May 18, 2021, by abrierley
Tips on DBS checks for my placement working with young adults at Phoenix Aspirational Learning
Isobel Grace Flude, 2nd Year LLB Law Student
Through the placement programme at the School of Law and Social Sciences, I was lucky enough to spend a semester working at Phoenix, an alternative provision school for young people approaching the end of their educational career whom the state system has not been able to adapt around. My team was a mix of senior leaders who have dedicated their careers to working with young people, and volunteers from the local community and the Nottingham universities. My role was as a one-to-one classroom helper, which was a very loaded role! I might spend an hour helping a young person with a mock English exam paper, and then later I might sit with them and watch a film or join them in the woodworking shop and actually make something of my own!
I applied for this placement during the summer after being sent an email of all the available placements, and I submitted a 2-page response to some questions from Phoenix. I also sent them a copy of my CV including my experiences working with young people. I had already completed some volunteering with the Forest School programme and the Aspire project at university and in sixth form. However, you don’t need to have a CV full of experience working with young people to get this placement. When I spoke to John and Lou (two of the senior team) they told me the primary driver behind who they choose is based on attitude: you want the young people to relate to you, and view you as both an adult role model and a friend.
I was invited to interview with the team at Phoenix (during Covid-19, so we held the interview outside in the open) and it was really laid-back. They wanted to know why I wanted this role, how I felt about working with young people in alternate provision. There aren’t many young people at Phoenix, so having the right 1:1 support by their side massively increases their focus and progress. The one thing I would take away from the process of applying from start to finish, is to be authentic, confident, and open to challenging your own views.
The next step was to complete my DBS check! Mark from Student Services sent me over my login details so that I could complete my application online and at home. I had to enter some personal information and select which identifying documents I wanted to show at a DBS appointment (over Microsoft Teams!). The whole process took about 30 minutes. I booked an appointment through the chat function on the Student Services webpage for the following week. Here, I had to tell the verifier my name and date of birth, and then just hold up all of my documents to the camera for her to see. I chose my passport, a bank statement and my birth certificate but there are many others you can choose.
I would recommend to applicants that you ensure you have all of your documents with you wherever you’re living BEFORE you make your DBS appointment- I had a bit of trouble waiting for my birth certificate to arrive in the post ahead of my appointment and had to reschedule. Sending ID documents in the mail really isn’t the safest idea so it’s always better to select ones you already have with you or you can get access to securely (such as collecting a printed bank statement in-branch). About 3 weeks later my DBS certificate arrived in the post and I could begin my placement straight away. The whole process was done from my bedroom and took around a month total, but it can take longer if you’re waiting on your parents to send your ID documents or Student Services are busy and struggling to find a time to arrange your appointment.
Alongside my DBS check, at Phoenix I was able to complete some safeguarding training including the Government’s ‘Prevent’ radicalisation course. These are all transferable qualifications that will undoubtedly help anyone who is looking for a career working with young people and they were completely free for me to complete. As well as this training, after my DBS certificate arrived, I was finally able to work with the young people. Working with them was both rewarding and challenging, and it was an honour to help them with their learning and get to know them a bit better. They all have something to offer and are interesting, unique people. Conor, one of the learners I worked with, told me that having the volunteers around is important because it helps him to understand the work in a more accessible way. He told me the best volunteers are ones that are patient with him and can explain things clearly without being patronising. If this is the kind of support you think you can offer, I cannot recommend the Phoenix placement enough to you.
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