When I first got the letter delivered to my house, I was ecstatic knowing I had finally managed to secure a place at Lambeth Academy. When I first saw the school I was nervous as the school was much bigger than I expected. I didn't really know anyone except for a few people so when I met people I was nervous if they were going to like me or not. But after I got to know them I felt like I fitted in. After meeting my tutor group and teachers I could tell that this would be a good year.
Now after spending about roughly a year here I feel like I am part of a massive family knowing that I am in a safe and caring environment every day when I come to Lambeth Academy.
My day begins in the office, writing up my clinical notes from the previous day's groups and catching up with emails. It’s the time in the term when we are accepting new referrals for our dramatherapy groups that begin in April, so there are a lot of queries from schools about this.
I walk to a nearby school for an update meeting about two children who are attending dramatherapy at the moment, and to see some children in class who the school thinks could benefit from dramatherapy.
I grab a sandwich on my way back to the office and sit down with my colleague Nicola who facilitates most of the dramatherapy groups with me, to do our session planning for the week ahead. We will reflect together on the previous session, thinking about what themes have come up and what activities we think the children in the group will engage with. Each week there are eight groups that take place, so we are usually working with forty children every week.
In the afternoon Nicola and I head off to different primary schools for the afterschool dramatherapy groups. On Tuesdays we are both working with trainee dramatherapists from Roehampton University, so we meet with them before the session for supervision, then set up our rooms for the groups – there is a lot of furniture moving involved in being a dramatherapist which keeps us fit!
We collect the children at 3:30pm and the group begins. Parents and carers are really committed to bringing their children to the group each week, some needing to travel from nearby schools in order to attend.
We begin the dramatherapy group in the same way each week, asking each child how they would like the group to say hello to them and giving them space to tell us about their week and how they are feeling. Then we play some games to warm up and begin to work imaginatively. This week we tell the group the story of the 'Golden Key', a fairytale about a boy who finds a treasure chest hidden in the snow. The story is open-ended, and we ask the group to imagine what they would like to find inside a treasure chest, acting out their ideas and drawing them. It's lovely to witness the confidence of the children developing as they each bring their own ideas to the activity. We end the session with a game, and a way of saying goodbye that the group have devised.
In our second group we are working with Year 6 children, and there is space within the session for them to share their worries and anxieties about moving to secondary school. We role-play some scenarios that they feel worried about and there is a lot of discussion about how they are feeling about the transition. Working with children from other schools in a small group seems to really support them to be honest about their feelings and I really admire their courage in talking about their difficulties.
After some post-group reflection and tidying up the therapy room, it’s 6:30pm and time to head home. I'm usually really hungry as the groups use up a lot of energy, so dinner and some time to relax are top of my to-do list in the evenings!
We will soon be starting a series of new events with our pupils across the collaborative which will increase focus and engagement as well as raise aspirations and inspire our young people.