On-site social workers at Hazelwood College

Dylan Sloan and Sinead Tolan.
Dylan Sloan and Sinead Tolan.

Hazelwood Integrated College has introduced an innovative and unique pilot programme offering on-site social work support in the school environment.

Sinéad Tolan and Dylan Sloan, both qualified social workers, are on hand for any crisis situation, to offer support and advice with particular focus on providing higher achievement and attainment figures for care experienced young people.

One of the initiatives is a lunch-time club, running twice weekly, for care experienced pupils to have a safe space to discuss any issues.

It is frequently a place of fun but is also a safe space for pupils who gain support from one another, and from the staff on hand.

Keen to break the stigma around being care experienced, Dylan and Sinéad ensure the pupils have a sense of pride in attending CEPIE (Care Experienced Pupils in Education) Club and as such, the club is student-led, with students providing many of the ideas on how best to spend that time.

On Tuesday, October 22 Hazelwood hosted a CEPIE Care Day as a way to celebrate these pupils, and to brainstorm with other professionals/parents/carers and the pupils themselves on how everyone can best work together to support these most vulnerable of students.

Professional organisations such as VOYPIC, Fostering Network, EXTERN were all in attendance, alongside social workers and the students who are already armed with plenty of ideas and thoughts on how everyone can be working together to provide cohesive and comprehensive support.

Principal, Maire Thompson, said: “We at Hazelwood are very proud to offer our students this unique layer of wraparound support, we pride ourselves on our innovative, imaginative and best practice approaches to pastoral care and student wellbeing and consider these as vital underlying factors in ensuring educational excellence for all our students.”