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Support Staff Case Studies
Jenyns First School, Braughing
School No: 231
Increasing the Number of Pupils
Jenyns First School is situated in the east of the county in the village of Braughing and is part of the Rib Valley Consortium. There are currently 55 children on roll which is slightly less than in previous years. Recently, the school population has fallen in number, mainly due to the fact that there is very little social housing in the area and there has been an increase in the number of older residents to the village. As well as children from Braughing, the school also accommodates children from surrounding villages. There are 3 classes which are made up of; Class1 which accommodates all Foundation stage children, Class 2 all Keystage 1, and Class 3 all Keystage 2. Jenyns is also currently in the midst of opening a pre-school for the village.
The staff consists of the Headteacher, 2 full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers, 3 teaching assistants, 1 nursery nurse, 2 MSAs, caretaker/cleaner, secretary, cook and catering assistant. One of the teaching assistants works full-time and the other 2 are 0.8. There is no deputy head or Senior Leadership Team so the Headteacher has organised occasional working lunches with a Head from another, nearby first school, where they can share ideas and provide a source of support to each other.
PPA time, SEN and sports support is covered by the full time TA who works throughout the school. She has attended training sessions with Thorley Hill SpLD base and from the Sports Partnership colleagues. All teaching and learning support staff receive regular in-house training and are offered opportunities to work towards a national qualification; however, they are content with the training they receive in school. Information regarding national qualifications and HLTA status are made available to all support staff and are readily accessible in the staff room.
The school support staff team is line managed by the Headteacher who undertakes all Performance Management Reviews. This is done early in the new school year and is followed by a mid term review and an end of year review. This procedure is seen very much as promoting whole school inclusion, raising standards of performance and attainment and valuing all staff as important members of the school team. Objectives are set for the teaching assistants and reflect the whole school targets in addition to a personal target which will enable them to update existing skills and knowledge.
Performance Management for the MSAs and the caretaker/cleaner is conducted through professional dialogue and ongoing monitoring and is a less formal procedure. The Headteacher feels that this way is less pressured for the staff, and she ensures that her door is always open so that members of staff have access to her to discuss issues as they arise.
The two MSAs have permanent contracts and have received in-house training.
The school secretary also has informal performance management sessions and as a result has received extensive training. This training has covered areas such as Finance Planning and Standards, Admissions, SIMs and Clerk to Governors. She also attends SIMs user group meetings once a term and networks regularly with other secretaries within the consortium.
Last year, due to staff sickness, the nursery nurse took partial charge of Class 1 and, with the support and encouragement of the Head, is now working for an Early Years Foundation degree at Hertfordshire Regional College in Ware. This means that she is out of school for half a day each week and her hours are covered by another member of staff.
The cook and catering assistant are employed by Herts Catering and are very much part of the school team. Unfortunately due to dwindling numbers of children on roll, working hours for the catering staff have been cut.
As part of the Rib Valley Consortium, the school accesses facilities that are available from the Sports Partnership and the ESCo. The school offers seasonal clubs for the children which are run by teachers and TAs during lunchtime and after school. At present there is no need for breakfast or after school clubs. The school also opens its doors to the wider community as it accommodates a photography class which is run by Hertfordshire Regional College on a regular basis.
The school building is just four years old and spare space is not an issue, apart from the size of the staff room which could have been bigger. The Head feels that working conditions in the school are very good and some support staff members have been employed for many years giving a good sense of continuity for the children. She also stated that her support staff have ‘good sense and initiative and that their individual ideas are encouraged’. She also has a very high regard for the skills and knowledge they have gained and believes that if the ‘teachers didn’t turn up we would still give the children a good day’. All in all this is a happy school workforce where continuing professional development is very much part of school life.