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Key player at the centre of childcare revolution

Tracy Wearn is a new kind of person in primary education - a key member of staff, a graduate but not a teacher, with a highly responsible job.

Appointed in 2003, her first task was to liaise with community and voluntary groups and to find ways in which they and the school could work together for the good of the families and the children.

It was probably harder than she admits. She was, after all, carrying a job title and a role that nobody had seen before, and was negotiating with people who had no experience of this kind of relationship with school. To meet her, though, is to know that she can do it. "I didn't have any clout at the beginning," she says. "But the important thing is not to be frightened to instigate dialogue with other agencies."

There were - and are - key issues around gathering agencies together to talk about children. There's confidentiality, for example, and the levels of responsibility at which information can be shared. All of this has to be clarified if meetings are to be comfortable and frank. The saving grace, she says, is that everyone's core purpose is around the welfare of the child.

"We've negotiated our way through our cultural and professional differences," she says. "We came into this with the knowledge that we all want to help the children, and that's got us through some difficult discussions."

It's been productively instructive for everyone, she says. "We've learned a lot about social care and health and how they work. In turn they've learned a lot about what teachers know about children and how valuable that knowledge is."

www.teachernet.gov.ukwholeschoolextendedschoolswww.4children.org.ukwww.pa renting.org.uk

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