'A Bridge back in to Education'
North Herts Education Support Centre serves the local community through support for local schools and the young people who live in our catchment area. Within this catchment area we have three local authority children’s homes, two based in Stevenage and one in Baldock. Many of the young people living in these homes struggle to attend their educational provision, be it in a mainstream school or an alternative provider. A large proportion of these students attend NHESC.
Although NHESC provides four different programmes, ranging from a programme offering 6 GCSE’s to a therapeutic/functional skills programme, it has proved to be difficult at times to effectively place the CLA students into one of our main programmes. This has been due to a number of reasons; including how complex their needs are, to it being inappropriate for them to be in a group with another young person either from the same home or another home. The idea for a specific support service for these young people in the children’s homes came about through discussions with CSF officers during the summer break 2010. The support service is in the form of a teacher and two support workers who take the education to the young people and gradually encourage them to step outside the home and attend an educational provision.
The Bridge 29 programme is aimed at improving the attendance in education of the young people in the local authority children’s homes and thus increases their chances of gaining qualifications.
Initially the teacher and the support workers will work in the children’s home in 1-1 sessions with the young people, building up a trusting relationship with them and offering a support to engage the young person in a positive educational programme. This may at first be based in the children’s home, then in the local community, progressing to a new room specifically for them in the connexions/youth club building at Bancroft in Hitchin and then hopefully into their planned educational provision be it mainstream or alternative provider.
Of course if the young person has already been attending a provision then it may be immediately supporting them into that provision.
As this provision is part of NHESC there are direct links with both the onsite provision and our outreach service. Handovers to these staff will happen once the young person has progressed to this stage.
The programme helps students to access education, staff from Bridge 29 travel to the children’s homes each day, build close relationships with the young people, bring them to the Bridge 29 school building and support them with accessing as much of the curriculum as they can cope with. Once they are confident in Bridge 29, they are eased into the onsite groups at NHESC. This way the student can access more qualifications and experiences. The Bridge 29 support is always there, if the student deteriorates then we move them back into the Bridge 29 sessions until once gain they can access the NHESC groups.
The programme also offers 1-1 work experience for the students where the member of staff stays with the student at the work placement and gradually removing themselves once the student had built up their confidence. Recent work experience placements have been in a boutique, a dog kennels, Canine Holidays, which provides care and exercise for pets while their owners are away and a plumbing company.
The central facets of the work of the Bridge 29 staff are centred on: the raising of students’ self-esteem and developing independence; encouraging students to work with others; and to develop understanding and tolerance of others’ needs and opinions.
Added to these fundamental aims are also the following aspects to our focus when working with our students, constantly encouraging them to:
- Exercise personal responsibility and develop positive, co-operative relationships with others;
- Deepen their awareness of their own and others’ moral development and emotional and spiritual needs;
- Read and write both for pleasure and information, presenting their work in suitable ways for a variety of audiences and purposes;
- Speak clearly and with self-confidence, giving facts and opinions and distinguishing between them;
- Listen attentively to others, acknowledging others’ rights to their opinions and beliefs;
- Develop good numeracy skills and the ability to understand and apply mathematical knowledge and concepts in a variety of situations;
- Develop ICT skills and develop an awareness of their importance in today’s technological society;
- Use varied resources in their research, investigations and projects, including books, artefacts, electronic aids and information technology;
- Develop independence in their studies and researches;
- Understand some of the physical and human influences that shape the world and appreciate people’s aspirations and achievements both historically and now;
- Participate in and enjoy physical activities, especially gym and swimming.
- Develop an awareness and have some experience of employment possibilities and training opportunities;
- Extend knowledge and experience a range of varied opportunities for recreation and leisure;
- Be informed of economic, environmental, political, cultural and social issues in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society;
- Develop critical and evaluative faculties, including those of self-evaluation.
Curriculum planning is designed to meet the needs of the individual pupils, both socially, emotionally, behaviourally and academically.
There is a liaison with Children’s Homes, FE colleges and other agencies, for example police liaison workers, health care and Careers, YOT workers, ARC workers, social workers, people who provide other provisions plus psychologists and most importantly of all, the carers and parents of our young people.
Please see curriculum Policy for further details.
Whilst much of the time is spent on academic work, there is just as much emphasis on personal and social education.
Students’ placements at Bridge 29 are often a time for them to relax a little and to take time out of a situation that is not working for them in and to gather strength and ideas to help them move forwards. We are in a position to give students the time and space to reflect on new ways of approaching problems and, if necessary, refer them to services that we feel will help them to make a success of their time in compulsory education.
Another valuable aspect of Bridge 29 is the ability and flexibility to provide Outreach Education to the Residential Homes adding safe and known environs in which the young people may learn, whilst also creating the possibility of networking with the Residential Home Staff and other young people present in the home, and informing and involving them in the learning. Frequently other young people have joined in lessons which have borne dividends more than once already, both in terms of lending weight to Bridge 29 as a viable option for the children, and to creating relationships with potential future students.
Monitoring of the Programme
The monitoring of this programme is through the Virtual school governing body, the head teacher at NHESC is a member of this and through the Commissioning group who are the local Children’s Home Managers and the Residential Home Manager, the Virtual School Education Adviser and The Virtual School Head Teacher.
The Bridge 29 staff consist of a lead teacher, two experienced support workers and the support of other workers via the advisory teacher for CLA in LA Children’s Homes.
Progress of these students are monitored by the SLT at NHESC and reported to the Commissioning group meetings and to NHESC Governing Board.
Student timetables are a minimum of 1 whole day and 4 four hour sessions. This amounts to a minimum of 22 hours with most being 25 hours.
The children’s home managers are sent a student report each half term.
Referral to the Programme
Referral is through the managers of the residential homes and the Advisory Teacher for CLA in the LA Children’s Homes. Bridge 29 has specific referral paper work which is completed either by the Bridge 29 staff or the advisory teacher for CLA.