On 18 June, world-renowned footballer, Tony Adams MBE, and his wife, Poppy Adams, visited Redden Court School to see the brilliant impact SHS is having on pupils, parents and staff there.
Tony and Poppy were welcomed by students, given a tour of the school (including, of course, the PE department), and met with parents, pupils and teachers that had been directly impacted by Redden Court’s SHS Practitioner, Mary Mensah-Shofola.
Mary is an SHS Specialist Practitioner. She focuses transitions, specifically on supporting children and their families with the big (often difficult) jump from Year 6 to Year 7. This is a crucial period where parental engagement can drop significantly, which in turn can put a pupil’s attendance at risk. As families struggle with the change from primary to secondary education, behaviour and attainment can also suffer. Mary splits her time between three primary schools and Redden Court School, working with Year 6 and 7 pupils and their families to ensure they have the best possible start to their secondary school years.
Tony and Poppy met with two parents that Mary supports, who shared how Mary has helped them with food supplies, uniform and managing their child’s transition from Year 6 to Year 7. Before meeting Mary, one mother didn’t know anyone at the school and felt isolated. Now she’s speaking up about issues and getting pastoral support to increase her confidence, tenacity and resources.
Tony and Poppy also met with some of the pupils Mary works with (who were incredibly excited to meet the footballing legend!) Once the all-important questions about Tony’s favourite footballer, the hardest player he’s played against, and his first/second/third favourite team were out of the way, the group opened up about how Mary has helped them to feel confident and able to express their feelings. Tony and Poppy were left feeling very impressed with the Year 7 pupils – and were in awe of Mary’s impact on their lives in less than a year.
Of course, Mary does such a fantastic job with the pupils and parents because Redden Court School are so engaged with the work of SHS. Before leaving for the day, Tony and Poppy sat down with senior leaders at the school to discuss the difference SHS makes.
“When you get a Year 7 child misbehaving, you don’t know what’s gone on at home. Thanks to SHS, as a teacher, you’re much better informed. The issues become much easier to resolve when you’ve got communication from home.”
– Kane Ward, Assistant Head Teacher (MAbles and Pastoral)
“In the past, our transition visits (meeting with a Year 6 pupil that’s due to join the school) relied on a single visit – but there’s always the chance you won’t get an accurate picture of that pupil’s needs. If you’re meeting a child facing multiple hardships, what if the urgency doesn’t come across on that particular day? The fact that Mary can meet with a family regularly means she builds trust with them. They know she’s there to help and they don’t feel awkward. SHS gives us a better chance to prepare and understand who needs more support before an issue arises.”
– Joe Lodge, Head of Year 7
Born and raised in Romford and Dagenham, an area that SHS has worked in for decades, Tony has been a patron of our charity for two years. He understands the important work SHS does with the whole family to improve the life chances of children.
“The fantastic work that School-Home Support has been doing for over 35 years helps children in the borough and beyond who are living in difficult conditions. This is an area which is very close to my heart; I grew up and went to school in Dagenham before being signed to Arsenal Football Club at the young age of 16. I was one of the lucky ones, but many young people in Barking and Dagenham and across the UK are growing up with low aspirations and limited opportunities. Every child deserves a decent chance in life. By acting as a patron for SHS, I hope to help more children get the chances they deserve.”
– Tony Adams MBE
“Mary is a very special lady, we are very lucky to have her at SHS. In fact, we are lucky in general with the practitioners we have, it is a very demanding job mentally and you need to have a real passion for supporting children to do it, they really are remarkable.”
– Poppy Adams
Thanks to Tony and Poppy for taking the time to see SHS’ impact and meet with people on the frontline. Tony’s continued support as an SHS Patron is invaluable to our charity and helps us to reach even more children and families across the country.
If you’re part of a school and would like to learn more about what SHS can do for you, please get in touch with us today.