Springwell Lincoln welcomed a new Assistant Principal, Natalie Myers to the team in September.
I joined Springwell after a 13 year career in Mainstream education. In that time I was a Head of Department, Lead Teacher and then had leadership responsibilities for Teaching & Learning and later
Curriculum and Outcomes.
I always shied away from an inclusion role as I felt it wasn’t my area of strength but circumstances meant that I had to lead on that area. My first challenge was to visit our students who were accessing Alternative Provision. I was shocked at the varying quality out there and met an inspirational leader at Doncaster Council who was raising standards of AP. With her help we successfully placed a vulnerable student who had been persistently absent and had complex needs. My interest in high quality AP and how they re-engaged the most hard to reach students had been piqued. That same year I was involved in the Permanent Exclusion of a pupil. This process affected me deeply and I began to question whether the
mainstream education system I was part of was meeting the needs of its most vulnerable students.
After two weeks of intensive Summer Training with the Difference, I arrived at Springwell Lincoln with a mix of excitement and trepidation. My fellow Difference Leaders had gone some way to assuaging any fears. Wellspring Trust is held in high regard, many had accessed training, had read blogs and articles and asked if they could visit! My new Leadership Team had also been fantastic in preparing me for the first day, even down to my questions about what to wear and whether I should bring food. My first days were spent in Team Teach Training. The key message of 95% of the work we do being de-escalation made some of my niggling fears disappear.
Having this training delivered by the Care Team who work within the centres made me realise just how high the level of expertise in dealing with challenging behaviour was. By the end of the first week I was astounded at the amount of useful information shared and how quickly I was made to feel part of the team.
The first few weeks have flown by and some key differences have stood out for me. Firstly, the whole school is one team. There is no division of labour like mainstream, no ‘that’s his job’, everyone works together in the best interests of the students. Secondly the culture of unconditional positive regard permeates all interactions, not just with students but with families, staff and other professionals. It is
easy to see why some of the most hard to reach young people flourish here. Thirdly, the relentless focus on the importance of learning. In mainstream, if a student is removed from class you can expect them to be elsewhere for a prolonged period. Here, the focus is on getting that individual back into the learning
environment as quickly as possible because, at the heart of it, that’s what we are here for. That has made me question the attitudes I held in my previous role, punishing students by removing them from learning now seems counter intuitive.
I am incredibly excited to be part of Springwell Lincoln and look forward to learning from my colleagues, whilst also bringing my own expertise to contribute to their journey to becoming an outstanding provider.
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