My job has dramatically changed in the last two years. As cuts have bitten into other services I find myself stepping into roles that frankly I do not have the skills to do. Don’t get me wrong I make a grand cup of tea and I’m really good at listening, I also have biscuits. On occasion I have been known to give a mean hug, but let’s get it straight…
I am not a Social Worker!
I am not an Attendance Officer!
I am not a Parental Support Advisor!
I am not a Prevention Officer
I am not a counselor!
I am not a Police Officer!
In the last two and a half years many of these services have been stripped away. The impact on my most vulnerable families has been dramatic.
Let’s get one thing clear I am not in any way blaming any of the people doing those jobs. I see they are run ragged on a daily basis, they have case loads and workloads they cannot possibly keep up with. We are sadly the ones however who see the impact. It impacts on how our children enter school. It impacts on our pupils ability to learn.
Rightly or wrongly we have stepped into the void. To be fair my deputy and I try to keep this from impacting on the staff so they can do their job. I worry hugely that this stops us getting on with the job of running a school. We never seem to have enough time. Then again I don’t think anybody does. As a school we are vigilant, we do something called ’60 second monitoring’ which helps us keep an overview of the challenges. We adapt provision to support those young people so they can learn.Our priority is to ensure our young people are safe. As the external support has dropped we see more and more children at risk.
The problem is for many of our families they don’t know where else to go for advice and support. Some are crying out for help. They just often need someone to talk to and a bit of time. However increasingly they need someone to help them.
I have visited doctors with families to help them get the support they need, I have been to court to help parents fight for their child’s entitlement to disability living allowance. I have collected children to make sure they get into school and then taken them home at the end of the day. I have helped them access food banks. We do this because it ultimately helps our young people get on with their job of learning.
Getting CAMHS support feels nigh on impossible. There are massive waiting lists after referral and in many cases they are just rejected once they finally get seen. We have employed a counsellor in school (We found the money) but this really just scratches at the surface of the need.
I know some people will say that it is not your job. I know some people will say there should be ‘no excuses’. Thing is by us doing the things we do, we support our most vulnerable children in accessing their education and I still firmly believe education is the key. If we didn’t do the the things we are doing, some of our children would be lost to education.
Anyway whether I wanted to or not, I couldn’t do it any other way. It’s what the job is.