his studies has his own business: Lewis T DJ Services. The business is Perth based and offers both DJ and photo booth services.

As the school know me, I was asked to come along.
I spoke to Lewis about how he was finding the event and how the young people were engaging with his stall. “The young people have been very interested. As the school know me, I was asked to come along.” It seemed that having Lewis T DJ Services at the event added the extra community feel, and also highlighted how the school pupils were invested in the organisation of the day.

Sheena Delvin

Sheena Devlin, the Director of Education and Children’s Services at Perth and Kinross Council gave one of the final presentations at the end of the event. She discussed how she had come from a background of poverty, and how a teacher had bought her walking boots so that she could take part in the Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Instead of challenging each other, challenge your limits instead.

She also described her success of being the first woman in her role within Perth and Kinross Council, and how she felt she was breaking down barriers and challenging the stereotype that men hold higher positions. She encouraged the young people to continually work hard with each other, and to challenge change in the strive for equality. She ended her talk with the sentiment: “Instead of challenging each other, challenge your limits instead.”

Final thoughts

I felt that the event was a fantastic way to get young people talking and learning about change, whilst getting the opportunity to have their voices heard. It was clear that by the end of the day, the schools had mixed together and were happy to engage in conversations about positive change and working together through team building exercises. I feel that it is a great achievement for the young people to have been a part of the organisation and attendance of the event, and shows that young voices are starting to be heard in the challenge for change.

Thank you to Natasha Sturrock from Perth High School for inviting me along to share in this event!