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New Support Staff Appointments
Amongst all the political turmoil and turbulence of recent years, we have seen it as our responsibility to create a calm, safe and nurturing climate for learning that allows all our students to ignite their talents and curiosity, develop them and flourish. To aid this in recent months we have made a number of changes and appointments of staff to ensure we have a network of support measures to meet every child’s needs, and I want to take this opportunity to update you on these developments, so that you can ensure your son or daughter takes full advantage of what is on offer.
Please see below a list of the new appointments made in recent months:
In June this year we appointed Rosie Wallis as our Careers Adviser. Rosie, who works 20 hours a week, is a highly qualified, experienced careers coach [who is a Registered Career Development Professional with the Careers Development Institute]. The role of a Careers Adviser has changed considerably in recent years. It is a gross mis-perception that they suggest a range of jobs a person could do on the basis of a 5-minute interview. Rosie forms part of a wider package of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) in line with the new Gatsby Benchmarks which Waingels deliver to all students from year 7 to 13. As we live in a changing global market, with increasing dependence on technology and political and economic change, there is rarely a job for life. CEIAG has developed alongside this and seeks to support students to become resilient to change, understand decision making, manage information and be able to articulate their own skills to navigate their own journey. In this complex world that our students are growing up in, Rosie aims to be approachable and work holistically to make them feel supported, develop skills and address barriers to learning to take their next steps. Working within the school, she can then work closely with teaching and pastoral staff to benefit all of our students.
Our counselling service for students is provided by ARC https://arcweb.org.uk/ allowing us to have a fully trained counsellor in school every day. This is a flexible arrangement which means that if demand increases we can ask for additional hours. Roz Hayes and Thea Foxwell are also on hand to supplement this service. Students can refer themselves using a simple form available in the Den. However, referrals are usually made by tutors and Heads of Year. The conversations between students and counsellors are confidential unless either a student asks or agrees to the counsellor passing on information, or if the student discloses information that indicates a risk to the child’s safety in which case a referral is made to our safeguarding team.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
To support students who struggle with anxiety, stress or low mood, we have a team led by Roz Hayes. Roz Hayes is a full time advocate for mental health issues with a particular focus on responding to emerging local area needs such as anxiety surrounding Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), social anxiety, exam stress and self-harm to name a few. As part of this team we have Mr Pole who is taking a lead on targeting mental health and wellbeing for boys. We also have Miss Robinson who oversees our peer mentoring programmes and anti-bully initiatives. We are proud to be in a position to offer such a broad spectrum of support for our students and would encourage parents/carers or young people themselves to get in touch should you have any enquiries surrounding this information HayRHY@waingels.wokingham.sch.uk.
Waingels is a large school with over 1300 students. Included in this number are students who have a range of medical conditions and needs – from mild to some very severe. It is a great testament to the resilience these children demonstrate, that they do not complain, but manage their health conditions and medication with calm and quiet dignity. Like other schools, we support the health service by offering the opportunity for girls and boys to receive a range of vaccinations and of course, we also have our fair share of bumps, cuts and bruises if children get hurt in PE or fall in the courtyard. Up until now, again, like most schools, we have managed these with the goodwill of staff who are trained in first aid or non-specialist admin staff.
However, from January we have appointed a qualified and experienced nurse to be a Health Adviser for our students. Sarah Jones will be based in The Den, where our medical room is situated and will work alongside our mental health and well-being advocate. Her role will evolve as she settles in and gets to know our students but it will mean that she will manage our medical needs register and she will be the first port of call for all parents with children who have a medical condition; she will be our first responder for all first aid, and she will plan and arrange all vaccinations.
It is stating the obvious that there is a clear link between attendance, learning and achievement. Students who are absent from school miss out on learning and therefore achieve less well. We have appointed Beki Philp to the role of School Attendance Officer. Beki checks on attendance every morning, sends absence texts if a child is not in school and she sends out reminders and updates to keep you informed if your child’s attendance begins to fall.
With regard to holidays during term time we adhere absolutely to the department for education’s stance and that is that we will only authorise such absence in exceptional circumstances. And, if parents choose to take the holiday anyway and we believe their absence is having a detrimental impact on their learning we reserve the right to instruct the Education Welfare Service to prosecute.
What you can do to help:
- Wherever possible, arrange for orthodontist, dentist and medical appointments to be made outside school hours and always return students to school if possible.
- Encourage resilience by encouraging students to persevere if they are feeling a bit under the weather. This is, of course, often a fine judgment call.
Punctuality to school and lessons is vital to teach our students respect for good time management and it ensures lessons and school activities can start promptly and without disruption. We are well aware that traffic congestion in and around Woodley can be very bad and we would not want to penalise students for lateness when this is beyond their control.
Part of Beki's role is to monitor punctuality to school. If students are late – and have no legitimate reason - then we expect them to make up that time during social time or after school so as not to disturb their learning time.
In September we appointed a Pastoral Support Manager. Jo Polle is a vastly experienced SENCo, teacher and pastoral lead. She has a specialism in supporting students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Jo is based in Reflect, upstairs in the Community Zone. Reflect is a base for students who need a bit of extra support or a short period of respite before returning to lessons.
Liaising with teachers, parents, external professionals and support teams within schools, a range of behaviour management strategies can be applied to motivate students and help them reflect on their own feelings and behaviours. The aim is to help students, reflect, re-regulate and experience success within school.
Deborah Farley has recently joined us after working in the school admissions office in Wokingham. She will be the first port of call for any student or parent who wants to join us or who has been allocated a place. Deborah will book in visits, tours and meetings with the relevant staff and she will make sure all new students have a smooth transition. Deborah is based in the School Office and also supports Heads of Year.