J Block Immortalized On The Sims

Screenshot-128

I have been meaning to post this alot sooner, but I am on Sleep In and haven’t been to bed yet. (due to dealing with an emergency) I promised one of the boys, it would go on our Blog as I love it! One of the boys on Jets, is building J Block on The Sims, but it is not finished yet. Thanks to Sam, I was able to photocopy plans of the building for him to design a realistic version of the building.

I can’t wait to see the finished product and I hope he makes Care Staff to work on his version of Junior House, along with a few boarders!

However, I am off to bed now…. I should of been in bed by 11 and I’m shattered. So goodnight from me and from our school!

We Are Rated Outstanding AGAIN!

BAN_SCH001Our Boarding Provision has been rated outstanding for the FIFTH YEAR RUNNING!! The inspectors were very impressed with our Boarding Provison and said that the boarding pupils have positive experiences. They are thriving and developing valuable life skills as a direct result of their attendance at this school. Th They all identified that their relationships with the boarding staff, and with each other, are ‘one of the best things’.

The Care Staff, known as House Parents, were inspected as genuinely caring and nurturing, which has a significant impact on the boarders. This offers them stability and emotional security. The boarders had told the inspectors that nothing was too much trouble and staff would always make time to listen and support young people in our care.

The inspectors found that we provide extensive pastoral support ensures that the boarders have several options where they can seek guidance and advice. This includes counselling, interdependent visitors, access to mental health support etc. The inspectors also said that primary health and well-being needs of boarders are met. They visited Sick Bay and spoke to patients and staff. Care in Sick Bay was found to be more than adequate, with  provision for inpatient care and also the day unit for pupils who cannot learn in a traditional classroom, due to health problems \ disabilities.

The Kids told the inspectors that they feel safe. They are confident that they would tell  a member of staff if they were worried about any issues. All the boarding staff have received level 1 safeguarding training, and the Head of Care (Kyle) is a designated safeguarding lead. The boarders re very respectful of the boarding staff and each other. The school educates all the pupils about the risks that they may encounter, and how to get help. This empowers the boarders to be aware and self-reliant. reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues or unwanted behavior. On top of this, the school has self defnce classes, taught by Sam. This is not to teach them to fight, but to use self defense, (Aikido) in the situation where they are in danger and have no choice but to defend themselves. As a school, we teach our kids to run from danger and to find an adult for help. This could be  in a nearby shop, a library or a public building. They are also taught the best weapon to use is their voice and to use it, by continuously  shouting HELP! loudly.

The inspectors were very impressed with the activities provided. One inspector really enjoyed the PAT Session. (Pets as Therapies, when Sox visits.) The inspectors said that the structured sessions and free time, allows the kids to have time for free play, as well as joining in on several planned activities every day.

Environmental health and safety and fire safety was inspected as very good. The school ensures that regular health and safety checks are carried out and that all utilities are regularly checked and serviced. The boarders also know what to do in an emergency, should they not be able to find a member of staff. Staff recruitment is thorough, which protects the boarders students from having access to unsuitable adults. Each Unit has enough staff to cover each shift, meaning that adequate supervision is provided.

I got to thank the kids and the staff, we would not of been rated outstanding if it wasn’t for them! I am proud of the kids and staff, together we work together to provide a safe and happy home for the boys we care for! 🙂

A difficult Time

We’ve been looking after a Pupil in Sick Bay, who has got Cancer. I cannot name the Pupil or what sort of Cancer he has had, but he has been receiving Chemo on Sick Bay for the last few months and has been really poorly.

We got the news on Monday that the cancer has spread and that this Young Person may only live until February next year.  I went with this young person to see the Pediatric  Oncologist. I will admit I did get upset myself and so did he. It is a hard subject to get your head around and can be very distressing.

Thoughts then turned to his Palliative Care and his options. He made it quite clear to me and the doctor, that he wanted to spend his final days at school, with his friends around him. I thought this was a very brave statement to make for a 13 year old. Of course, this is not a problem and he will be cared for in Sick Bay, the same as any other pupil would. (Remember, lots of our kids live on site 24 \ 7 all year round)

I’d already spoken to his  Mum while I left him in the play room for a few minutes. I needed a cigarette and I think, with the bad news, you cannot blame me. I arranged for his mum to come and see me at school and we could then talk things through and make a proper plan for his care.

When we got back to school and I had taken him back to Sick Bay, I popped down to the hall and spoke to Karen and explained what was going on. She let me break the news to the school and I said that support will be given to pupils, if they need to talk about this delicate subject and that as a school, we need to be behind this young person and be there for him. I have not openly spoken in Assembly before and I think the kids and staff were shocked to hear the news. I encouraged the kids to visit him in Sick bay, during break, lunch and after school and to help keep his spirits up.

After Assembly, I met with his mum on Sick Bay, who had arrived before I had come back. I said that in the circumstances, I will allow open visiting, so she can come and see her son when she wants to and for as long as needed. If there’s a problem with this, she was told to get someone to bleep me. Dr Darak also has said that she will do anything she can to help and can be bleeped too, if needed.

The pupil in question then asked me to do something I didn’t think he would do. He’s been stuck in Sick Bay for a few months now and  hasn’t really left the unit, apart from Hospital Appointments. He’s been cared for by our Nurses and  Health Care Assistants, under the care of our in house GPs.

He had asked to go outside for break time with the other kids, which was not a problem, as we put him in a wheelchair and I took him outside. I was shocked when I wheeled him out, with his drip on the back of his chair, wrapped up in blankets. The kids and staff on the playground stopped what they were doing and actually applauded the lad. I thought this was so special, as it showed the school was behind him and actually made me feel emotional myself.

He has received lots of visitors, from staff and pupils. However, we are mindful that his mum will want to spend time with him too, so we did ask visitors to come back, if he is with his mum.  However, she said it is important that he has his friends around him and does not mind him having friends come to see him.

Karen, myself and Sam visit as much as we can. I spare a couple of hours during the work day and after work to see him. I have bought him in the spare Xbox from home and a TV, so he can play on that when he gets board.  I also arranged for Rosemary (who is one of our Counselors) to go up and see him, to provide him and his mum emotional support. I talk with him, reassure him and hold his hand. It’s hard for me to be upset, as we are suppose to be professional, but I cannot hold it back. I’ll admit I’ve cried with him and I’ve cried walking out of Sick Bay. I am getting support myself from the school counselling service and have been told it’s OK to cry and to be upset. I hate the kids to see me cry and I have only shown emotions to the kids a few times.

The months ahead will be tough, but with the school behind him, he knows that he is not alone and that he’s getting the best care possible. This has hit the staff and the kids hard and is the 1st time we have ever had this situation.

I am going back up to see him in a minute, but I know you, the bloggers who follow Sam and I on this blog, also send your best wishes and lots of love to a family, who have been knocked back by terrible terrible news, which sadly won’t have a happy ending. 😦

Trouble At The Beginning Of Term

So, term is back in swing and the new boarders have arrived and are into their 1st week at school. However, this evening, 2 boys have landed themselves in big trouble for breaking school rules and vandalism.

It started on Monday, when I was on the Jets Unit, which I am House Parent for. On the 1st afternoon of the school year, I do a getting to know you session, where I go through the rules of the units, who the staff are, the structure etc. On one of these items I go through is smoking and that it is not allowed on school premises. We offer pupils help for pupils to stop smoking and we can give out patches as needed. We also ask that if pupils have smoking materials, that they are handed into staff.

However, a pair of 13 year old lads on the Adolescent Unit , decided the rules do not apply to them and this evening, forced the window in their bedroom window open, breaking the safety catches and then went out on the flat roof for a cigarette. From what I can gather, the pair had done this a couple of times, before being caught by a member of staff walking past their room and smelling smoke. (I am surprised domestics did not notice the broken catch, when they hoovered their room.)

The boys were soon sent to me. Of course I have a zero tolerance view about this. (I know, I smoke I am bias in some ways, but in school I have to enforce the rules. Also I smoke off site) The pair got a right telling off, as well as being grounded for the whole weekend. Their cigarettes and lighters were confiscated and destroyed and the pair will have pocket money docked, to pay for the window safety latches to be repaired. In the meantime, Sam has boarded up the window, for safety until the latch is fixed. 

What a crap start to the week!

Greetings from Blackpool!

Greetings from Blackpool! The Smith Family are here in Blackpool for our annual Summer Holiday by the sea! Most of the family arrived here yesterday lunchtime, but I arrived later last night, due to dealing with a last minute hiccup at work.

Btw,  Sam’s Mum is looking after Sox and Mollie while we are away.

We are staying in one of the larger chained Hotels here in Blackpool and are not far from the beach. The Hotel is nice, as it has a pool for the kids, a kids club and a couple of bars for me and Sam. I book this holiday months and months in advance and make sure we are in a block of rooms, instead of all over the place. I also make sure that the phones are taken out the kids room as well. 🙂

So after a decent night’s kip, a shower and breakfast, Sam and I took the kids to the Tower, where we watched the circus, (with fountain finale) watched the dancing in the ball room and braved the “walk of faith” at the tower top. After lunch, we have been on the beach. The kids have enjoyed paddling, while Sam and I sat in deckchairs, enjoying the sun! (I have had a paddle too and helped the kids build sandcastles!)

Kyle enjoying the beach

This evening, Kyrlo and Josh want to check out the hotel pool, so I am taking them swimming, (even though they have been to the beach) while the other boys go to the kids club. (Sam is taking Zak and Will swimming tomorrow evening) Tomorrow we are hitting the Pleasure Beach and I will be taking Kyrlo, Toby and Zak on the slower rides. (I so want to go on the Wallace and Gromit Ride and on the driving ride!)

Let hope the weather stays good and our holiday is not like last year’s! (Toby had to be rushed to hospital during last year’s holiday, as he got Septicemia, due to his kidney transplant he had a couple of years back. Sam sat with him day and night in Intensive Care, while Toby was fighting for his life. It was very touch and go, but Toby fought off the infection and is OK now, thankfully.)

 

Playing On Swings and Roundabouts

Just a quick post from my tablet, as I am down the park with the kids on the Jets Unit. (One of the lads took this picture of me sat on the swings.) I was on the roundabout earlier and the slide! Who say’s Kyle McLaughlin doesn’t know how to have fun in the sun! (and Yeah, I am wearing my kilt if you wanted to know hehe)

65261483_458829374686825_886347380904488091_n
Fun in the sun, down the park

Tonight, Sam and I, Kyrlo, Billy, some of the care staff and a few boys from the Jets Unit are camping out in the garden, behind J Block. It should be fun and because the weather is so good; it should get the boys some fresh air. We have already put the tents up and later we are having a BBQ and then lighting a camp fire. (Sam has done a risk assessment so it should be fine, plus we have a fire extinguisher on standby!) It’s currently 68F outside and we are making the most of the hot weather while we can.

Beware of Asian Giant Hornets!

We have had dealings with Giant Asian Hornets today, after we discovered a large nest on the side of C Block. It was out of sight of windows, but after a Pupil got stung this morning, it meant Sam had his drone out, trying to find the location of the nest. The Pupil was treated at the scene for Anyphlaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal; if not treated quickly. I am on the “Response Team”, which deals with First Aid Emergencies and was 1st in the scene. In my “Grab and Run Bag”, I have Epi-Pens, which are automatic adrenaline injectors. The Pupil was taken to hospital and has now returned safely to school this evening. It could of been alot worse, if he had of been out of sight of staff.

If you are stung or someone you know is stuck and suffer from a severe allergic reation, act quickly, as a severe allergic reaction can quickly kill! Here is what to do:

  • Remain calm
  • Loosen clothing from around the neck
  • Ask someone to call an ambulance (dial 999 or 112) and state the patient is having an Anapylaxic reaction
  • If the casualty has a Epi Pen, use it: Release the cap, form a fist around the epi-pen, push the epi-pen through the casualty’s thigh, until it clicks
  • Hold the Epi-Pen in place for 10 seconds
  • If the patient stops breathing, begin CPR at once.
  • If the Epi-Pen has no effect, repeat if the casualty has another Epi-Pen
  • If you have access to Oxygen, give oyxgen at 100%
  • Roll the casualty into the recovery position and monitor until help arrives

After this incident, Karen and Sam decided to call a “Wet Break” at lunchtime, to make sure no one else got stung. With Hornets buzzing about C Block, all windows in C Block remained closed. Sam immediately got a professional out, to deal with the nest, which has now been destroyed.

So beware of the little blighters, they can be nasty and even deadly when they attack!

End Of Year Summer Spectacular!

The programme for the End of Year Show has been released and Sam and I think it is going to beat last year’s show!

  • Karen (our Head Teacher) is performing “Love Shine a Light” by Katrina and the Waves
  • Year 9 are performing “Let it Swing” by Bobbysocks and have learnt to sing it in Norwegian!
  • Sam and I are performing “Take me To Your Heaven” by Charlotte Neilson
  • Year 3 performing “Puppet on a String” by Sandie Shaw and dressed up as various puppets
  • Year 6 are performing “Making Your Mind Up” by Bucks Fizz
  • Year 5 are performing “Oooh Are Just a Little Bit” by Gina G, (dressed as Cheerleaders!)
  • The Care Staff sing Waterloo by ABBA
  • Some of the Teaching Staff are singing Fly On The Wings of Love by The Olson Brothers

~ Interval ~ (Refreshments and Raffle)

The 2nd half is mixed talent, with the following acts:

  • Year 10 performing the Country Roads Scene from Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Merlin’s Last Stand) featuring our Head playing Poppy Adams! Sam is playing his own arrangement of Country Roads \ The theme to Kingsmen and I will be playing my Bagpipes during the 1st part of Country Roads. (In my Kilt and Sporran of course, but then for those of you who follow our blog will know; I wear a Kilt to work and it is rare to see me in trousers!)
  • Some of the Year 8 Lads will be doing Magic
  • Year 4, 5 & 7 Clowing Around (They don’t know it yet, but it will involve some of the teachers getting flanned and Karan doesn’t know she’s going to get gunged too! That will be really funny!)
  • Reception and Year 2 perform The YMCA by The Village People (calling themselves the “Village Kids”
  • Year 5, 6 and 8 lads wil be doing BMX and Skateboard Stunts on stage
  • Various from Years 3 – Year 10s doing an Aikido demonstration
  • Some of the older boys from the Acorns Unit reenact the scene from Little Britain “Dennis Waterman – sing da theme tuneeeeeeeeee!” with Sam a member of care staff, (who looks sorta like the real Dennis Waterman) sing “I could be so good for you,” which of course is the theme to Minder. “Oi! I don’t insist on singing da theme tune!”

Finale:

  • The Care Staff and some of the boarders from Jets and Oaks perform Juke Box Jive by The Rubetttes
  • Myself and some of the Care Staff (and some of the boarders from Squirrels and Birds) perform Is This the way to Amerello (in the style of Peter K. (Various shots of the coridoors and parts of the school will be projected onto a green screen on the stage)
  • Sam and Karen sing Sometimes When We Touch by Newton, with the kids cycling on to stage, cartwheeling onto stage, the kids and staff joining in in various costumes) including a vicar, Neapolitan, clowns and much more!

So it’s going to be a great show, with just over a month to go! The show is always a great fundraiser and great fun! I know I enjoy getting to be silly and let my hair down at the end of term, when for one night, the rules get chucked out the window and everyone has a great time!

End of the year is always a very exciting time, but also makes me feel sad, because the older pupils leave and over the years, I have built some great friendships with them, watched them grow up and progress through the school. Some have been a little cheeky or have had hiccups, but I am proud to say I have been there to help and support them over the years. I will miss them when they leave and hope that the boys who leave, keep in touch.

A Fathers Day I will never forget! :)

I am working today, which may come as a surprise to you; because usually I don’t work on a Sunday.  I had arranged to work today, because for the kids I work with, always find Fathers Day a really hard day to cope with. My shift started as normal at half 6 with Handover. (For those of you who don’t know what Handover is, it is where the previous shift, update colleges coming on duty, with the events of the previous shift. IE: If one of the kids was unwell etc) After Handover, we went to wake the kids up. For this, we normally knock on their bedroom door, then go in, open the curtains and gently nudge the sleeping boy, to wake him up. One of the boys on my unit wasn’t too well when I woke him up and was quite warm. So I told him to stay in bed and I will come back in a few minutes, with a thermometer and take his temperature. (This is done in the ear)

Once I had woken up the remaining boys, I went back to our poorly boarder and took his temperature. He was warm, so I decided to give him Calpol and leave him in bed, with 30 minute obs. My next job was drugs round, which is a job that takes around half a hour to complete. Most of the boys shower ion the morning, so I was able to collar them coming to or from the bathrooms and give them their meds. By the time I finished meds, I was now late for breakfast. (That is nothing new, I am always late for Breakfast!) I always eat breakfast with the kids and on weekends, a member of Care Staff makes a cooked breakfast for the boys. (Sausage, Bacon, fried Egg, cooked Mushrooms, cooked Tomatoes etc) there is also cereals, yogurts, toast etc available too) Plus we also have a large metal pot of tea and coffee and fruit juice available.

One of the boys suddenly got up and left the room, before I could say anything. He came back in with a carrier bag and put it at the side of my cup and saucer. I opened the bag and was shocked about the contents. The boys had filled the bag with cards and there was also a box set of smellies. (Deodorant, shower gel and shaving gel) One of the boys went behind the side board and bought out a big photo frame, which had a photo of the boys, the staff and I, sat on the sofa in the unit lounge. The boys had clubbed together and had the phoro enlarged and put in a frame for me.

I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say. The kids had never done anything like this for me before and I was totally flabbergasted! Of course, I thanked the kids emencely for the kindness they had shown me. One of the boys, who I had helped on Friday night, (after more or less being rejected by his family for coming out as gay.) I stayed with him all night, as he was clearly in crisis and needed my support to get him through it – and he did get through it and was OK) said:

To us boarders, Kyle is the next nearest thing we have to a dad. He’s always there for us and knows what to say to help us, what ever it is we are going through.

Each of them got a hug from me and were thanks individually and as a group. After breakfast, the boys signed out for activities. I stayed on the unit as usual and got some paperwork done and kept nipping in and out looking after our poorly boarder. I also took him the games console and TV on a trolley, which we keep in the Play Specialist’s cupboard, for when boarders are poorly or  when kids have family visit. There is a games console in the communal lounge too.

After Lunch, (which on a Sunday, the Caterers do a Roast) the boys went to rehearsals for the school show, which is at the end of term. It meant I could see our kids, as they had come in with Sam. I also got the cards and gifts from our boys as well. (I got more smellies, a iTunes Gift Card and a car cleaning set for my Morris Minor. (Yes I know sad! I like my car tho) Now back on the unit and buried in paperwork, while the kids rehearse, I have managed to tell you why this has been the nicest Father’s day yet! The boarder who was unwell this morning, is feeling a bit better and is still on the unit, but is now well enough to of got dressed and is sitting in the lounge on the other games console. (Kids who are unwell are usually looked after on their unit, unless they are very poorly, which is when they are transferred to Sick Bay upstairs.)

When Kids Go Missing

Let me start this post, by saying that at our school, we have robust procedures that are followed, when ever a pupil in our care goes missing. However, there is not enough awareness of runaways and why they do it and I hope this post will help to give an incite into why kids runaway and as a school, how we deal with such issues.

Young People go missing for several reasons. Sometimes an argument causes youngsters to run away, sometimes it can be caused by bullying, sometimes it’s an act of rebellion and sometimes, kids just go missing for the thrill of it. When any of the kids in our care go missing, We as a school, have a “duty of care” and part of that duty, it is paramount that we act quickly and professionally and that the boy in question is found quickly.

So what do we do when one of our Young People go missing?

The 1st thing we do, is to do an extensive search of the school grounds, including the unit the young person is on and the main school as needed. We also put an alert out to all staff via staff radios. If a search brings no results, we ask the Boarders on his the unit, if they had seen the boarder in question. (Sometimes telling us about a den in the grounds or somewhere the boarders go when they want to be along, helps us to find the young person.) We also will try the young person’s mobile to make contact. (Each Unit has a list of young people’s mobile numbers.

If that doesn’t bring any results, I will get a phone call. I could be out with the kids or in the bath, but it means I need to get over to school ASAP. I will then be handed information about what has happened, at what time and those involved. Next, I call the Police (999)  and report the young person as missing. Meanwhile staff will search the Young Person’s room, to see if they have left any clues to where they are going. Meanwhile, I will go to Sam’s office and view the CCTV footage, to see which way the young person left the site and which direction he went.  I then have the wonderful job of phoning the boy in question’s Parents and informing them that their son is missing and  we have the Police out looking for him. I also have to contact Karen (our Head Teacher) and brief her. I then will ring the boy’s Social Worker (or the Emergency Duty Team if in the evening or at weekends or a Bank Holiday)

The Police will search his room, as well as speaking to pupils and staff, look at the CCTV and  circulate the information about the boy in question.  Meanwhile a spare member of staff will take the school car and drive around the local area. Sometimes it’s possible to find the boy in question, quite easily. I also will go through the browsing history on the unit PC’s as sometimes that gives us a clue on where they may have gone. I can get this from the Server for the networked PC’s in J Block,  which keeps a log of EVERY site they visit, even if they think they can be crafty and delete the browsing history on the PC. (The server is actually in the Server Room next to my office, so I can get to it quite easily if needed. Our Network interfaces the main school network and uses Community Connect. It means that the kids can access their files from school, via the same network.

Sometimes the Police bring the Young Person back and sometimes they come back on their own. When they return, a member of staff will call me and I will come back over to school. (Unless I am working, as I will already be on site.  A member of staff will remain with the boy in question, while I undertake a “return interview”. The return interview is not about telling the boy off for going missing. Instead it is about establishing why he went missing and how we can further support him. Of course, I will mention how dangerous going missing is. I remind the boy in question that he can come to me or any member of staff, if something is bothering them. If he wants to talk to me and I am not on shift, he can write a note and ask a member of staff to put it in my pigeon hole in the post room, on the ground floor of J Block; or use the computers on the units and send me a email. (Above the computers on the units is a poster, which has my work email address on it.) When I am back on shift, I will happily have a chat over a cup of tea. Of course, if one of the boys is distressed, I can be called and I will happily drive over to school. (In my Morris Minor of course!)

Finally, I have alot of paperwork to do when a boy goes missing, which is placed in his file, which is locked in the unit office filing cabinet.

When a boy is offsite, our staff are trained not to give chase. As stated above, a member of staff will drive round to try and locate the boy in question, while the group Leader will use their school mobile, to phone me. The police will be involved, if the boy in question is not found quickly and usual procedures will be followed.

I have only ever had to deal with a runaway once in all the time I have worked for the school. However, I think it is something that should be highlighted and that was why I wrote this article.