Who got that job?

25th September 2009 at 01:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? This week, why Susan Fullerton opted to change direction

Susan Fullerton used to be a music teacher at a Dundee school, but it was her youth work experience in the evenings in Angus that helped her realise her passion lay in guidance and pupil support. "We tried to engage with the youngsters, identify their needs and work out a solution," she explained.

So after eight years in the music rooms of Menzieshill High, Ms Fullerton moved to Blairgowrie High to take up a full-time post as a pupil support teacher. She had been at Blairgowrie for two-and-a-half very enjoyable years when, the day before this year's summer holiday, she was appointed principal teacher of extended pupil support at the Kingsmuir Resource Centre, near Forfar.

She started her new job last month. The Compass Project at Kingsmuir Resource Centre is one of three projects in Angus catering for secondary- age pupils unable to cope in mainstream schools.

"Our focus is on reintegration, but that's not always possible," she said. "We are also looking to ensure that, after S4, our pupils move on to a positive destination."

Ms Fullerton is the only teacher based at the project, which can cater for up to six youngsters. She heads up a multi-agency team consisting of a resource worker and a support for learning assistant.

"We have a lot of young people with ADHD and autism," she said. "Social interaction is a big issue. Often the young people work pretty well one- to-one, but even a group of two or three can immediately become challenging."

At the project, the school day is shorter, running from 10am-3pm. The group eat breakfast and lunch together, with pupils involved in making the meals and clearing up afterwards.

"A lot of the young people will not have had the opportunity to sit down and eat a meal round a table before. Giving them the time to do that gives them the skills that will stand them in good stead in the future."

She enjoys the variety her new job brings. "Although you think you have a clear plan for the day, you have to adapt all the time. I like every day being different."

Lessons delivered at the centre tend to concentrate on English and maths, but the initiative also has a strong outdoor education programme which allows pupils to do everything from gorge-walking to go-karting. They also attend vocational courses at college and take part in work experience.

In the future, Ms Fullerton would like to increase group working among pupils and introduce a more varied curriculum, introducing more music and tapping into the expertise of the principal teachers heading up the other Angus projects.

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