The Learner Support Centre was started in 2003, 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 a large bright space next to the staffroom, equipped with laptops and a range of resources to help all students from Year 7 to 13, with all subjects.
The AO1 Learner Support team is overseen by Mr. Willis, Interim Headteacher. Staff working in AO1 include: Mrs. Patricia Simister, a Learning Mentor and Mrs. Helen Earnshaw, a Learning Support Assistant. 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. Mrs Simister is also involved in training a small group of Year 10 students to be Peer Mediators who are attached to the Year 7 cohort to help with the transition from Year 6 to Year 7.
Complementing the centre’s work is a counsellor from the Excellence Cluster and a counsellor from Young Devon.
The centre also works with a Primary Mental Health Worker who has direct links to CAMHS.
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, 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 students 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.