#EducatingGreaterManchester

We arrived on a snowy day in Salford, at Harrop Fold School. Miranda Rathmell,  the school’s SENCO met us and explained a little of the school’s background: there are around 100 children on the SEN register, with 16 of those having an Educational Health and Care Plan. There are a large number of pupils who are in receipt of free school meals: 69%.

We did a quiz in SEN acronyms, and learnt that what used to be called a statement is now called a Educational Health and Care Plan. We then tried to match some conditions with descriptions of difficulties. Miranda discussed how the school ‘expands the parameters of what’s normal’ to accommodate pupils learning needs, such as pupils with Autism, or with Operational Defiance Disorder.

Miranda then gave us some more input about the policies surrounding SEN, and some of the types of support that schools can give, before thinking about how we as teachers can make text easier to read. We were then given case studies and asked how we might as class teachers differentiate a lesson to support these pupils .

After a buffet lunch, Miranda spoke about how her career had progressed from her time at Edge Hill, work as an RE teacher, to being SENCO at Harrop Fold. She described how to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and challenging Year 7 pupils, the school had created a special group. We were then invited to think a little more deeply about ADHD. This is often co-morbid with other difficulties, can lead to challenging behaviour. It was stressed that all behaviour is communication.

We finished with a tour of the school including the link room, the behaviour room, the SEN office and the Student development team. This was a great day in school and all students are now better equipped to understand SEN on their first school placement in May.

Jewish Community Visit

Once we had all gathered, our guide, David, took us into the schule, the Hebrew word for synagogue. He explained the features of the room, with men’s and women’s seating, the bimah and the ner tamid. He talked a little about what might happen in a Shabbat service.

David explained the concept of Pikuach Nefesh, which means that the sanctity of life takes precedence over any other rule or commandment. There are 613 commandment, and the opportunity to fulfil a commandment is seen as a very positive aspect of the Jewish way of life.David explained that Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith, developed in the 11th Century, are central to a Jewish way of life for ordinary people. Being the chosen people does not imply that Jews are better than others, but they have been chosen by G-d for a particular task. The focus of Judaism moved from the Temple (destroyed in 70CE) to the home.

David showed us a copy of a Torah scroll, and explained some of the differences and similarities with the Christian Old Testament. Looking at the first few verses of Beresheit, we noted that day’s start in the evening, which led on to a discussion of Shabbat, the day of rest. Through looking at the Shema, we investigated the tzitzit, tallit and tefillin, the ritual clothing worm by Jewish men.

After a brief consideration of the importance of Jerusalem, we turned our attention to food, and the rules around kosher.

Then it was time to eat! We went to a local kosher restaurant, which was a ‘meaty’ restaurant so no milk products. Many of us had the traditional chicken soup, although the garlic mushrooms were a popular starter too, with fish and chips, burgers and pastas being the popular choices for mains.

After a filling lunch, we returned to the Schule and considered inter faith issues, majoring on the work of Jules Isaac.