As a mainstream head of geography, I loved the craft of communicating ideas, designing the curriculum and creating learning. But after seven years I began to take a greater interest in the students who struggled to succeed.
The experience of one student in particular was central to this.
He was a Year 7 boy in my form group. Though he was often in trouble, it was rarely serious – and so I remember him more for how popular and funny he was. When he took the lead role in our school play, he was fantastic.
But in year 8, things unravelled for him. His dad was removed from the home because of violence towards his mother and her children; his elder brother was jailed; and he was finally taken into the care of his Grandma when his mother suffered a mental breakdown.
He was increasingly unable to cope in school and serious incidents escalated rapidly. In the end, there were a number of exclusions, a short period in the PRU, and then – after one final incident – he disappeared.
Back then, I didn’t know how I could have supported him better, nor what the school could have done differently. But I wanted to understand. That led me to apply for a new job as a teacher in Tower Hamlets PRU…
Make a difference
Fast forward three years, and I left my job at Thomas Tallis to spread that Inclusion framework further.
At The Difference, we give teachers an opportunity to walk a similar career path to mine.
Teachers on The Difference Leaders Programme leave middle or senior leadership roles to take up a two-year senior leadership placement in a PRU, alongside training informed by the Inclusion Framework.
At the end of the two years we hope that the skills they have learnt will help them return to mainstream, to reduce exclusion by improving the school’s capacity to meet all pupils’ wellbeing, safeguarding and learning needs.
Read the full article here: Shaun Brown: Geography specialist & Deputy Head to Programme Lead at The Difference