You’re sat at a desk. At the side of you, there are two people. You’ve seen them around before, but you don’t know who they are. And, to make matters worse, they don’t speak your language.
In fact, few people in the same room as you speak your language. You can hear them all talking, but you don’t have a clue what it is that they’re saying. So you just sit and stare at the wall in front of you.
Then, once a bell rings, a man walk into the room. He puts his coat on a chair. He writes something on a board – but it’s written in a text you can’t understand – and begins to talk loudly, pointing and gesturing around the room. But, even as he looks you dead in the eye, you have no idea what he’s asking of you.
Now, picture this happening to you five days a week, for the next year.
How would you feel?
Lost? Confused? Frustrated? Scared? Like you needed to escape? Or, maybe all of these. You wouldn’t want to go back to that desk again, would you?
Thankfully, you’ll never have to.
But for thousands of children in the UK, this situation is known simply as going to school.
And, for one North Manchester school it was time for this to change. With a little help from Embrace.
The Situation: Communication Breakdown
This Academy is one of the rapidly growing school groups with multi-ethnic children. In fact, 95% of their students are from foreign countries.
That means that it has become hard to create a clear channel of communication between:
- Students and Teachers
- Students and other Students
- Teachers and Parents
Somewhere along the line – in and out of the classroom – messages are, quite literally, getting lost in translation. Which has created a lot of problems for the school.
They were suffering from:
- Low attendance
- Poor test results
- Bad student experience
Which means that not every child in the school is getting the same experience. They aren’t receiving the education they deserve. And, it creates behavioural issues because they can’t get their message across.
You know how frustrating it is when someone ignores what you’re saying. So, image how that would make you feel on a daily basis?
Now, there is no blame to be cast here.
It’s not the child’s fault. It’s not the parents fault. And it’s not the teacher fault. In fact the faculty have been doing everything in their power to improve the problem.
Which is where we came in.
The Solutions: Cheap And Easy To Understand
In hindsight it looks pretty obvious that communication was the problem. But hindsight always has 20/20 vision doesn’t it. When you’re lost in the middle of the problem, it’s hard to see what’s really going on.
When we came into the school, we spent a few weeks in the classrooms, with the teachers, observing what was happening. And, when all the students were gone, we spent time with the teachers finding out their thoughts too.
We came across some Interesting findings:
- There was little to no effective communication between teachers and parents
- Regardless of the subject, the issues always came back to communication
- When children were given a translator, their performance improved
Our first mission, then, was the increase the communication between teachers and parents. This would allow us to create solutions, with the involvement of the parents, which were cost-effective and agreed with.
We created an evening called an Engagement Evening, which was essentially a Parents Evening, but with interpreters present. That allowed all three people – student, teacher and parent – to talk fluently about the issues.
It might sound simple; but it was truly effective.
For the school itself – to create an even more cost effective solution – we were able to open a pathway to the Government Funded Pupil Premium Grant.
So, what impact did these engagement days have on the school?
The Results: Still Pending, But Looking Promising
I’m still waiting for the of the school year to have the concrete results for this Inclusion and Engagement Service. But so far, the feedback from parents and students alike has been incredible.
This program has also been turned into a Journal study, and will be published with results later on this year. I’ll keep you updated on that as it comes.
Either way, it’s hard to argue with what these students and parents have had to say in our conclusion questionnaires (click to enlarge):
If you’d like to know more about Embrace, and how these solutions could work for you (or your child) please don’t hesitate to get in touch!