Real life stories

Whether you're thinking about your job or training options, there's almost certainly somebody, somewhere, with a story to tell that might help inspire you to make your next move.

Lesley Dorken - Learning mentor

Name: Lesley Dorken

Job Role: Learning mentor

School: Falconer School

Bio: Student support centre manager for 13 months

I am the student support centre manager at my school and have been for 13 months.

I have always worked in the field of nurture, mental health, emotional wellbeing and behaviour but I wanted experience in a secondary school but more importantly, to gain more experience within social, emotional and mental health (SEMH).

In a typical day, I support students with their emotions and help them with strategies to deal with any issues they may come across. Sometimes, this may involve restraining while de-escalation can take place so they are in a calmer state to discuss what went wrong and work together to put a plan in place to stop emotions rising to that height in the future.

I need to remain calm and have the ability to teach students to deal with the barriers that affect their learning. This may be resilience, anger management, problem solving, self-esteem, protective behaviours and even understanding how their emotional state can have an affect on the choices they make.

I am a qualified higher level teaching assistant and have attended courses on Nurture, wellbeing, mental health awareness and protective behaviours. All this combined, helps me to help the students.

I love my job, it’s so rewarding. More importantly, I gain the trust of my students so they are able to talk to me about problems affecting their daily life. Most of our students have a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or pathological demand avoidance (PDA). This alone is a barrier to their learning so to have someone who will fight their corner while they’re at school, who understands their battles, means a lot to them. To see them progress and start to believe in themselves is why I do what I do!

Lesley Dorken