A positive start in 2020

A positive start in 2020

“I just wanted to say a massive thank you for yesterday. Your team were excellent as always and did a great job helping our Year 7s to overcome their first day fears.”

Last term, as Michelle delivered dozens of workshops to Year 6 via video call, we weren’t sure what would happened next. Would we be seeing these lovely young people again in September? Would it be on a screen again, or might we finally meet them in person?

For the last eight years, Soulscape’s fantastic Mind the Gap team has been on hand at every Wokingham secondary school to welcome the new Year 7 cohort on their first day. Our staff and volunteers have been a friendly, helpful presence during their first week, and are familiar to the kids from their visits to Year 6 during the summer term.

As schools prepared to reopen to students in September, they got in touch with us to emphasise how important they think Mind the Gap is and that they definitely wanted us to come in as part of the school team. It was lovely to hear this and to know we would be able to support this year group that had had such an unsettling, uncertain summer.

“Thank you for teaching us today Miss, I really had a fun time! Thank you again, best day ever!”

The team did a top job at giving the new Year 7s a positive start to secondary school. It could have been a difficult time for these young people who didn’t get the usual induction days at their new schools and have to get their heads around new rules and restrictions.

It was clearly a hard time for some. The team encountered a few students crying on their own and came alongside them. One mum was concerned her child was so nervous that they might run straight back out. Another student trying to adjust to being back around so many people said: “They told me this school was safe but I’m not feeling very safe.”

On the other hand, one of the team observed that there seemed to be fewer young people being left out than in previous years – as though the kids were so glad to be together with others their own age after a long six months.

“Hey, Miss! You were on my video!”

A difference this year was that the students hadn’t met the whole volunteer team beforehand. But several Year 7s came to tell Michelle that they remembered her from the Y6 Mind the Gap workshops that they dialled into last term, as though she were a celebrity from the big screen!

Parents also remembered some of the team from our Y6 parents’ evening sessions delivered via videoconference last term.

It sometimes felt odd for our volunteers to be interacting with masks on – giving the simple reassuring smile was a bit harder – but the young people were used to this. We’re really proud of the difference they made. In fact, one of our volunteers this year defused a tricky situation and the school was so impressed that they asked if they would like to join the staff team!

These young people have been through so many disruptive changes already this year; it was great to be able to make the change of schools a positive one through Mind the Gap 2020.

Despite the circumstances we found ourselves in, the team at Mind the Gap once again excelled in ensuring that the transition for the Year 6 students was as smooth as possible. 

“From bespoke virtual workshops in the summer term for students, staff and parents, to being on site to welcome the new Year 7s on their first couple of days, Soulscape have once again gone above and beyond, so much so, it is hard to imagine a world where they were no longer part of the normal transition core offer that is available to our young people. Once again, a HUGE thank you for your dedication and support.”

– Deputy Head, St Crispin’s School.

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