Apologies to Amy Woodhouse of Children in Scotland, who used a similar pun a couple of days ago in her latest blog (you can follow her fascinating Churchill Fellowship travels looking at children’s access to hobbies on LinkedIn or click here) – but I’ve honestly been planning this as my first headline for a few weeks and it’s too good to pass up!
When I did my own Churchill Fellowship on transitions, long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away (pre-Brexit, for heaven’s sake), everyone I visited asked the same question: “why here?”
Each time, I asked which country they regarded as the gold standard for good provision and practice. And each time, the answer was the same.
“We look to Finland.”
Since then I’ve been itching to find out why. Of course nowhere is perfect. I already know there are Finns who feel things could, and should, be better for young people with additional support needs (and their families) on the way to young adult life. But for the next 4 weeks, I’ll be trying to find out as much as I can about what works well for them and what doesn’t.
I’m also looking forward to sharing some of the exciting things happening in Scotland right now. It feels like transitions are having a bit of a moment: at ARC Scotland, we launched the national framework Principles into Practice and the Compass transitions planning tool in June; the statement of intent for the Scottish Government’s National Transitions Strategy is out for consultation as I write; there’s a Transitions Bill under discussion in the Scottish Parliament; and many more innovations and approaches, all seeking to make a real difference to the lives and prospects of these young people and their families.
Let’s hope it will all lead to a sea change in providing the right opportunities and support. It’s long, long overdue.
For now though, it may only be Day 1 – but Helsinki, you are already delivering. I’m loving the atmosphere, the buildings, the ease of getting around. And whoever said Finns are taciturn? So far in my experience they smile, they welcome you warmly, they’re happy to talk. And I have a feeling there’s a lot more below the surface.
I’m looking forward to finding out.
All opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of any other organisation. I am however grateful to ARC Scotland and my colleagues for making this trip possible.