Getting ready for Open Churches Week 2017
St Michael’s is in the South Lynn area of King’s Lynn. This community is made up of a mix of families from Eastern Europe, those who live in social housing and many families who are generationally living within the area in low socio-economic conditions. For the school, this community brings many strengths and opportunities, but also challenges and barriers to overcome.
St Michael’s has a restorative and proactive approach to many aspects of a child’s development. As a church school, we have a strong tradition of a values-driven ethos. The Church of England values link with our school ones, which the children have chosen as important to them.
Our worship calendar has the values from both areas built into it. However as a school we do not want to ‘preach’ the values at the children. It is crucial that we view our approach as holistic and one which touches every aspect of what we do.
We use certain tools to build a framework. Children are nominated and praised for showing our values in action. We constantly seek those opportunities to highlight where it has helped to solve a problem. We also use a programme to aid children to learn social and emotional skills. This helps them to give their emotions a name and to learn to recognise them, think of ways to cope with them and how to help others.
For the majority of our children this supports their social, emotional and spiritual well-being. However for some children there are deeper issues for them to battle with. These range from anger management, emotional abuse, post-traumatic stress and difficult family circumstances. Some of these children find school hard; they can be defiant, angry and lash out easily. They are often at risk of exclusion or have come to us as excluded from other schools.
We develop individual plans which look at the child’s environment, the set-up of their day. We think about what may have gone on before they came into school and help them to adjust and focus if they need this time.
We think of ways to reinforce and praise their coping strategies when we see them being used and we have a reaction plan for when things may become too much. These plans are shared with all our staff so that an individual approach is understood and we use it consistently.
We don’t blame the child for their behaviour but we try to work with them to understand what is going on, what they are trying to communicate to us and how to move them forward.
Some days can be frustrating with our most needy children. Our plans constantly have to be flexible and adapt. However, those moments of sunshine come when a troubled child develops the self-realisation that ‘I can do this; I will make it work for me’. When you see them ultimately setting their own goals and targets about who they want to be and how they want to improve, it makes the long journey so worthwhile.