Getting it Right for Every Child

The last band I saw live were these guys just about a year ago.  I bought their first album Gordon, back when I was in college and have followed them, on and off for the last 20 odd years.  Their lyrics are smart, funny and sometimes touching with the added bonus that I can strum some of their tunes on my guitar.

This track describes what it is like for a new entrant to school (high school in this case I think – I’m not terribly well versed in Canadian education!) and for those of us who have been through secondary school I’m sure some of the lyrics resonate.

At this point we have a number of new children in school; from our new p1s to families we are welcoming from significantly further away.  We are welcoming children who have been all through our nursery and are comfortable and happy in our environment and we are welcoming children who have travelled thousands of miles to be with us in incredibly challenging circumstances.  It is our challenge and privilege to ensure that we get it right for them.  The title of this blog post is the expanded version of what you may have heard spoken about as GIRFEC.

THis is the definition from Scottish Government “GIRFEC is the national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of our children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. It supports them and their parent(s) to work in partnership with the services that can help them.”

This approach is central to the work that we do in Easter Carmuirs Primary, and is something that takes an enormous amount of planning and organisation, liaising with associated agencies and preparing the referrals and reports, chronologies and assessments.  The point of the blog title refers to the challenge of preparing our children to make sure that their voices are heard, that their opinion is valued and that their wishes are central to any decision making process.  This includes our very youngest children, children who receive additional support and children for whom English is not their first language as well as every other child enrolled in our school.  It is so important that we find ways to find out what it is like to be a pupil in our school, like a new start in Grade 9 with a humongous binder! One of the ways we will be doing that this year is through the introduction of a programme called Emotionworks. Through this programme, along with a range of other approaches, we will be supporting our children to understand and describe their emotions  and to articulate themselves to help us understand what it is like for them to be a pupil in our school.

We also have a number of new staff who I’m sure are enjoying the challenge of learning new routines and getting to grips with who everyone is and what the secret number is for the colour photocopier!  I think at one point last year I was the only person in the building who did not know what the secret number was 🙂

You also may have noticed a Dojo School Story this week about a meeting I was a part of, attended by the minister for Early Learning and Childcare in Scottish Government, discussing attendance in school.  Easter Carmuirs Primary has one of the lowest attendance rates across Falkirk and through working with Falkirk Council  over the last year we have identified a direct link between attendance and attainment.  Put very bluntly the more children are in school the more they learn and the higher they attain.  We are putting a much stronger focus on attendance this year and would ask for all of your support in making sure your children are attending school as often as possible.

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