Helping at Beatrix Potter

A guide for Volunteers

Helping at SchoolFor the children’s safety, all volunteer helpers are required to have police clearance before they work in the school. You will be asked to complete a Criminal Records Disclosure (CRB) which is then sent to the Local Authority for clearance. We also ensure that volunteers are known to the school or come through a reputable institution e.g. a local Secondary School or University.

Sadly there will be occasions when the headteacher declines to accept the help of a parent/volunteer if he believes it will not be in the best interests of the school community.

When you arrive in the school you must sign in at the school office. You will be given a visitor’s badge, which you should wear at all times. The signing-in sheet will give the date and time of arrival. You must also sign out.

We also know that for staff and parents of other children to be confident about the role of the parent/volunteer helper you need to agree to a protocol about confidentiality and conduct – as do all staff who work in schools. We will ask you to sign this to indicate your agreement and a copy will be kept in school.

There are lots of things we need help with in school. Some activities are in class with the children and some are out of class. Some are outdoors activities and some are making resources.

To help parents/volunteers in school we will share with you our behaviour policy so you can refer good and poor behaviour to the class teacher who will give put rewards and sanctions and most importantly so that you are able use the same sort of language as the teachers.

You MUST let the teaching staff know of any inappropriate behaviour. If you let it go the children will learn that it is ok to behave less well for some people than others and that will make everyone’s job harder and the child less likely to develop a sound moral code and sense of respect!

The teaching staff will also talk with you about the standard of learning they expect from the children so you can expect the same.

At Beatrix Potter we aim to make learning as exciting as we can so often lessons will be practical and that’s when we need most help. There may not be a lot of writing down or recording because that’s not where the learning is – it’s in the doing. Having an adult to challenge the learning is very helpful. Being able to ask the children open questions is a great skill and brings out the thinking in children eg. I wonder what would happen if we put it the other way up? Why do you think it does that? Where has that answer come from? How did you find that out?

Helping to clear up is an essential part of learning too. We want all children to see clearing up as a natural part of the activity and you as a helper should never be the one who clears everything away – that would give very negative messages to the children about your role and about their responsibilities.

Children learn some things very quickly from the actions, words and attitude of the people around them – their role models. They are not always the things we plan for them to learn in the classroom e.g. they pick up good manners from the adults at home and from the adults in school, they copy phrases from their adults – We are sure you’ve heard some of the teachers’ favourite phrases; we hear yours! Therefore it’s important that all our own behaviours in school are always those we want the children to copy.

The most sensitive issue around parent helpers in school is confidentiality. Parents hand their children over to the school for the best part of every week day trusting that they are safe and that their progress and welfare will be treated with complete confidentiality.

It is therefore essential that anyone helping in school respects that confidentiality.

This school is a very trusting school and so we welcome you all in your offers of help. Please do not be offended by the protocol but think of it from the other side of the fence. You all need to be able to trust the school and when you are helping in school you are part of the school. There are other things as well as children’s progress that need to be kept confidential. Some children have medical needs to which we have to attend – perhaps an allergy or a condition that affects their daily learning. Some families have complex circumstances which mean that a child mustn’t join in some activities. Some children may be experiencing a traumatic time at home and their behaviour in school may be affected.

You may find that a friend’s child is in “trouble” one day for something, or you might see a friend’s child being upset by another child – you may not be sure about what to do.

You may be asked by a parent – What’s my child like in school? Or even What’s so and so like in school!?

You may be asked by a parent to “Find out about such and such” or “See what this or that is like?” You may even be asked, “What are the staff really like!?”

All these situations will arise and as a volunteer you must let us know this is being asked of you. It is important you are protected and not placed in a difficult position when such questions are asked of you.

Parents/Volunteers are welcome in our staffroom. Should you hear any information pertaining to the children this should be kept in strictest confidence though pupil issues are not usually discussed in the staffroom. It is also possible that a child will tell you something which is very worrying. Please always refer any concern immediately to the class teacher.

We hope this does not put you off volunteering in Beatrix Potter, the advice is there to help you work confidently and to safeguard the good name of the school and its whole community. We value our volunteers and their role in school is vital in helping all our children.

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