Making a big difference on the doorstep

11th November 1994 at 00:00
A day in the life of a school-home support worker in East London 8.45am Arrive in school and spend time in the playground chatting with parents and children.

9am Wait for latecomers and enter their names in the late book. Children who are persistently late are visited by me and have their names read out by the head in the whole school assembly on Friday.

10am I start on my visits: * Boy who often takes Monday off because he dislikes swimming. We have had long-term problems with this family over absence. He answers the door and starts to cry. His mother comes to the door and says he has a headache. I explain that he must come to school and that I think he hates swimming. She agrees.

After a while, he comes out and I take him to school screaming and shouting. His mother admits she has little control over him and finds him a handful. He gets his own way too often.

* Another boy who is usually a good attender has been away for three days and we haven't heard from his family. I discover that he has chicken pox. His absence is now authorised. I remind the parents that a phone call would be helpful in future.

* I have collected some good second-hand baby clothes and a pushchair for a family who have just had their sixth baby and are desperately short of money. They are very grate-ful but tell me they are desperate for a baby chair. I promise to bring one as soon as poss-ible.

* Two children did not come back to school after going home for dinner yesterday. I tell their parents that it is unacceptable to take them for a haircut during school time.

* I explain to the parents of a boy who swore at a primary helper that this is why he will be outside the headteacher's room at playtime all week instead of playing outside.

12noon Lunchtime. If I have paperwork to do, I use this time to get started.

1pm Check the registers again to see if any children have not returned from lunch at home. I find one who says he had tummy ache. The parent confirms this. As he is not usually away, I accept this and remind them that he must bring a letter.

1.45pm We are having a clothing sale today so I spend an hour sorting the clothes, throwing away all the damaged articles and making a sack of adultlarge clothes for a jumble sale.

3pm Quick visit to a parent whose child is going away again on a Children's Country Holidays Fund trip.

3.30pm The clothes sale is a great success. The hall is filled with parents and children. We sell everything for 5p or 10p and make some money for the school fund.

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