Blog entry by Astrid Dinneen

Anyone in the world

In a previous blog, Claire Barker and Astrid Dinneen discussed the benefits of setting up the New Arrival Ambassador and/or Young Interpreter Scheme for different groups of pupils. In this blog Louise Ret, Acting Principal Teacher at Gylemuir Primary School in Edinburgh, shares her experience of working with New Arrival Ambassadors to welcome a range of children joining school part-way through the year.



Gylemuir Primary is a non-denominational school located in Edinburgh. We have 570 pupils who come from a diverse range of faiths, cultures and countries. Over the past several years we have seen an increase in the number of pupils joining the school during the academic year, including pupils with English as an Additional Language. This is in large part due to the fact that our local community comprises many large banks and businesses that recruit staff from overseas, usually on a 2 year basis.


Moving to a new school is challenging for any child, even if it’s five minutes away from their current setting – but many of our families are also contending with language barriers, an unfamiliar curriculum and a new job, often without the support systems of family and friends. It became clear that we needed a way to make families feel welcome and supported when they arrive at Gylemuir.  We chose the New Arrival Ambassador Scheme because the resource offers support to a range of pupils – including non-EAL pupils who join our school at irregular times in the school year.


The New Arrival Ambassador scheme has been a fantastic resource for the school because it offers a structured approach to training pupils in peer mentoring. In 2018 the pupils went through an application and interview process to gain a spot as an Ambassador and this year they have taken ownership of recruiting new Ambassadors by creating their own application form and interview questions. We had over fifty applicants from P5-P7, proving that the children see this as an exciting and worthwhile role.


As soon as a new pupil arrives at Gylemuir they are given a tour of the school by our Ambassadors. At break and lunch time the Ambassadors find their new arrival and buddy up with them to play games and explore the playground. They are always on hand to offer support and guidance, and we all check in with each other at weekly meetings to share how our new arrivals are getting on and offer ideas on how to support each other. We are always looking at ways to improve and expand the role of the Ambassadors – recently this involved working with a group of teachers from Holland who were visiting our school!


Whilst the scheme has helped pupils with English as Additional Language, it also provides support to pupils who have moved from within Edinburgh. A new pupil recently arrived from another school in the area and not only has she been helped by the Ambassadors, she has now become an Ambassador! Having someone on hand to welcome her allowed her to find her place in Gylemuir quickly and confidently.


Ultimately, pupil wellbeing is at the centre of the scheme. Having an Ambassador buddy means that pupils are nurtured, respected and included from the moment they arrive at Gylemuir. For the Ambassadors themselves, the role offers an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to be responsible and achieve success in the wider school setting.


The best part of the New Arrival Ambassador Scheme has been seeing how enthusiastic the pupils are about their role. They take so much pride in sharing and embodying our school values of Welcoming, Supportive, Creative and Happy and encourage everyone in the school to do the same.


Louise Ret, Acting Principal Teacher at Gylemuir Primary School
Twitter: @MissRet1 @gylemuirprimary
 
Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website to find out more and sign up to the New Arrival Ambassador Scheme. Read this blog to learn more about the similarities and differences between the New Arrival Ambassador Scheme and the Young Interpreter Scheme.

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[ Modified: Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 9:26 AM ]

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