The General Teaching Council for Scotland

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A day in the life of a Head Teacher of an Additional Support Needs school

Working as a Head Teacher in a Primary school, there are rarely typical days especially when you are working with children who have differing additional support needs.

Margaret Reilly is the Head Teacher of Firpark Primary School in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire which caters for around 80 children with a range of additional support needs. The school moved to a new campus in August 2011 and is now co-located with a mainstream Primary School and a local Community Centre.

Here is a day in her life.

07:30 - My school day starts early to enable me to catch up with my Emails and any outstanding admin tasks that I have not managed to complete from the day before. Once the children arrive the day tends to become very hectic!

08:15 - I have a joint planning meeting with the management team from the mainstream school. These meetings are organised on a monthly basis to address any issues which have arisen from sharing our facilities and to plan and evaluate joint projects between the two schools. Since our relocation, we have undertaken a wide range of very successful inclusion initiatives between the two schools. We now have a shared Pupil Council, Football Team, Garden Gang and ECO and Fairtrade Committee. We have organised joint fund raising events and have jointly participated in a number of drama and musical events, one of which involved appearing live on stage at Glasgow Concert Hall - a wonderful achievement for our children. We have established very strong links with our partners and I think that both teams have benefited greatly from sharing expertise and experience. We alternate hosting the meetings and have set up a great competition on who provides best breakfast treats!!

08:55 - Children arrive on local authority buses and taxis, and a few are transported by their parents. The Management Team are always on hand to supervise and assist children into school. We also encourage our older pupils to buddy the younger ones. Escorts from transport usually take this opportunity to pass on messages from home or relay any issues.

09:15 - I attend a Transition Review Meeting at one of our local Nurseries. We will have 19 new Primary 1 children coming to us after the summer and we need to have a very detailed programme in place to ensure the move from Nursery to Primary is a smooth as possible. The programme includes parental visits, staff visits, attendance reviews and induction days.

10:30 I get back in time for playground duty! We have excellent external play facilities and resources and break time is usually very busy with football, basketball, cycling, swingball, chalking and playing in our Gang Hut which we built from discarded palettes. All classrooms open on to our courtyard which has individual class teaching areas.

11:00 - I pop in for a chat to a Coffee Morning organised by the Parent Council. They have invited our Parent Support Worker and school psychologist to discuss plans for Benefits Workshops and Behaviour Support Sessions. We'll need to organise dates, times, rooms and so on.

11:30 - It's time for a Learning Visit to our Teaching Kitchen with Primary 7 who throughout the week have chosen, planned and shopped for their Thursday Lunch Club meal. This week's speciality is home made pizza with a choice of toppings. Children are responsible for planning, purchasing, preparation and clearing up. Our aim is to try to make our pupils as independent and self-sufficient as possible.

12:00 - Now I have to do lunchtime supervision in the Dinner Hall. Some of our pupils require 1-to-1 feeding and this is monitored carefully. After lunch supervision, I go back out for another round of playground supervision. We also have a range of lunchtime clubs going on including photography, football, music and arts and crafts.

13:00 - I've scheduled a Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP) meeting with parents, speech and language therapists, the school nurse and the social worker. CSP's require to be monitored by the management team termly and reviewed annually with parents. All professionals involved are invited to attend the annual meetings.

14:00 - The Infant Assembly is the part of the week I look forward to most! The session starts with our welcome song followed by our weekly awards ceremony. Our Star Badges and Head Teacher Awards are highly prized possessions and the competition can be very fierce. The assemblies are very interactive and energetic, and the children participate very enthusiastically.

15:00 - We have a staff development session on "Attachment" delivered by our school psychologist. We are also joined by our mainstream colleagues who have expressed an interest in this area.

End of the day - I try to be home by a reasonable time, but don't always manage it. Even on those occasions I do, I always end up taking my "schoolbag" home, full of more admin which I may or may not manage to get done in the evening. If I don't, tomorrow is always another day!!