We give pupils what they never had

8th April 2005 at 01:00
Maureen Smyth is head of school at New Rush Hall.

"I get here at 8.15, and often there are people scheduled to see me. We have a culture in the school where you have to finish your day properly and take responsibility for whatever has gone wrong. If you don't, you have to come in next morning, with a parent, and resolve things.

Some mornings I have a management team meeting with the New Rush Hall Group. There are eight of us, and we have an identity that gives us strength, rather than being isolated and undervalued. We can look to see if children are inappropriately placed within the group, and if there is a better place to meet their needs.

I do a staff briefing at the start of the week, and intake conferences with other professionals when a child is referred to the school. Often it's best to have a meeting first with the parents, to see how you can work together.

Sometimes parents don't want to send their child to an EBD school, but they need to acknowledge there is a problem.

Inclusion meetings take place every month or so with the outreach team and our teachers, so we can anticipate what is coming up. Some schools are resistant to having children back, but others, who don't have children here, are welcoming.

I used to teach Spanish here, and I'm sorry not to have time now, but I do cover for other staff. In a school like this you are never off duty - often the times between lessons are chances for misbehaving.

I do a lot of walking and talking, and geeing people up. A big part of my job is containing teachers' anxieties - by being there, and by modelling things, like preventing conflict.

Occasionally it feels like a thankless job. But it is also enormously satisfying. To me, we compensate children for things they haven't had."

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