Madaline Wilson

3rd year English Student
volunteered at a school for boys who had been excluded from mainstream education

MadalineParticipating in the scheme was one of the best things I did during my time at university. I volunteered in a small school for boys with emotional, behavioural or social disorders (EBSD) who had been excluded from mainstream education. At first I found this prospect daunting as I did not know what to expect and I had no experience in this type of educational environment. On my first day I remember not really knowing my place and feeling very worried about doing the wrong thing. By the end of the first day the staff had made me feel more at ease and I walked away knowing that if I had helped a student understand something, or helped them concentrate, even for 5 minutes, I had achieved something.

I found my visits to be a lot of fun, occasionally challenging, and always rewarding. The experience helped me to build my confidence invaluably. I have always felt that I had good communication skills but this was really put to the test when communicating with children, especially those with EBSD, who require you to have more patience and more understanding.

I helped in a variety of classes including Food Technology, English, Maths, Science and Religious Studies. My role in the class was mostly to talk to the students about their tasks and help them if they needed it. Occasionally I would work one to one with a child who was struggling with a task or who needed a little extra support in a lesson.

Although most of the boys had been excluded from mainstream education, were often in trouble, and sometimes exhibited very challenging behaviour, they were always very respectful to me in the classroom and were all very funny, quick, likeable kids, who essentially just needed a little more patience and supervision.

If I had any advice to give to students considering the scheme I would say this is one of the most fun and valuable ways to complete the volunteering part of your RED award, really great experience if you're interested in a career in working with children, and don't rule out volunteering in a school with students whose needs are different to those in mainstream education (whatever the students' needs may be). If the idea of volunteering in school like this is daunting to you I would say that is even more reason to go for it! I am so happy that I went with Phoenix College as I now have so much more confidence in working with children.

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