Baldragon Academy- Dundee
Welcomed by Yvonne and Elaine, very busy, a lot of staff absences, including a depute head teacher. Very busy school, everyone is mucking in and getting the job done. No matter of specific job titles or roles, if a job needs to be done, it gets sorted and done then and there. Both Yvonne and Elaine have been there for 14 & 15 years respectively. Lots of experience between them, no plans or wishes to be elsewhere in another job, both would miss it. Previously social work and CLD backgrounds, but fancied a change of job and different working hours. Mainly term time/school time. Gregor does all year round to help the children, examples being outdoor play, organising days out and general outdoor activities. He helps link up with communities.
Currently, have a student helping out, the student has built up her experience, alongside her responsibilities, often does outdoor education activities too.
Pupil support in ‘toast room’, deal with anything and everything. children can pop in and out. Some children not in mainstream education. Children who do well in class (children who may have struggled at the beginning of term paying attention, concentration difficulties or even holding a pencil) are recognised in their progress and can get rewards, e.g xbox, games, wii. Working hard gets rewarded, reward periods in school. Children are referred to by guidance teachers, a meeting is held, works in conjunction with the guidance team. For a child, they can receive support from 6 weeks up to a term. They can be referred for anything, little or small. They help meet the needs of the school, toast room is busy. Taken a few years to get to the way it is, old barriers have been chipped down. Teachers are aware of the work they do, they are often invited down, new teachers are encouraged to see the work the pupil support team do, helps with stereotypes and stigma. Helps build use of Elaine, Yvonne and Gregor.
‘Toast Room’, as children get toast, due to the number of children in the school who were not having breakfast. Was a gradual build-up to the ‘toast room’. Ladies are often referred to as the ‘toast wifeys’, and have served over half a million slices of toast. They have a huge sense of pride in what they have helped achieve. Only have £500 budget for the whole year. Fundraising is fundamental in what they need to achieve to help the children. Sponsorship from Yvonne and Elaine’s dads, they play off each other and see it as if he’s doing it then I’m doing it for the term after. Every Friday they have no toast club, but instead cook bacon rolls to sell for £1.50 for all staff members, highly popular and successful. They have a positive working relationship with teachers. Seen improvements in concentration, rapour with teachers. There is no, them/us problem, the school is seen as one big team, all on the same page. It works well for everyone.
Partnerships work well, princes trust mentioned. A lot of effort and work has gone into it, has evolved through the years. Everyone can knock on each other’s doors. Parents lounge, can teach basic skills for parents such as cooking, reading, writing. in the past, Yvonne has taken children to the dentist or doctors, due to parents being unable or too scared to take the child involved. If she hadn’t done it, then nobody would have. Children’s needs are being met. Washed hair in the sink. Spare clothes and washing machine on hand. KeyCo has 32 vulnerable kids, if the school had that, they would struggle. It’s about building relationships and making yourself available. Very positive school support, great communication with kids, asking how they are, keeping up the conversation, being interested. The kids don’t care about your qualification, it’s about being you and not your job title, they want to speak to you. If they want to speak to you, they will. It is about being approachable.
You want what is best for the child, and what makes life easier for the child. Yvonne and Elaine are one of the only schools in Dundee to have their original pupil support workers. Done a presentation to a board of education members, and was such a success that all pupil support workers in schools were offered permanent jobs. Pupil support is open to every child in the school, they are approachable and well known in the school, well publicised and welcoming in the school building. All in one corridor.
Enhanced Transition: primary into secondary. helps flag up children that may need some TLC and encouragement and would benefit from their help. Takes the pressure off of guidance teachers. Gives children the opportunity to have a flavour of classes. Early Transition programme. Also on a seperate note, some children who are not in mainstream education have their own classes and teacher, after time they are gradually introduced into mainstream classes.
Challenges: depends on other partners, is the only way forward. Expectations. ‘not my job’ stigma. staff turnover and absences can affect children involved. Children matter, the child trumps everything. if you don’t get on with someone you just get on with it and focus on the child and the job involved. Different personalities. Looking at what Baldragon can provide. Technology- nothing works better than communicating face to face, the job gets done quicker. Always go with the solution. Parents phoned up due to not liking the name of the group, this was taken on board and name was changed. parents use social media nowadays and google things, sometimes get the wrong impression. Word gets around quickly.
GIRFEC- Child protection, buddies (support), working with children in different ways. No limits of age and stage have to be in the school to receive the support. Not means tested.
Monday – 1st years. Tuesday- 2nd Years… (toast) its there for everyone who needs it, even staff. Staff always popping in, the presence of not just pupil support using the area, like a community. No one is singled out. There are some expectations for the kids e.g- no swearing. Pupil support is like a layer in between, often have a voice for young people. Defusing situations. Looking at children’s circumstances, putting yourself in their shoes.