A few weeks ago, a boy ran away from school in the middle of the day. He'd got angry about something and his reaction was to run. I followed him for an hour, down the street, around the estate, and finally to his home, where I spent two hours talking to his family and getting to know them. He agreed to come back to school that afternoon.
As a School-Home Support worker, I can help children and families in ways that teachers might not be able to. If a child is difficult it's often down to issues at home, such as separation, bereavement or alcohol problems. Teachers are incredibly busy, whereas I have time to build relationships with families. Parents like the fact I'm an outsider - they don't feel I'm interfering or judging them. The boy who ran off is doing better now. This morning we meet for our regular counselling session. Children his age won't sit and talk for an hour, but we do art therapy and play games to improve his anger management.
At 10.30am it's time for the weekly coffee morning I hold for parents. It's just a drink and a chat, but it gets them into school and makes them more likely to come to me if there's a problem. At lunchtime, my door is open and pupils drop in for a chat. It's all about building trust. If you do that, children will talk freely about what's bothering them, often when you least expect it.
After lunch, I make a home visit, checking on a child who's been absent today. Then I call at Thornywood - a local centre where some pupils with mental health problems spend a day each week. I like to show my face, just to offer moral support.
This job was a big career change for me. I used to be a graphic designer, but didn't find it fulfilling. Now, when you help a family understand that change is possible, and work with them towards that, it's rewarding, because you know that you're making a difference.
School-Home Support is a charity that builds bridges between home and school. The charity has trained workers in 175 schools around the UK. For more information visit www.schoolhomesupport.org.uk.