PhilosophyIn 2011, MIHS faced many challenges owing to specific demographics, social deprivation and parental disengagement. These included: high levels of truancy and absenteeism, fixed term exclusions amongst the highest in Wales; poverty of aspiration and parental disengagement. Measures put in place to address overt behavioural issues proved partly successful but it was identified that what drove the school’s social, emotional and behavioural issues was underlying vulnerability. An 11-16 nurture facility was set up in 2012 . Bespoke interventions were put in place to bridge the gap between personal or academic barriers and achieving excellence. It was intended as an, overarching intermediary between home and school; between problems and solutions. Its purpose is reflected in its name- “ The Bridge “.
Identification of NeedIdentification of individual need is both structured and reactive. Line management systems, self referral and transition processes utilising Boxall profiling dovetail into specific and bespoke interventions. A multi-agency approach with over fifty providers ensures inter-connectedness and appropriate outcomes. Consistency is strictly overseen by an Assistant Headteacher who acts as rigorous “ Gatekeeper “ of all referrals and processes. Pastoral briefings clarify minutiae related to all referrals and this is cascaded (on a need to know basis) to teams who deliver consistently applied processes and messages. Baseline data drives development of personalised programmes and related: Behaviour, Attendance, Learning and Pastoral Support plans. Resilience testing is used to monitor progress while diagnostic and assessment instruments monitor progress of both pupils and the provision itself. Parental engagement at every stage is key to identifying and removing barriers and to ultimate success.
Ethos, Logistics & StaffingThe Bridge is a safe and highly structured environment where missed or poorly implemented nurturing experiences are identified and revisited to allow learning and achievement to flourish. It can be a place of sanctuary at a critical time in a child’s life and / or an opportunity to bring about resolution of situations or circumstances affecting pupils’ readiness or potential to learn and excel. It is staffed by two full time members of staff; one of whom is an experienced youth worker with expertise in conflict resolution, Restorative Justice practices and delivering bespoke programmes. The other is a qualified teacher with extensive experience in core subjects and transition processes. Transitions are seen as significant in the lives of our pupils. These key appointments are absolutely fundamental to the success of “The Bridge “.
The facility is situated in a quieter area of the school, adjacent to the chapel. Its layout reflects both domestic and academic environments, giving a sense of stability and continuity for pupils with chaotic lives. A kitchen area is used to prepare and share meals and create a mutually supportive atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch clubs engage vulnerable, isolated or fearful pupils and “ Student Listeners “, are available on rota to chat and play board games in linear groupings. Sofas and comfortable chairs are available for sharing books, games and group meetings. A separate area is designated as work space and IT access. A sense of group is fostered and pupils are encouraged to learn, share and play together constructively. Eating and talking with adults and others are central to the experience.Small group activities address targets identified in personalised plans e.g I.B. P. Appropriate manners and language are modelled by staff . who demonstrate positive, supportive, nurturing behaviour to one another as role models. They show affection and create a balance between: learning, teaching and routine.” Bridge to success “ plans are highly personalised and monitored by Key Stage Leaders, as are re-integration programmes.