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SOEC Meeting the needs of Young Scots

SOEC may deliver high quality outdoor learning programmes. It may provide more experiential learning to more young people than any other organisation in Scotland. However, SOEC is far more than this. SOEC is also a Scottish Charity delivering many social and other benefits.

One of the amazing aspects of SOEC is that we can meet so many needs and deliver so many different types of benefits for young people. Such benefits tend to be easy to claim but difficult to prove and determining the value of such benefits has long been a difficult task. However today, SOEC has evidence of the efficacy of our work.

1:11 – that is the SOEC ratio, identifying that for every £1 spent, we deliver £11 of benefits.
The SROI (Social Return On Investment) analysis establishes a financial value for the many and varied benefits from our work. This was undertaken by independent consultants Forth Development. SROI is a complicated analysis but culminates in a ratio, for example, 1:6 in which every £1 spent or invested in the charity, results in £6 in environmental or social benefits.

However the results for SOEC show a very high ratio of 1:11. Therefore our work produced benefits more than 10x that which is invested in the charity. This is a fantastic endorsement and we hope that it confirms to others the importance and relevance of our work.

What the consultants said:

It is apparent that SOEC are able to define their outcomes.. This report examined their delivery of objective (sic) and national outcomes and how they help to enable young people to develop their confidence, learning and communication skills, amongst others, as a result of their outdoor programs. The SROI ratio is estimated to be between 11.02 and 11.04 which is a high ratio. In addition… it can be emphasised that SOEC have appropriately identified their outcomes and evidenced them using a variety of stakeholder engagement processes.

Examples Explaining How SOECs SROI Is So High: Confidence and Triggering Changes in Behaviour.

Carol Craig at the Centre for Confidence and Well-being is clear that young Scots are held back by their lack of confidence. For many years, it has been felt that outdoor learning develops confidence in young people but this tends to be left at a visceral level. Therefore SOEC teamed up with the Centre for Confidence and Well-being who contribute to the training of our tutors every year. We’ve also collaborated on surveying young people to learn more about the efficacy of our work. Although we’ve only been able to pilot this research, nevertheless preliminary indications are that SOEC programmes do a lot for confidence, ‘can do spirit’ and optimism. These are very important particularly where research shows many young Scots have a pessimistic view of their future. They are also important as we enter the world of globalisation.

Triggering Changes In Behaviour
Many young people display behaviour that can disrupt or hinder their personal and social development and impeded their learning. These behaviours can be tenacious and resistant to change by conventional means.

Three young people came to us from the same school: 2 with restricted diets and one who had determined to be mute in school. This behaviour was clearly an impediment to learning as well as personal and social development and of great concern to parents and teachers. Within a few hours of being on their SOEC residential experience, 2 were eating a wide range of healthy food types and the other was singing in the shower and her teachers joked, they “could not shut her up if they wanted to.” These are just three examples of something that occurs frequently at our Centres.

However 2 of these young people had been attending regular meetings with specialists (educational psychologist and dietician) for a period of 6 years with no noticeable improvement. It is perhaps worth noting too that the other young person with a restricted diet had not displayed behaviour sufficient to warrant additional support, yet it was clearly of concern.

The residential experience was clearly the trigger for change and enabled teachers to take advantage of that change. In fact, this this type of change is regularly seen at SOEC. This raises a wide range of issues about cost effective ways to trigger change that benefits young people. These examples also relate to the Curriculum for Excellence and specifically confidence, resilience, team work etc.

SOEC – A Scottish Charity
SOEC is a charity and this distinguishes our work from many others. It separates us from those providers in local authorities who have focussed for too long on adventure activities. It also sets us apart from the private sector providers who, backed by the travel industry, emphasise laser gun games and quad biking; a far cry from citizenship or sustainable development education for example.

Our charitable objectives are the driving force for SOEC from which we derive a genuine interest in making accessible and delivering high quality learning outcomes. Our aims are ambitious – to provide experiential learning to enable young people to develop the skills, knowledge and qualities they’ll need to survive and thrive in a world of rapid change. In an age of climate change, globalisation and austerity, our work is needed more than ever.

We work with all children and young people, across the age range and from all walks of life. We work with all abilities and many face specific physical, behavioural or learning challenges. This gives SOEC a unique perspective on young people and a clear understanding of their needs and this guides us when delivering our charitable objectives.