A firefighter has spent the past seven months working with pupils at a Sheffield academy to have a positive impact on their learning and behaviour.
Retired firefighter Ian Foster spends one day a week at Springs Academy helping teachers and providing a positive role model to pupils.
Ian recently retired as a firefighter and continues to work for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue on community and youth engagement. He was tasked with working with the youngsters at the school to help educate them about road safety and the dangers of arson in an informal and relaxed way.
Consisting of around eight pupils from years 9 and 10, their day is structured around practical activities and safety workshops. These include planning, constructing and marketing items which they make in school to sell, such as wooden bird nesting boxes and bird feeding tables, as well as discussion sessions around fire and road safety. They have also been involved in gardening and have planted a variety of different vegetables at their site.
The youngsters also take part in external activities, including visits to fire stations and the National Emergency Services Museum, as well as undertaking different team building exercises.
This School Liaison Officer role that Ian performs was devised by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as it drives down the amount of small, deliberate fires.
The fire service hopes more schools will now see the benefits of having a uniformed presence working with their pupils.
Ian Foster said: “We are fortunate that firefighters have a really positive image within the community and the impact of having that uniformed role model in school for just a few hours a week can be vast.
“Our work educating young people about fires and road safety has helped to reduce incidents massively over the last few years, but we’re pleased the academy can see the benefits of this project which go far beyond our traditional role.”
Michael Goldenburgh at Springs Academy said; “Ian, our School Liaison Officer, is great with our students, he attends on a regular basis and all the students now expect to see him every week. They look forward to his time with them in school and in particular the practical exercises and activities in the afternoon. He is an excellent role model for our students and most of them are benefiting from the skills and knowledge he delivers.”