Firstly, some excellent news with regards to our Severe and Complex Needs provision. We now have a preferred candidate for the post of DHT (ASN). Mrs Sarah Fleming is currently the Acting DHT at Saltersgate school in Midlothian, and brings a wealth of experience from both mainstream and specialist school provisions. We hope she will be able to join us for the whole of the summer term, in order to support transition in partnership with our families.
As we head closer to the school opening, it is natural that a few questions have come up from our community regarding the planning around safeguarding in a building of this scope and scale. It is therefore a good time to bring some of these queries together. I hope that the following supports you in building a picture of how we will move forward with this crucial area of work.
I currently chair a sub group of the Campus Board, which has the specific role of planning for the use of the building by organisations other than education. Although this work is ongoing, the following has been established:
The school (including SCN provision) will be the only organisation fully operational in the building in August 2023.
Other partners will gradually ‘move into’ the building over a period of several months. This means there will be sufficient time to set up, monitor and evaluate user protocols with one partner at a time.
Once the building is open, we will form a Partnership Board, to ensure that there are regular meetings between all partners.
This will allow us an ongoing focus on overall health and safety, as well as a very specific focus on safeguarding. As Head of Establishment as well as Head of the School, I will chair this Board.
There are no immediate plans for any organisations beyond education to use areas serving the school during the school day.
It is possible that this could change in the longer term as we develop the Partnership Board and get to know the building better. All of our partners are fully supportive of our staged approach.
With regards to the building design, please note the following:
The building incorporates as range of ‘zones’ which are accessed through swipe card controls.
For example, someone who attends an event in the Community wing of the building would not be able to access the main school building without being granted access. The only exception to this is through a couple of fire doors that are required by building control. However, these are alarmed and would alert facilities management staff immediately to any attempted breach.
The main ‘school’ entrance leads to a secured area, which includes the school office.
To proceed any further than this, a visitor would need to be ‘swiped’ in to the main atrium and beyond.
This leads on to the links between the school Dress Code and supporting safety and security. Thank you to those of you who have already given your responses to proposed Dress Code items. These items have been suggested with multiple factors in mind, not least pupil feedback on the importance of shared identify being maintained alongside a Dress Code that enables them to take part in practical learning in a safe and comfortable way.
We plan to ensure that pupils have the option of a number of items in school colours and/or with the school crest, making them easily identifiable as members of the school community. However, both pupils and parents asked that we be mindful of the cost of the school day and also accept plain black jumpers, trousers, skirts etc. It is of course important to reduce what barriers we can to accessing education, so this seems like a sensible approach. Those of us with teenagers will also be aware of how often the school clothes can get delayed on their way to the washing machine, so back-ups are always good!
In relation to this, it is worth mentioning at this stage some planning around pupil access to the different ‘zones’ previously mentioned. We are currently working towards each pupil being issued with a swipe card on a WLC lanyard; equivalent to what many of us, including teaching staff, have for our place of work. This will allow pupils to move swiftly and safely between zoned areas, and provide an extra layer of security in terms of identifying any unwanted visitors. Allocating the WLC lanyards will also support easy pupil identification and make it clear who belongs in the school, whether the young person is wearing plain black or school crest item as part of their Dress Code.
Please note: The final Google survey for this half term, on the school crest, was originally due to be shared next week. However, a couple of our partner schools have asked for extra time for young people to complete their versions of the survey. It is important that we give this opportunity so that we have as many as possible contributing their ideas on the school name/Houses names, and vision and values. To this end, please bear with us as we bring that data together throughout February. Further information on the school crest survey will follow.