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. 😦

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.

When The Kids Shock You With Their Talents!

On Friday, at our weekly £It’s The Weekend Party,” (Which we do in the Sports Hall and is Karaoke and Disco, which is very popular with the kids) a lad, who was placed at our school just before the Easter Break, shocked me, shocked Sam and shocked the other kids with his voice. The lad I am talking about is 14 and is very shy. However, he decided to sing on Friday night, something Sam has never been requested to play.

He had requested to sing Nessun Dorma, which is by Luciano Pavarotti. It is a track that is very hard to sing and I got to give it to this lad, because he shocked everyone. The song is difficult as it was and on the last part, where he sings the line

Dilegua, oh notte!  Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò! Vincerà! Vincerò!

shocked everyone, as the last part you really need to hold the note for quite a while. When he sang the final Vincerò! he held the last note, which caused me to drop my drink. I have not seen a child be able to sing like this, ever! It was a right shock and he got a standing ovation from the care staff and the other kids. Aparently he was taught to sing like this by his Grandad. It’s amazing!

Meanwhile, I have moved to a temporary office, while the roof in J Block is repaired. (As you will already know, my office is on the top floor of the building) So now I am in a Portakabin for the next few weeks, while the roof is repaired and the top floor offices are repainted and re-carpeted, after water ingress, due to the leaking roof.  It will do for now. Our 2 floor Portakabin is behind J Block at the moment and you can see the Laundry and Boiler House in the background. I must also thank Sam for helping us move everything out. Our Portakabin may be smaller and we have no kitchen for making brews, (we have to do that from the General Care Office) but at least it’s water tight and at least we have loos!

I got rather peeved this afternoon, when I get a call from one of the Units, as a parent had turned up and decided she wanted her son to come home.  However she knows he can’t as there is a Care Order.

A care order is given by a court. It allows a council to take a child into care. Under the Children Act 1989 a council can apply for a care order if it believes a child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm.

The court decides if the child can be taken into care.

Care orders last until:

  • the child’s 18th birthday
  • an order is made giving parental responsibility to another person – eg through adoption or special guardianship
  • the court lifts the order (this is called ‘discharging’ the order)

This boarder in question, has been with us for a couple of  years now.

The Care Order means by law, we are responsible for the care of this child. His mum turning up just made matters worse, so I got a call to come and deal with it. (As I am on Call this all of this weekend) Thankfully her son didn’t get to hear all the commotion or he would of ended up being very upset.

The mother of this child does not know when to keep her mouth shut and all I got was verbal abuse. I know the kids sometimes tell me to F*** off, but this woman’s every sentence had the F word in it.  I had had enough and asked her to leave. Of course she refused, so I asked her again and got told where to stick it. So I pulled out my phone and I called the Police. (999) She got arrested for breaching the peace and more than likely will be locked up until tomorrow. As for the boarder in question, I did speak to him and let him know what had happened. He wasn’t impressed.

While it’s dry, I am heading out to the garden and play footie with our boys.

Movie Night

Tonight, I was on Acorns Unit, which is where our Year 10s and Year 11s board and  (volunteering my time, as I was on a 7 – 3 shift earlier, so did some unpaid overtime) enjoyed Movie Night with the boys. We decided to watch Kingsmen: The Secret Service;  (In case you did not know, our Boarders are Special Needs, with some behavioral problems; so they live on site all year round.)

The movie is about the recruitment and training of the next special Service Agent, who will stop Valentine from activating a chip, which will cause mass extinction of man from Earth. The chosen Agent, (Eggsy) ends up in a mass battle with Valentine’s henchmen and soon gets stuck. He asks Merlin to activate the mind control chips, leading to Valentine’s henchmen having their heads blow off (Done to the tune of Land Of Hope And Glory!) The death of Valentine, stops the signal to a satellite, which in turn; would activate the chips in the millions of people who have had it implanted in them.

I made sure that the kids had treats, (as it was movie night) so we had crisps, cola and popcorn. (Sweet and salty, which the Boarders helped me prepare; in the unit kitchen) Normally Cola is banned from school property, but on special occasions and on nights like movie night, I bend the rules a little. 🙂

By the way, for those that have not seen Kingsmen: The Secret Service, where have you been hiding!!? One of the best scenes is the “head exploding scene” , trhe scene where Eggsy knicks a car and also the pub fight scene, which is very funny. “Manners Makith Man”

One of those nights!

Well, it’s 02:42 and I am up again, because Kyrlo is having one of those nights again, where he’s had a very bad nightmare and has been really distressed. I have just got him back to sleep and hes fast asleep on the settee in mine and Sam’s Study.

The poor wee lad has been to hell and back but he is slowly getting there. We are teaching him grounding techniques, which help him to deal with flashbacks.  Also he has periods where he stares into outer space and will not respond to you speaking him. So we have been shown another technique, where we hold his hand and say in very calm voice, “Kyrlo it’s Kyle, you are safe and you are at home. I am not going anywhere until I know your are OK. If you can hear me, squeeze my hand”. It does work and it  helps him to safely come out from a flashback, which usually is terrifying.

The top priority is to make sure Kyrlo is safe and that he knows we are there to support and protect him. The other kids know to look for the signs of Kyrlo having a flashback and to find one of us right away. Recovery for someone who has suffered such severe and prolonged trauma is slow, but with the support Kyrlo gets, I know he will be fine; even if it takes years of therapy until the end of his teenage years!)

I am off back to bed now, so I am gonna carry the wee lad back to bed and hopefully get some shut eye, as I am at work at 7am!