I grew up in the East End of Newcastle and believe passionately in the area, the community and the people.
Having also worked here for the last two decades I know that while it has its problems, it also has huge potential. In order to realise that potential, we need to work with families and the communities in which they live to help tackle any problems they are experiencing.
Families in disadvantaged areas face many barriers which they can struggle to overcome. They are held back by a multitude of problems, often related to poverty and mental health.
It is difficult for families to shield children from issues such as these, and ultimately their education suffers. In the worst-case scenario, they do not attend school at all.
As a result, we have many examples of children joining our schools with a history of exclusions and long-term absences.
If we are to nurture and protect these vulnerable learners, we need to work with the whole family, not just the child in isolation, and do so at an early stage. Too often, problems are not identified until the child has already been admitted into the school.
I applied to Let Teachers SHINE for funding and support because I had a vision of a system that would help us identify and assess the needs of vulnerable learners – those already in our schools, and those being admitted during the school year.
I also wanted to create a new position within the school team to champion these young people, help them as they were inducted into our schools, and to work with their families to get them the right support.