The Seldom Seen Kids

Here is a little project I’ve been working on along with my head teacher, the brilliant Giles Barrow who I have mentioned elsewhere and some others including a fantastic Lead Worker who we appointed a little way in. I originally wrote this to explain what it was all about for the teaching staff at my school but thought it might be of some interest so have amended it and posted it here.

The Crossover

What’s The Crossover all about?

If you’ve ever seen a register that features students’ names that you just can’t put a face to because they are never there then you’ve met – or not – the students that The Crossover is aimed at. Those of you who have looked at a RAISEonline graph and seen the students who are so far below the 1000 line for CVA that they almost fall off the bottom of the page also know these students, even if it’s just as dots on the graph. You’re not alone in not knowing much about them as very few, if any of us do.

 So the first step for The Crossover is knowing these students and for them to know us. At the moment they are not accessing any education at all, not part of the family of a school, not interacting with any other children and not developing basic social and life skills, let alone accessing what we would recognise as an academic curriculum. While we are hopeful of more, for some of them developing this skillset may be as much as they achieve; knowing how to be safe physically and emotionally, knowing how to put a meal together and sit around a table and eat it together, knowing how to express themselves and communicate with others, knowing what their basic needs are and how to satisfy them.

While we are helping these students to develop a social pedagogy and move through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and through what we might most easily recognise as the Every Child Matters agenda (remember that? Do they not all matter anymore?!) The Crossover will also be helping them to develop literacy and numeracy skills and where possible, and at a rate applicable to the individual needs and development, recognise these through qualifications and certification. These will be at a number of levels and may be GCSEs in some cases but this is not the deciding factor in terms of student progress. At the moment these students aren’t known, aren’t attending and as a result aren’t getting any kind of input at all so knowing who they are, that they are interacting and that they are developing attributes, skills and knowledge at all is a massive leap forward.

So what does it look like?

The Crossover is staffed by a team of three. It’s still linked to our school and is part of our overall family but is a very different place. It was a very conscious decision not to staff it with teachers and not to replicate a school as these students just don’t attend a school shaped provision. In fact in the initial conversations before a name was decided it was simply referred to as Not School. 

We have a Lead Worker at The Crossover who is responsible for the overall curriculum and ethos of the place. She is line managed directly by the head teacher supported by myself and she herself manages a Literacy and Numeracy Tutor and Family Support and Liaison worker. 

All three will be based at The Crossover which is above a building called The Crossing in the centre of Lowestoft but will also be working in students’ homes and potentially out in town as we begin to look for things like job placements for students to further develop their experience, skillset and prospects.

The lead worker also be responsible for identifying students and bringing them into The Crossover and will do some of this work in conjunction with our Pastoral Heads of House and also feeder primaries as we identify those students who have the potential to go off the radar in between there and here. Ultimately, the lead worker will be responsible for the progress of the students in this provision, and she will also be the gatekeeper in discussion with the head regarding students attending the Crossover. 

We have two floors of the building but are beginning in one and have been able to design it to meet our own requirements. We’ve put in a kitchen and dining room, a large open space that could be used for study and tutorial work and also some more recreational spaces. These students don’t learn in traditional environments so it won’t look or feel like a school and it’s not a traditional learning space but every space is somewhere where learning will take place. 

What about other kids? Aren’t there others at the school that could benefit from this sort of provision?

The simple answer to this is that if they are at school then they aren’t the sort of students that The Crossover is designed for. If they are already accessing mainstream school they have managed to overcome the issues that are preventing these students from attending and will have their needs met, either as part of the mainstream curriculum, by accessing the alternative provision already in place or as a combination of both.

Hopefully in time we may see some students moving from The Crossover to the school but except for exceedingly rare and isolated cases students will not be going from the existing school to The Crossover. It’s not somewhere kids go who are here but not engaging, or presenting behavioural difficulties so get referred. Once they’re attending school they’re not the sort of students the provision is aimed for.

One group that falls outside of this is students with long term illnesses who of course have very different reasons for not attending and may have been accessing a regular curriculum for some time. The Crossover staff will also work with these students, most likely at home, and will support them continuing with their studies, but through our staff and linked more closely to the school than can be the case with some who are currently receiving home tuition through other agencies.

So what’s the role of classroom teachers?

For the most part the existing staff of the school won’t see much difference in respect of The Crossover. The team there will work with the Pastoral Heads of House to identify students and keep the flow of information open and as the work there develops the Lead Worker may start to chart the work done there and cross reference this with literacy and numeracy targets or curriculum with English and Maths and there may be some work provided for long term absences as we would do now but it will generally work fairly autonomously and be accountable directly to the head. The main difference for the rest of us will be knowing that someone can put a face to those names on the registers.

So that’s The Crossover. It’s early days but I think it’s something special and I’m most proud of that fact that we’re dealing with and providing for those invisible or unknown students – the seldom seen kids. As it gets more established I hope to write some case studies so will be back with more!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNfHBKyKgmA

Lots of Love

Colin

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2 thoughts on “The Seldom Seen Kids

  1. Very very interested in how this works…sounds like somethign I’ve been looking for for some time.

    • As I say it’s early days and we’re still developing personalised curriculum and sorting some logistics like ICT access at home and school for those attending but I know the boss would be delighted to host you if you wanted to visit. You’ll need some jeans with you though as no suits and ties allowed down there!

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