Whitstable Junior School welcomes volunteers to come in to the school to provide additional support and skills. If you feel you have a particular skill/background you would be happy to share, such as art, gardening, carpentry etc., we would love to hear from you.
If you are interested in volunteering please email firstname.lastname@example.org outlinging the following points and we will be in touch:
- Which regular day you can attend
- What regular time(s) you can offer
- any skill you would like to share
Please see our volunteering booklet below, which will answer more of your questions:
We have produced this booklet as a basic guide for those friends of Whitstable Junior School who are kind enough to volunteer to help. The whole staff values your contribution to the children's learning and appreciates what you do. We hope you find your time with us rewarding, enjoyable and informative. You are helping to raise the standards of education by giving extra individual attention to the children and giving teachers a chance to spend more time working on aspects of the curriculum which will help children to achieve more.
When do I help?
Your help is welcome at just about any time during the school day.
Let the school know when you are available, but be realistic about what you offer. It's usually best to start with a short time each week and then add to it if you find you have more free time.
It doesn't have to be a whole morning or a whole afternoon - an hour a week can be very helpful. Try to make it the same day and time each week. That makes it easier for you to remember and easier for the school to plan. If you can't come to school as arranged, please let us know - giving as much notice as possible.
What will I do?
There are lots of ways you can help in school. What you will actually do depends on what is needed at the time and also on your own interests and skills. Whatever you do, you will get as much information and guidance as possible.
When you work with children at school, you will always be under the supervision of one of the teachers, who will let you know what we want you - and the children - to do. If you have specific skills which could be used in school, please let the teacher know and he/she will try and use your time and skills in the most productive way possible.
Each activity or task that children are engaged in has a clear purpose and it is important that you understand what that is if the children are to benefit from your presence. Do not hesitate to ask if you are not clear about what is expected.
Talking to the children
When working with children, talking to them and in particular questioning them is a very useful way of helping them to think and learn. For example in a cooking activity ask, "Did the mixture change when it was cooked?", "Why or how did that happen?".
Don't worry if you feel you can't explain it properly, the important thing is to encourage the children to think and talk about what they are doing.
If at any time when working with a group you feel that a particular child is not responding to you or is making it difficult for you to work with other children do let the class teacher know.
One of the tasks that you may be involved in is reading with the children. This is an important but time consuming task. The exact approach will depend on the reading level of the child.
- Children should be aware that you read from left to right, turning the pages that way and reading the lines left to right and top to bottom.
- Read the book together to start with.
- Discuss the pictures and the story.
- Read the book again pointing to each word as you read.
- Ask the child to point to each word as s/he reads it.
- Discuss the pictures and the story.
- Read the story together.
- Ask the child to find key words which are repeated several times in the book i.e. 'the',' up',' in', etc.
- The children should be aware of full stops and that you need to pause at a full stop and not to run sentences together.
As the children become more confident, try to get them to work out new words by making a good logical guess. Maybe the picture will help. If the child has good knowledge of initial sounds, looking at the first letter strings or small words within words, sound out the whole word e.g. ing in king.
Another strategy is to get the child to read to the end of the sentence and then go back to work out an unknown word. Even with competent readers you should discuss the stories (and pictures). Also you can try to encourage the children to use expression or put on suitable voices.
The following are examples of the types of questions to use when discussing a story.
- What was the story about?
- Who was/were the main character/s?
- What sort of a person was s/he?
- Was that a sensible thing to do?
- What should he have done?
- Which part did you enjoy best?
- What would have happened if….?
Using the Reading Record Books:
When you have heard a child read please enter the page number that they have read up to. You may put a short positive comment e.g. good, well done, etc but we do ask that parents and helpers do not put any negative comments in the books or suggestions of what the child needs to do.
Changing Reading Books:
Please check with the teacher if a child finishes a book whilst reading with you, that it is alright for them to choose a new one. You may be asked to help the child change their book in the library using the bar code reader – ask if you do not know how to do this.
Supervising the children
Like all other adults in school, you will have high expectations of children's behaviour. The children should be courteous, use polite language and listen when others are speaking. Encourage them by praise and by setting a good example. If any child misbehaves, please make sure that the teacher knows about it. The aim at Whitstable Junior School is that everyone gives each other care and consideration and the importance of our Community Code (Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Responsible) is constantly promoted in assemblies and discussions. If you can help to reinforce good behaviour when you are in school the value of the time you spend will increase tremendously. In short, the following may help:
- Always treat children with respect and in the same sort of way that you would expect them to treat you. They should refer to you as Mr, Ms, Miss or Mrs even if they know you outside school.
- Be friendly towards them and praise the children wherever possible.
- Model behaviour – if the teacher asks the class to stop, show the children what to do.
- Avoid shouting. If you speak normally they will have to be quiet in order to hear what you are saying.
- Give clear and simple instructions.
- Don't be afraid to quietly and calmly correct a child that is misbehaving but never manhandle the children at any time. If in doubt, speak to the staff.
- Do not let the children become 'silly' or over-friendly with you. They must learn to behave socially towards adults who are not close friends.
- Encourage them to be polite to one another.
- If you are concerned about a child for any reason, have a word with the class teacher or the head teacher. Please do not speak directly to the parents of the child.
As part of our safeguarding procedures, Mrs Steward (Safeguarding Lead) will meet with you to discuss safeguarding processes and expectations.
Health and Safety
Parents and volunteers helping in school must be DBS checked and provide the name of two referees. This information must be completed before you can start helping in school. Please ask at the school office for information.
For a variety of Health and Safety issues, it is very important that we know exactly who is on the school premises and where they are. We therefore ask that every adult who comes into the school does so via the main reception door. Helpers must first report to the office staff and sign in to the helpers book. You must also wear a visitors badge so that everybody knows that you have permission to be in the building.
For your own protection/safety we ask that parents do not enter the classroom unless the class teacher is present. Under no circumstances should you be alone with a child in an enclosed space without the specific permission of the Headteacher or the Deputy Headteacher.
Whilst helping in school you will be covered by the Council's insurance policies for accident and third party risks etc.
Please read the Fire Alarm Procedures which are displayed in each classroom.
Occasionally in school you may become aware of information about children which is confidential or private to the child or their family. This is a delicate matter that requires a great deal of tact on your part. But any conversation with parents outside is a breach of the school's confidence. Even a comment such as, 'your Jimmy reads well,' is not acceptable, as others will wonder why you have not said that to them.
It is very important to treat anything you hear or see in school with regard to particular children as being in absolute confidence and entirely a matter within the school. Any information that leads you to believe a child is at risk should be mentioned to the class teacher.
Similarly you may find that parents who are friends will ask about the progress or behaviour of their children in school. Again, it is very important that you firmly suggest that if they are worried in any way about their child then they must discuss the matter themselves with the class teacher or the head.
Although it is pleasant to work with your own children, this can have a detrimental effect on their attitude and concentration and you may be asked not to do so. Equally you may choose not to work with your own child.
In case we teachers forget to say so, please be assured that we really do appreciate your help (we may be too busy or harassed to say so but we do!!) If you have any worries or queries, or any good ideas on how we can improve something, please let us know.
We hope you enjoy helping out at our school.