The global pandemic has seeped through every facet of our lives, recalibrating how we work. It has made everyone think outside the box and this hasn’t been truer than for schools and children’s homes at Witherslack Group, the leading provider of education and care for children and young people with special educational needs.

Upon the Government’s lockdown in March, schools and children’s homes from across the Group were called upon to remain open and asked to continue to provide vital support to young people and their families.

Stepping up and going above and beyond is what we do, it’s embedded in our culture. Teams came together to maintain standards of care and provide stable places to live and learn. They overcame challenges together by navigating the new normal under the direction of leaders that provided copious amounts of support, and this is echoed by Team Leader,  Natalie Jewitt of The Grange Children’s Home in the north east, who has been at the home for five years.

Natalie Jewitt, Team Leader at The Grange Children’s Home.

The team at The Grange have been phenomenal throughout the pandemic. We were given full support by Witherslack Group to ensure that the children didn’t miss out on anything, and that staff had the flexibility to adjust to the changing times. This meant investing in a safe environment, regularly checking in with us about our well-being, and providing flexible working shifts so that we can work better as a team.

Natalie herself has been recognised for her efforts. From arranging bouncy castles to organising a sports day and competitions – there have been plenty of opportunities for young people to learn, grow and achieve. In addition to this, as the home’s wellbeing officer, she has put together care packages for staff full of treats and is planning a luncheon for the team.

We continue to keep moving forward because we love what we do. We’ve been supported well by the Group too and the recent bonus for school and children’s home staff has been much appreciated.

The thread of teamwork continues at Avon Park School in Rugby where DT Teacher, Sharon Palmer-Booth has been applauded for her infectious enthusiasm and knack for bringing everyone together. Combining her interest in the environment and making conscious choices to help the planet, she organised a project involving the whole school.

We decided to build a sustainable greenhouse using plastic bottles as the frame. It was an opportunity for pupils to learn about recycling and to be part of a project where they could take pride and have a sense of belonging and purpose.

Sharon also involved the school community in building a spitfire model and worked with humanities to deliver sessions on VE Day. Pupils learning from home have also been involved in a range of projects including, building a birdhouse with materials sent to them with step-by-step guides.

It is with the support of the senior leaders at Avon Park, that I have been able to get everyone involved, and provide an immersive learning experience.

Staff sharing their passion and introducing them to young people has real benefits and value, as Russell Parrington, Care Practitioner of Woodlands Children’s Home for two years in the north-west explains.

I have a real interest in sports and the great outdoors. We have been taking young people out to explore new areas, including the Lake District. Being active has become part of our routine so we installed a new gym for times we can’t go out.

Taking part in activities organised by Russell has provided the young people with opportunities to talk and open up about their feelings.

The walks, runs and whole host of activities have helped with the mental health and wellbeing of our young people, and also improved their relationships as they complement and encourage one another. It is thanks to the management and staff team that I can do this as they are encouraging and give me free rein – I am so grateful for their support.

Front-line staff at Witherslack Group continue to make a real difference to the lives of young people in varied roles such as a Residential Support Worker and Teaching Assistant, each with a distinct career path. We’re constantly on the lookout for exceptional people like Russell, Sharon and Natalie to join our team. If this sounds like you, join the leading provider of specialist education and care in the UK, explore our current vacancies at www.witherslackgroupjobs.co.uk