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From RSM to PRU.

7 weeks ago I entered the world of alternative provision of education, working with kids in a pupil referral unit [PRU] in Bolton. I think from outside looking in people can have a biased opinion that all the children are deprived with uncaring parents and whilst this is the case for some it is not the case for all.

It was a HUGE step going from being the Regimental Sergeant Major [RSM] in a camp where everyone did as they were told to working with 11/12 year old's that didn't give a s**t if I used to be the big cheese or not but I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I gained their trust. I have been very fortunate in this process to have Mark and Liam (Whysup) by my side. It was 100% the route I wanted to go down but it would have been a lot more difficult to find my way on my own.

For the first week we did ice breakers and it was like pulling teeth getting the kids to talk, never mind talking about themselves and so I changed tactics and found that getting them to write about themselves worked better initially. I think getting the kids to open up and talk about experiences outside of school is hugely important in order to allow me to deliver my lessons. I am not a teacher, social worker or police officer. I go in as myself and operate in the grey area, allowing the kids to open up. 7 weeks in and I firmly believe that they all trust me and engage in conversations telling me, and each other, things that they probably have never spoke about with anyone.

Getting all to agree to ground rules and the introduction of Pheniks Division core values in the beginning, allows me to hold them accountable as we go. I have formed an alliance with the kids and have quickly moved from the bottom of the tree to the alpha. I have gained their trust and respect to the point that me being disappointed or upset seems to punish them more than anything else. A good place to be.

Forming this year group into a team - which includes me and my colleagues - has now allowed us to take every single one of them out of their comfort zone. They are now self managing, which allows them to police themselves. They still have their moments but issues are resolved at peer level a lot quicker.

The best testimonial that I could have asked for was the lads from Whysup and the schools we work in asking me back for a second term.

Watch this space.

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