Last week a special event was held at Copland Community High School to mark the closure of the Mentoring Department at the school. The Department, which has changed pupils' lives, is a victim of the spending cuts at the school and perhaps also of the different educational philosophy and priorities of the new management.
The event attracted an audience of more than 100 in contrast with the consultation meeting on a takeover of the school by Ark academy attended hby only 15 or so. Perhaps that showed what parents and the school community really value about Copland.
The event was opened by narrators who said:
The core of the work within the Department is dealing with emotions and relating to one another. The first time you step in, you pretty much learn to acknowledge whoever is in there by greeting and acknowledging the others existence. Just from this simple ethos....the popularity of the Department grew. Student would would come down from all different backgrounds, regardless of their 'demographic label'. Whether you're African, Indian, Somalian, Polish, Romanian, English, Caribbean......a talker, are silent, a shaker, a mover or dancer.....The respect and love which spills through the Department is universal, indiscriminative and is available to ALL. But then.....there is your height I guess....many tall people will have learned the hard way of being greeted by the low ceiling. Most important of all....during a very unsettling time of changes within the main school structure....one core aspect if the school has been consistent and predictable....the Love and Commitment of backbones of the department.....Our Hearts have always been open and available to serve you.....students, ex-students, university placement students, parents and carers, Copland staff and Brent external agencies.What you all would not realise is that the Team had support for each other by meeting regularly, ritually having clinical supervision and sharing the same ethos used with service-users towards each other...which is why it all worked.We are not only a Team, but a family....who are....finally....flying the nest.To mark this 'flight' you will be mesmerised by a colourful collection of memoirs from you....the true examples of achievement and positive impact....as we prepare to leave our symbolic imprint....please ensure your mobiles are on silent, you are sitting comfortably and are ready for the curtain call performance on behalf of Copland's very Beloved Mentoring Department.
What will happen to these vulnerable young people? Why do specialised and seasoned home-grown staff have to leave Brent and be welcomed into neighbouring boroughs? Discussion is fruitful and healthy ..., voices need to be heard because on the night of the significant news that Nelson Mandela had passed, there was a resonating message from the Lead Learning Mentor and Dramatherapist to 'fight the academy fight in order to defend what is right!'.