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Historic community trust to help pay for innovative behavioural 'Hub' at Fairfax Academy

Schools across Sutton Coldfield are set to benefit from a new ‘intervention hub’ which is being built at Fairfax Academy, thanks to a major grant.


Image: Fairfax Principal Sean Castle at the area which is due to be transformed when the new Intervention Hub is built this summer. 

Funding of more than £35,000 from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust (SCCT) will help pay for the new stand-alone building, which will be built at the Fairfax Road school this summer.

The Hub, which will be staffed by a behaviour specialist and a mental health expert, will provide a place for students to spend time, where they will receive intensive mentoring and coaching following incidents of poor behaviour.

And an innovative ‘passport’ system will allow students from schools across Sutton to benefit from the facility, transferring them temporarily to address the root causes of their behaviour.

Sean Castle, Principal of Fairfax Academy, said: “The Hub is a very exciting project. All of the head teachers across Sutton Coldfield work very closely together, and each year agree on a joint project.

“This year, following the impact of the pandemic, it was agreed that behaviour was an area that we should focus on. The Hub will be a huge help with that.”

Mr Castle explained that the hub will provide a specific site for students to go after exhibiting disruptive behaviour, where specialist staff will be on hand to help them.

He said: “At the moment, when students are involved in an incident of poor behaviour, which could be bullying or being disruptive in class, we have a specific tailored programme for them to follow, which aims to refocus them so they can get back into the classroom relatively quickly.

“However, this ‘short, sharp’ approach doesn’t always work with all students. Some of them would benefit from a longer, more intensive time period out of lessons, to have mentoring and coaching around that particular behaviour.

“That’s where the Hub will be invaluable, by providing a facility where they can go at set times over a matter of weeks and have an intensive coaching and mentoring course.”

The Hub will be staffed by a Behaviour Lead and a Mental Health lead and will be built on site in a sectioned-off, landscaped area near Fairfax’s sports hall.

Mr Castle said that some students who are technically suspended from Fairfax due to behavioural issues will also be required to come into the Hub to be taught.

“For some students this would be a much more productive form of suspension, as they will come into the Hub and still getting their lessons, while being mentored and supported,” he said.

Mr Castle said that Sutton’s head teachers are now working on the Passport system, which will allow them all to benefit from the Hub.

He said: “We already work very closely together. Sutton’s schools have an existing ‘respite’ system, where a headteacher can redirect a student’s education to another school, to give them a break and an opportunity to reset.

“The Passport system is like a longer-term respite. We expect that there will be capacity in the new Hub for students from other schools to come here for perhaps six weeks, where they’ll have access to the mental health support and behavioural support on offer.

“They can then go back to their own schools once we have seen progress in their behaviour. So, it’s very much about schools supporting each other.”

Fairfax is providing funding for staffing of the Hub, while money from Birmingham City Council’s Developing Local Provision scheme will be complimented by the £35,068 grant from SCCT.

Mr Castle said: “We’re very grateful to Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust for their support on this important and innovative project. We’re very excited to see work get underway to build it this summer, and then to see the benefits it can bring in terms of student behaviour, not only at Fairfax but at schools across Sutton.”

SCCT Chief Executive Tina Swani said: “SCCT is delighted to be able to support this innovative project. We know that the COVID 19 pandemic had a significant impact on younger people, and schools are now recognising the effects of that, often in terms of behaviour. The Intervention Hub at Fairfax Academy will provide not only a purpose-built facility but also the mentoring and mental health expertise needed to help address this issue.”