Donna Martin – SLE Pen Portrait

SLE Specialism: Behaviour & Discipline, Nurture, Leadership of CPD & SEN

I have been in a leadership position for five years training staff in the use of positive handling and de-escalation techniques (Team Teach). I have also been supporting schools and pupils, for three years during the transition process from a special school returning to mainstream settings.

Having worked in education for many years I myself have acquired my knowledge by working with and sharing practice with colleagues and outside agencies. This has helped me to develop as an effective practitioner. This collaborative working supports the sharing of ideas and developing new approaches to tackle issues for development.

Spending time in the school understanding their approach to learning and the commitment to the children gives me an understanding as to how I can best support them.

At present I am undertaking outreach work full time and am revelling in the role. The feedback from schools so far has been positive, I feel they have appreciated the support and guidance. By modelling approaches/ strategies in schools they have felt able to continue the work and cascade the strategies through the staff as they see fit.

Working within mainstream settings offering guidance and support in a range of situations I feel helps to develop the staffs’ knowledge. I ask for a member of staff to work with me and observe with the intention of them taking over this role.

I initially meet with staff to understand their issues with a child’s behaviour, within this meeting I have to listen to their needs and sometimes let them discuss all of the difficulties before I start to offer support. I understand that staff have to feel listened to and understood for them to be willing to listen to my advice, it is a delicate process and one in which I feel is becoming a strength.

Working in other settings I am sometimes support members of staff who may need further development in understanding a child’s behaviour. In these cases a diplomatic approach is key and I try to offer advice and model rather than telling someone their approach is wrong; this would achieve nothing (my goal is to support not demoralize).

As a Team Teach trainer I train staff within my setting and we deliver a rolling program to other schools in the borough (continual development for employees in the borough within the field of behaviour management and positive handling). Feedback gathered reflects the success of the course.

If asked to support schools (who have completed the Team Teach training) I already know what strategies they have been given as part of the Team Teach course therefore what adjustments/strategies could be given to support them.

Data collected from my current school shows a dramatic reduction in the amount of holds (positive handling strategies) and the time taken to release the children and start the debriefing process. We feel this is due to staff sharing good practice, supporting each other in difficult situations and the training we provide when delivering Team Teach.

Having worked in mainstream primary settings, primary pupil referral units, key stages 1,2,3 and 4 classes within special school it gives me a better understanding of the needs of a greater age range/ needs of pupils and how best to support staff in these situations.

Using the SEAL resources effectively over the past ten years has developed my understanding of effective practice for developing a child’s social and emotional needs. As a further development of this area, I have completed training in attachment theory, therapeutic language/ play training, Boxall profile/ nurture group training and dinosaur school training.

I have completed a Foundation Degree in Early Years child development which gives me further insight/ knowledge of working with Foundation stage children and those working at a level below their chronological age.