Who got that job?

30th January 2009 at 00:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? In an occasional series starting today, we find out

The job description sounds like two entirely different career paths: heading up one of a school's key departments, or working one-to-one with looked-after children. Not in Inverclyde Council, which recently advertised the new role of corporate parenting principal teacher at St Stephen's High in Port Glasgow.

It was the ideal job for Roslyn Friel, who took up post this month. She started her career as a business studies teacher at Plockton High, but quickly developed an interest in helping the most vulnerable young people. She spent several years at Glasgow's Langside College, where, as well as imparting her expertise in management and business, she became senior lecturer for social inclusion. She arrived in Inverclyde two years ago to work in Greenock's Mearns Centre with S3-4 pupils encountering emotional and behavioural difficulties.

The move to St Stephen's High allows her to build on that while teaching. "I wouldn't like to give that up, but I also enjoy the co-ordinating aspect the role involves," she says.

The job is a new one and requires Ms Friel, 43, to oversee the work of three existing corporate parenting teachers. In essence, as her boss Colin Laird - head of lifelong learning and educational support - explains, she is co-ordinating the educational provision for children looked after by the authority. "My job is to ensure that every looked-after child is accessing their education, to assist the school in reducing exclusion rates, and increase attainment," she says.

The role is believed to be unique in Scotland to Inverclyde, although there is a similar post in West Lothian.

Ms Friel and her team visit children's units to provide support to young people. Like any other teacher, their duties include helping children understand new concepts and explore the curriculum. Ms Friel says a big part of their work is to help fill the "often very big gaps" in looked-after children's education. They only teach, however, alongside more conventional teachers and on a one-to-one basis - they do not have classes of their own.

Ms Friel also co-ordinates support for reviews and hearings when necessary, while the authority has asked her to oversee young people who are looked after at home. She works closely with specialists such as social workers and educational psychologists, but, with one foot in social inclusion and another in education, has the potential to provide a particularly comprehensive overview of a child's situation.

The role boosts Inverclyde's reputation as a pioneer of corporate parenting. The authority previously made news in 2007 when all senior officials were given responsibility for a looked-after young person in the council's care.

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