The Learner Support Centre was started in 2003 in AO2, primarily to help year 11 students who were overwhelmed by coursework, daunted by revision and fearful of exams. It was recognised that although many students were finding year 10 and 11 a challenging and exciting time, others were struggling with the organisational and academic demands of GCSE and rapidly losing confidence in their work and themselves.
The centre, with its focus on the individual, has since expanded providing a friendly and quiet working atmosphere in The Learner Support Centre, a space equipped with laptops and a range of resources to help all students from Year 7 to 13, with all subjects. Its recent amalgamation with the library in the last academic year has meant that most academic support is now carried out across these two areas.
Staff and students are able to access an array of additional learning resources from the library and AO1 staff are on duty on different days during the lunch time in order to support girls with their work, either in the library or in AO1. In addition, the staff are supported by a team of Year 11 volunteers who provide one to one advice to help younger students. The library itself is managed by Ms. Anna Harris. Careers Advice and Guidance, managed by Mrs. Heather Longford, works closely with the AO1 team to provide appropriate guidance at the most appropriate time.
Staff working in AO1 include Mrs. Helen Earnshaw, a specialist in working with young people with specific learning difficulties, and Mrs. Patricia Simister also a specialist in working with children with specific learning difficulties and a trained Learning Mentor.
The centre has expanded to support young people with a whole range of issues within the school including providing social and emotional assistance for individuals, EAL support and advice and guidance for girls who are looking to gain top GCSE grades.
Due to its popularity, In September 2012 the Centre was relocated to a larger zone in order to accommodate and provide for more young people. This has allowed for the expansion of very successful projects including the Peer Mediation scheme with appropriately trained Year 10 students offering a friendly ear to new Year 7 students who may be experiencing transition difficulties; also Year 10 and Year 12 academic support assistants who provide any young person by offering help with their studies.
Complementing the centre's work are two members of the Excellence Cluster; a Learning Mentor who attends one day a week and works with students and Karen Allen, a trained Counsellor, who also attends one day a week.
What is a Learning Mentor?
A Learning Mentor aims to build a one-to-one relationship with a young person and offers, as a professional friend, support, advice and guidance in order to help overcome barriers to learning and ensure all children achieve their greatest potential.
What is counselling?
A counsellor is specially trained to help young people understand themselves better and find ways to facilitate problem solving. They can help with difficulties in school, at home or with friends. A counsellor will not give advice or tell anyone what to do but will support the student in talking to others or simply listening. Everything said to a counsellor is confidential unless the student is at risk of harm.
While many girls will find the help and support provided by specialist subject teachers and tutors enough, others may require greater support during periods of time at Plymouth High. The quiet environment provided in the Learner Support Centre and Library, combined with the opportunity for one to one assistance helps many build greater confidence, understanding, and improved organisation, to ensure that each young person fulfils her/his potential.
The centre has an open door policy; time is available at break and lunchtimes for the girls to complete homework, come and eat and socialise with other people from different year groups and tutor groups; any student experiencing difficulty may seek advice and guidance from this team at any time in their school career.