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Spotlight: St Michael’s Way Homework Club

Find out more about Home Club; an educational project set up by Friends, Families and Travellers in St. Michael’s Way, Brighton.

Gold star for after-school club

Home Club is an after-school club where children living on the St. Michael’s Way site discover more about school and learn to develop their skills and confidence.

Learn and play

Every week children come to pick up essential writing ability, basic maths and life skills. Home Club is a comfortable, fun space where children find out more about themselves as people, learn how their actions affects others and focus on their wishes for the future.

Amazing response
The after-school club was set up after the Traveller Education Support Unit let us know that children need to develop ’ready for school skills’ such as speaking and listening, turn-taking and learning to follow rules and instructions. The project has been developed using information from the children and families themselves, the Traveller Liaison team, health visitors, our own organisation (FFT). The response to Home Club has been so good that we don’t have enough spaces for everyone who wants to come along.

Great incentive to stay in school

Home Club is only available for children going to school. But it’s working as a great incentive to encourage children out of school to attend. The Traveller Education Teacher helps the children get to know the school staff, which makes the young people feel more confident and supported. Home Club has resulted in more children going to school – particularly among those on the transit site who weren’t receiving any education prior to Home Club.

Secondary school encouragement

We’re also working hard to make sure Year 7 children who aren’t at school will go on to secondary school. *A report relating to Gypsy and Traveller Children in Sussex states that many young Travellers leave school at primary age but wish to go to Sixth Form College to obtain qualifications for employment. This can be extremely challenging for young Travellers who don’t have the necessary reading and writing skills required for qualifications for many trades. This is challenging, though we’re confident of getting good results in the future.

Fire safety

We are working with the fire brigade education department to help prevent accidents and make young people more aware of their actions. For example, some Traveller children have dangerous tendencies with fireworks where they might hold them or use milk bottles to set them off.

We have also requested that the Fire Brigade prepare some Traveller-focused information for children on ways to evacuate a trailer or chalet rather than a house. When we receive this information we will share it nationally to benefit Traveller children across the country.

Animal wellbeing

We have an ongoing learning programme that encourages Traveller children to be aware of animal wellbeing, especially regarding dogs and horses. Supported by the Dogs Trust and the PDSA. The Dog’s Trust visited us in November and said this of their experience:
“We were incredibly impressed with the children’s empathy and understanding of what it means to be a responsible dog owner and we learned about the impact dog poo can have on hygiene. Teaching compassion, care and respect towards animals can also enrich children’s lives in many other ways.”

Health and happiness

As well as health visitors and Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, we hope to offer some interesting activities to help children learn about healthy eating and drinking, along with dental hygiene.

Each term we plan activities relevant for that time of year, for example sea safety with the RNLI in summer. We’ll also be covering how to stay safe online, sun safety and possibly ‘bike-ability’ onsite. We will continue to respond and support any concerns to improve the children’s health and wellbeing and will focus on any opportunities to help them thrive.

Speaking about Home Club, Maxine Lambert, Home Club Co-ordinator said:

“The children have really  enjoyed  weekly home club. It has acted as a very joined up project between FFT,  the local authority  Traveller Education team, and a host of other services bringing health and welfare messages directly  to  the  children. We hope to continue to prepare our children for school, to support the children in their personal development, and help vital services reach this most vulnerable group. We look forward to an exciting summer term!”

Thank you!

Thanks to contributions from Traveller Education Support Unit, the Traveller liaison team and Children’s services Mouslecoomb Hub we now have two large tables for play and learning, a book shelf, dolls house, play trailer and books that will appeal to Gypsy children. Thank you to everyone who has supported setting up and running this new venture including: Avril, Sarah, Juliet, Liz, Marie, Geoff, Debbie, Chris and Jack.

Further information

Please contact Maxine Lambert, Home Club Coordinator

The office, 13 St. Michael’s Way, Gabriel’s Lane

Brighton BN1 8AZ.

* Child Poverty Relating to Gypsy and Traveller Children and Young People in Sussex, Claire Bingham December 2010

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