We find that when learners are referred to our Education service, it can be a worrying time for both the learner and the family.

A successful transitional period is paramount to the placement being successful and also to there being a smooth start in September, following the long summer break.

I would like to talk about a particular learner, Vasilie, who had been referred to the service from a Special School environment. It was evident from my observations that the school environment was not quite right and that this particular learner’s interactions with his Form Tutor were detrimental to his progress, due to his attachment needs.

Taking into consideration the complex nature of the young people in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire it is paramount that relationships are built well before our work begins in September and it is helpful to have skilled staff who are highly emotionally intelligent.

This example is of good practice during transition from a Community Learning Facilitator called Krzysztof Sawicki and Vasilie, who has Roma as a first language and sparse English skills. In addition to this he has severe learning difficulties.

Krzysztof planned 2 visits to the family home to begin building a relationship with Vasilie. Below is a transcript description of how he used a variety of Great Interactions to lay the first brick in the foundations of this learning partnership:

“Firstly I had a quick chat with them (the family) in the living room, briefly, I described the role of CLF and I told them that I am not a “typical” teacher and I will not give any notes for him, that a huge part of our work is in the community, that we will try to provide activities which he likes to do however we need to do some English, ICT, and maths as this is legal requirement. This is what I explained later on to Vasilie as well and it seems that he was happy with that”.

This approach was hugely important due to the family’s prior view of authority and Vasilie’s view of Education.

“After few minutes Vasilie came to us, strong handshakes with me and he sat down on the sofa next to me. I prepared myself for this meeting by buying Superman’s t-shirt as I knew already that he likes superheroes. It was bull’s eye”. He looked at me, my t-shirt and bring me his dad glasses… I could not click why he bring them for me so he asked me to go with him to another room with his PC. He can switch on computer and use mouse to choose browser and find favourite clips on YouTube. He showed to me clips with superman from 80’s with Christopher Reeve. Glasses because when superman is under cover he is wearing glasses and shirt… lol… so he was suggesting me to wear glasses and shirt and under shirt my superman t-shirt…. He asked me can we watch together all Avengers movies in the future. He did it by firstly pointing at his t-shirt with Avengers logo and then at television. When I asked is he willing to watch them with me he confirmed that with nodding. I have note few words which he is using. Ve-che = toilet, wha = yes, Hamas = food, bok = hungry, Vasilie has? =Vasilie are you hungry? pie = water, no = no, buna = hello”.

Krzy was able to identify from the pre-entry assessment information an interest that would motivate and engage Vasilie in order that the first visit was a success, and that Vasilie would take away from this memories of a good experience. He was also able to gain essential information about his first language which will form part of his Communication Profile.

Following on from this Krzy visited a 2nd time and this is what he describes:

“I took with me my resources - guitar packed in a hard case (it’s my private one but I decided to take the risk),  battleship game and some crafts supplies in the suitcase. I gained few important information. I found that he likes to be called Timmy. Firstly I asked Timmy to bring my guitar from the corridor. I did it by clearly saying “Timmy can you bring my guitar” and by showing guitar in Makaton-ish (just simply I was playing guitar without guitar). He did it straight away and then I asked him to open the case (once again mix of speech and Makaton-ish) and take out the guitar. He started to “play” on it straight away (hitting the strings randomly but I did not expect anything else). At some point, I put my hand on the guitar neck, started positioning my fingers into different chords and Timmy’s random hitting started to sound more like music and on his face, there was a huge smile”.

“When I was leaving, Timmy opened the front door for me and he decided to escort me to my car (his sister went with us). I parked my car around 300 meters from his house and he helped me with carrying my guitar”.

It is important to recognise there are many forms of communication and that Makaton alongside gesture and using objects of reference assist in Great Interactions taking place. In addition to this ‘going above and beyond’ and forward thinking can have a huge impact on the success of the interactions taking place.

Thank you to Krzy for his hard work and commitment to the role of Community Learning Facilitator and I am looking forward to reading about their learning journey in the termly Newsletters.

Pamela Rozentals

Programme Manager

MacIntyre No Limits

Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes