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! 🙂

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!

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.

Asbestos Removal is Finally Over!

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Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel, as phase one of the B Block refurbishment is almost complete, now that all the Asbestos has been removed from the building. Most rooms in B Block had some form of Asbestos, which has has taken just over 4 months to remove.

Sam Says Safety First!

Asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed. In the workplace it is law that your employer has a Asbestos Register, which tells them where there may be Asbestos Containing Substances (ACM’s) and what type of Asbestos it is.

If you think you have accidentally disturbed Asbestos, immediately evacuate the area, then contact your Supervisor or Manager and ask them to check the Asbestos Register.

If it is asbestos you have accidentally disturbed, it may need to be “encapsulated” to make it safe, or it may require removal, by a company who specializes in asbestos removal.

The bottom line is: If you are not sure if there may be asbestos present, check the Asbestos Register, or speak to the Site Manager or who ever is in charge of your building.

The block can now be refurbished and the builders will be moving in on Wednesday, replacing all the electrics, plumbing, floors and ceilings. (Yup it needs mega gutting ans starting again) Hopefully by the end of the summer term, the work will be completed and we will be able to allow pupils into affected classrooms and use the link bridge between J and B Blocks.

In the summer hols, my army of helpers will be cleaning B Block and putting the rooms back together. (as well as Unit Deep Cleans) We do a deep clean on each unit within a day, which is remarkable. This includes steam cleaning all surfaces, including the carpets , removing rubbish, deep cleaning of lounges, offices, bathrooms, corridors, kitchens, changing of curtains (dirties go down to the laundry etc.)

Stay tuned for updates!

Yes, I know it has been ages!

Once again, sorry for the lack of posts, over the last few months. Sam and I have not had a chance to blog much, but we will try and keep you updated with what’s happening at our end, as much as we can.

So, here’s what’s been going on, condensed; as I am actually at work and posting this on my break.

Major Building Work on B Block

B Block at school is currently closed and has been, since November. The reason for this, is because of asbestos removal. B Block is riddled with it and it is cheaper to remove it, than spend millions knocking the block down and rebuilding. So we have hording all around B Block, access is currently blocked off and it means pupils need to go via D Block; to access A and C Block. We also have a temporary modular building, which currently holds the Kitchen and Canteen. (Once the asbestos is removed, we are having a new kitchen installed and a larger canteen area.

Work is going well and we hope that by April, all the building work will be done.

Poorly Toby

One of the kids we foster was taken very ill in the Summer Holidays, after getting Septis and was rushed into hospital while we were in Blackpool. Toby was well looked after at the Victoria Hospital, before being air lifted to Sheffield, for specialist ITU treatment. Sam stayed with him all the way and Toby made a full recovery.

The Septis was caused by a wound which got infected, after he had a kidney transplant. Toby came to us after his operation and a 3 week stay at the  Children’s Hospital in Sheffield. Our “Tobes” is getting better and stronger every day. He no longer uses a wheelchair or sticks, but gets tired very easily. Due to this, he uses the Day Teaching Unit on Sickbay, where if needed, he can rest.

Christmas and NYE

Christmas was very busy for us all. Sam was working on Christmas day, after the Care Staff accidentally activated the Fire Alarm, while cooking and the birds until lost all lighting, due to a fault with a light fitting.

I worked Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Waking Night (Christmas Eve) and Sleep In on NYE. We let the kids stay up on the Unit I am in charge of, to tire them out mainly, as they were so hyper about Christmas! (Can you blame them?)

On Christmas Morning, I drove home, opened presents with the kids and then went to bed. In the afternoon, the family arrived and we had Christmas Dinner, which got delayed, due to the fire alarm activation. (Sam had to respond to it) Later, I was back on night shift again.

I was off Boxing Day and worked days on the 27th – 30th. On New Year’s eve, we had a party over in the School Gym, which surprisingly, our Head and a few other teachers attended. (I wonder if she used the cattle prod to make them come.) Sam did his usual Karaoke and Disco, which was great fun. At midnight, we sang Auld Langs Ayne and rang in the new year together.

As I said, Sam and I will try to post as often as we can. We haven’t forgotton you, it’s a case of finding 5 mins to blog. Right break over, so back to work I go.

Finally… From myself, Sam, Toby, Kyrlo, Liam, Will, Linda, Derek, Tommy and Martha, (Tommy and Martha are my parents, Linda is Sam’s Mum and Derek is his Step Dad)  Sox the cat and and from all the staff here at school (boarders too) we would like to wish you a happy and safe new year and here’s to 2019!

Blocked Drains and Leaking Water Mains

So it started with an emergency call out to D Block to backed up toilets. The plunger didn’t sort the problem so got my drain rods n rodded the drains. I hit a blockage I was unable to pull up and out, so I called Dynorod who used better tools than I had, plus a camera. We found out the drains are collapsing and further down the pipe, erosion has caused rust which catches stuff as it passes down the pipe. (I will let your imagination work that one out) Dynorod cleared the pipe so the loos now flush and don’t back up!

Later, I got a call regarding a water leak in the canteen. Water was coming up through the floor in the kitchen. I attended and tried to turn off the water at the stopcock but it was well and truly jammed! WD40, a pair of mole grips and a hammer didn’t solve this problem, so I had to phone the water board to come and switch it off at their stop valve in the loading Bay.  Sadly I could not get to it as it was buried under a load of soil and we do not have the special key to turn the valve. After the water was shut off, I went to the supermarket for bottles of water for the kitchen. I then had to remove metal units from the floor and dig a bit to expose the pipe to repair it. I’ve filled the hole and fixed the lino. Thankfully the leak was in the washup area and not the main kitchen!!  After that, I got my wet and dry up and sucked up the water, which had flooded the floor.

I’ve been told that the floor does not need digging up, they can use a flexible liner of some sort and a balloon. Sounds a bit dodgy to me, though if the floor in D block does have to come up it will cause chaos, thanks to that awful substance called ASBESTOS!!!! The floor tiles contain it and are currently safe as they are not disturbed. (In the changing rooms) it could see D block shut for over a week, which means closing the swimming pool while the changing rooms have the asbestos removed. That will not be cheap and could cause problems.

The Kids Are Back!

The kids have returned after the summer break. On Friday, the Teachers had their INSET Day, (Teacher Training Day)  which happens before the autumn term starts. The first day of school is always very busy for Kyle and I. We have quite a few new Boarders starting, so there is plenty of paperwork for Kyle to complete. Boarders who were on Birds and Jets Units, have now moved to either Oaks, Acorns, Foxes or Squirrels Unit.

As for me, I have been on my usual workload as Site Manager, but I also gave a talk in this morning’s assembly, (which I do every year) about safety around the school, what to do if the fire alarms go off, (I use a CD I made that has the different fire alarm tones (Intermittent Warning Bells and Continuous Ringing of the fire bells –  Evacuation) as well as what to do if see a stranger etc)

To improve security around the site, the Reception Desk at the base of Junior House is now manned 24 \ 7 by Security Staff. They allow the kids through the interior security doors to the stairs \ lift and corridor to the ground floor units, as well as phoning the offices on the 4th floor, when there a visitors that need greeting, plus monitoring the CCTV and patrolling the grounds on a regular basis. Our security team are friendly and professional and like any other member of non teaching \ admin staff, wear blue school polo shirts and wear photographic ID, so that they can be recognised easily. There are always 3 security staff on duty at one time. 2 monitor the network of 50 cameras, which protect the school, (Inside and outside) with one security officer patrolling the exterior of the grounds once a hour. The other member of security is on Junior House Reception. Security report directly to me, if there is a problem and know how to page me, call my office and know my home and mobile contact numbers; if needed.

A hour and 5 mins till I knock off and there is so much still to do, so for now I will say tara and get on with some work!

Operation Deep Clean!

It’s been a very busy few weeks for the Domestics Team and I, as we have been preparing the school for the new school year. This is a task that should not be taken lightly,  as it is the only time of the year, we can perform a deep clean of the school. It takes me and 15 Housekeepers, with the help of a fgew volunteers (Mum, some of the Teaching Assistants and a few off duty Care Staff) to perform the yearly “blitz” of the school.

Towards the end of the Spring Term, we begin planning a deep clean operation. It takes a team of cleaners to get our school deep cleaned and to leave it fresh and clean for the beginning of term. Below are some statistics of what has to be deep cleaned every year, which gives you a flavor of how big a job deep cleaning really is!

  • Around 8 miles of carpets have to be steam cleaned every summer. (This includes classrooms, Corridors, stairwells and boarding units.
  • 275 windows were cleaned internally and externally
  • Over 600 desks, tables and chairs were steam cleaned through the site
  • All surfaces in the kitchens were deep cleaned, using high pressure water, mixed with heavy duty cleaner.
  • Over 500 light shades and light fittings are deep cleaned. (This includes florescent lights)
  • 200 toilet bowls, cisterns and urinals deep cleaned, along with 110 sinks, 30 showers,  and 8 bath tubs!
  • We used 20L of chewing gum remover to remove chewing gum from the bottoms of tables, chairs and other fixtures.
  • We used around 50L of descaler on sanitary fittings
  • We used a fleet of 20 vacuum cleaners, made up of “Henry’s” and Serbo’s, as well as 3 industrial wet and dry machines
  • We used over 200 hoover bags, during deep cleaning
  • We use over 50L of water to steam clean the corridors, offices, boarding units and classrooms
  • Every mattress on the units and Sick Bay were taken outside and are sprayed for bedbugs.
  • To deep clean a unit, takes around 8 hours. Once the borders are up, dressed and had breakfast, they are asked to vacate the unit. There personal possessions are noted down and carefully put in boxes and then the unit is cleaned top to bottom. By evening, when the boarders return from their activity off site, the unit is fully cleaned.
  • To deep clean the Residential block from top to bottom, takes around 8 days to complete. Sick Bay is the hardest area to clean, as it is constantly in use. So top deal with that, one side is closed while deep cleaning is carried out. Once on side is done, we close the other side and repeat the process. The unit deep cleans have to be planned carefully as well!
  • Several pairs of socks and other items of clothes were uncovered while cleaning the school and Junior House
  • 15 miles of pipework is thoroughly cleaned during the deep clean, including  water, radiator and drain pipes!
  • Talking of drainpipes, we used 20L of sink & plughole unblocker to remove hair and grease from several sinks, showers and bath waste traps and plugholes.
  • I repaired several plugs on sinks and bathtubs, where the chain had come loose.
  • I fixed 13 “Pull & Clank Iron Bell” High Level Toilet Cisterns, which were in need of attention, due to the kids pulling the chain too hard and causing the flush handle to fall into the cistern. (You can’t beat the sound of a “pull and clank” cistern when it is being flushed!)
  • 200 vertical blinds are carefully dismantled, cleaned and put back up.
  • Even the swimming pool does not get away with not being deep cleaned! The pool was drained in July, the tiles checked and the whole interior of the pool jet washed before refilling! The poolside also was jet washed, as well as the changing rooms being deep steam cleaned and the plant equipment serviced.
  • The laundry machines were disinfected, along with the floor and drainage channels
  • The 5 sluice rooms in Junior House were deep cleaned, using high pressure water. This included the sluice sinks, the interior of the Macatator machines (with disinfectant) and the walls, which were manually washed down.
  • All ventilation vents were cleaned and any dust harboring round the vents removed.
  • The curtains in the Hall were all taken down and sent for dry cleaning. The curtains require scaffold towers to take down and put back up; so it is good they only need a clean once a year!
  • The majority of furniture from classrooms were put either in the corridors or in other classrooms while deep cleaning was carried out.
  • Over 1000 electrical items got PAT Tested (Portable Appliance Test) while we were deep cleaning. (We had a company come in to do this)
  • Finally, the chandler in the entrance hall of the school had to be cleaned while in situ. Again, we had a specialist company to come in and do this for us and meant that for 6 hours, the front entrance to the school could not be used, as we had a scaffold tower erected.

So we are nearly finished with deep cleaning. I just have a little bit of painting to do and a few cracked tiles to replace, but it has been an exhausting few weeks through August, to get the school spick and span. I know I only just had a holiday, but I could do with another – I am knackered!