“Our PGCE Secondary and PCET trainees studying at Birmingham City University have significantly benefited from the partnership recently set up with St Paul’s School. Trainees have been involved in numerous subjects and activities, some of which were normally out of their comfort zone. This has afforded them the opportunity to extend their skills and their understanding of working with learners who may have a SEND or who may have a behavioural problem.

The photos we received, particularly of the Design and Technology trainees who have spent time in the kitchens helping young learners to cook, reminded us why we go into teaching. The learners were so proud of their achievements aided by BCU trainees. Trainees have been quick to feedback on the support they have received from the school and how they have enjoyed working with the learners. I know some learners plan to return. We are really keen to continue this partnership and hope the school are able to do so.”
Karen McGrath - Associate Professor PF HEA
Head of Department Secondary and PCET - Birmingham City University
"Hi Helena, Thank you for your support throughout the process, the placement have made me aware of many practices that would help me in my NQT year, the entire team was very supportive and hands on whenever needed.

I would not have thought that I would say this on Friday, but honestly, I am sad to leave specially after building an excellent relationship with the pupils in the school. You do an amazing job at the school and I would like to take the opportunity to volunteer whenever I could. Please keep up this excellent effort for an excellent cause the children here are so lovely although they have trouble to express their feeling and emotions, you could tell that all try to get attention and all in their own way.

I hope I have made a difference with some of the kids and hope I have left a good impression with the all the staff too. You all are superstars."
Hamdi Ghailan
Birmingham City University Student
Good afternoon Kerenza I am sorry this has taken me so long to do but I am just emailing to thank you for all the support you gave in transitioning JK from George Dixon Primary to St Pauls. From the initial phone calls, to transition days to providing a start date all ran so smoothly for a pupil who is very vulnerable with attachment difficulties.

Not only me, but other members of our team at George Dixon Primary who had never been to St Pauls before, were met and made to feel welcome, making the experience for both us and JK easy. Staff here have commented on how polite and welcoming your staff were and I hope you can pass this on to them.

JK’s Mum was also very impressed when I brought her and having two other siblings here at George Dixon Primary meant it was always going to be tricky for Mum however she has been so very positive.

It was a very difficult decision to let JK go to another school, particularly a special alternative provision so thank you for all your time you spent making us all welcome and sharing very highly confidential information, specifically around safeguarding.

I have copied our school Principal Officer into this email, I hope you don't mind but I think it is important for SENAR to know how well this worked. Keep up the good work at St Pauls.
Kate Butcher
Acting SENCO - George Dixon Primary School
“St Paul's school offers an ' above and beyond' service to its Pupils. Senior leaders are able to tailor programmes to suit their learners needs. Mentors and support staff within the school shadow their learners to ensure they are engaged and getting the best from their programmes of learning.

Learners are offered the opportunity to take part in a variety of vocational subjects that enhance confidence and allow learners to gain valuable skills for life. Learners have on occasion excelled in these environments, this, no doubt, is due to the fantastic nurturing and support provided by St Paul’s staff.“
External Provider
“After being out of education for some time, we were beginning to think *** wouldn’t find a school place again. We were concerned that she wouldn’t be able to cope with a school setting as she had rarely experienced a full day in the classroom, often having to sit out of lessons and also being at home having been excluded for over a year.

However St. Paul's took on the challenge and set about integrating *** to school in a very measured way. Although a year 7 student, she began her time there in the primary unit, building up her confidence and managing relationships with other children in a relaxed but structured setting. Being the eldest there really helped her self esteem which had suffered badly due to previous school experiences.

*** is now at the secondary school and making progress, she talks a lot about school, the staff team who she loves and how she is having to work really hard to catch up on her years out. Although still not a 'model student', *** is happy and part of the school community, she has benefited a great deal from the nurturing approach to education that St. Paul's provides.“
Parent
“As a lecturer at the University of Vic (a small city 40 miles north of Barcelona), I have been accompanying groups of Social Education students on visits to community-based projects in Balsall Heath for the last 9 or 10 years. Our interest is in showing students the kind of bottom-up community self-organisation that has been such a feature of Balsall Heath’s recent past. Obviously, St Paul’s Community Development Trust is one of the organisations we visit because of the key role it has played over the last 40 years.

For the past two years, we have also been fortunate enough to be able to place students at St Paul’s School, where they have completed 3-month in-service training placements as part of their degree course. In both cases, the students have returned to Vic enormously enthused by the experience, and convinced that the work being done in St Paul’s School, though incredibly challenging, has given them a model for how they would like to work in the future.

One of the most frequent criticisms among our students, during their degree course, is that the core values that we at the university try to instil in them, of developing working relationships with the ‘clients’/’users’ based on mutual respect and trust, are not always in evidence in the contacts they have with placement centres. This is where St Paul’s School has stood out: the concepts of respect, trust, mutual support, and belief in the capacities and potential of the young people the school works with are not just empty slogans or articles of blind faith, they are at the very heart of all the work the school does, and of the relationships built between staff and pupils.

This attitude has also marked the relationships our students have been able to develop during their time at St Paul’s: the conviction among the staff that they still need to learn, that they are not ‘the experts’ who have ‘mastered’ the work they do but are instead conscious of the need to improve, to change, to move forward, has meant that our students have felt valued for the ideas, experiences and energy they have contributed during their time in the school. The fact that the school has been so open to them, and has supported them at every moment of their placement, means that relationships have developed of an intensity that is exceptional.

Our students have returned to Vic changed by their experiences, and with a renewed conviction that working in an open, honest and respectful way is not just possible, but absolutely necessary. For that reason, we are currently talking here at the university about ways of strengthening the relationship we have with St Paul’s, including planning a visit by one or more members of the St Paul’s staff to Vic to talk to our students and also, to people working in equivalent settings here in Catalunya. I firmly believe we have much to learn from their experience, and their way of working.”
Jon Telford
Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Translation and Humanities, University of Vic (UVic-UCC)