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Day 5 #InYourShoes… with Eastbank Primary School

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Well, that’s me finished my fifth and final day #InYourShoes. And it was great to round off my week of work experience with two Support for Learning Workers, Mrs Tobin and Miss Armstrong, at Eastbank Primary School in Shettleston.

During my 2017 #InYourShoes week, I had the pleasure of spending the day in a Teacher’s shoes at Our Lady of Peace Primary in Barlanark and, of course, on a personal level I’m actually married to a Primary Teacher, so I was really chuffed to see people suggesting, and subsequently voting, for me to learn a bit more about the job of a Support for Learning Worker.

After a quick introduction from the Headteacher, Mrs Minnis, I was given a fantastically warm Eastbank welcome from the House Vice Captains and Captains who told me all about the school’s core values – fairness, honesty, politeness, respect and responsibility. I was also very grateful to McKenzie, David, Rachel and Arron for a lovely tour of the school building. To say these kids have a lot passion and excitement about coming to school would be an understatement!

Following my tour, it was down to work and on to the main reason why I chose to visit Eastbank – to learn more about the jobs Miss Armstrong and Mrs Tobin do.

Support for Learning Workers are chiefly there to support the work of class Teachers and give that extra help to children who, for a whole variety of reasons, perhaps need additional attention.

For example, some children might be a bit behind with their reading or writing and the class Teacher has identified that a bit of one-on-one additional support is what’s required to help make sure children are keeping up with their schooling.

One thing that’s clear to me is that the job of a Support for Learning Worker has changed significantly over the years and there’s certainly an expectation that they’ll do more than they did previously. This was best exemplified when I joined Miss Armstrong who was doing some work with two children who needed help with literacy.

Whilst this support was ongoing, it transpired that three children were waiting in the medical room due to various injuries and illness. I hadn’t quite realised that, on this occasion, the first port of call was the Support for Learning Worker whose job was to apply plasters, sort a bloody nose and make sure one wee boy wasn’t sick.

So, whilst it’s great that Miss Armstrong is able to go and deal with that, it was a pity that the two children whose literacy was being developed had to return to class but that’s an issue of resources and we risk straying into politics.

Earlier on I also joined Mrs Tobin who was doing some extra work with a few kids whose physical coordination required extra attention. This involved leaving a gym lesson for some smaller group support which seemed to be working for them and should help in years to come.

One of the things I saw today was just how dedicated and committed Support for Learning Workers are. The reality is that they don’t earn huge amounts of money but they still give their all to help support and develop the young minds they undoubtedly have an influence on.

Today’s visit to Eastbank brought to a close #InYourShoes 2018 and tomorrow sees me take a few hours out to take our own son to nursery for his first day. However, I thought I’d just reflect a little on what has been five very interesting and varied days #InYourShoes.

The main question I’m asked about #InYourShoes is why do I do it? Put simply, it’s because politicians need to get out of Parliament more and roll their sleeves up to see things clearer from their constituent’s point of view. Being an MP can’t just be shuttling backwards and forwards between Glasgow and the green benches of Westminster.

Every day, tens of thousands of my constituents go to work and do all kinds of different jobs and I genuinely believe that I can represent them – and their respective interests – better when I’ve taken a bit of time to understand the challenges they face each and every day.

In all of my five days #InYourShoes, I’ve not spent my time with the big boss, getting the company message or the corporate spiel. Instead, it’s been time spent with extraordinary foodbank volunteers, dedicated Housing Officers, devoted posties, committed carers & kitchen assistants and passionate Support for Learning Workers.

Next week sees the House of Commons return from summer recess and I’m looking forward to using my position in Parliament to take what I’ve learned #InYourShoes and sharing it with those who govern us.


in your shoes