Inspiration in Education nominee – Sam Goodin
Special school headteacher Sam Goodin literally takes her work home with her. For the past 13 years she has been the weekend respite carer for a young woman who used to be one of her pupils.
Sam, from Hanley, stepped in to help when the parents of a child in her class were looking for respite support. The arrangement worked so well it became long term.
“I became a carer for a little girl in my very first class at my old school,” said Sam, aged 38. “She has a lot of complex needs and you don’t just stumble across someone who can help in that sort of situation. I decided to help her parents.”
Sam is now the headteacher of Kaleidoscope, a special school in Porthill that opened as an alternative provision in January 2022 and became an independent school in September 2022.
She and her team of 25 staff care for up to 30 pupils between the ages of four and 11 years. Class sizes are kept to a maximum of five pupils, with two or three members of staff per class.
Sam has been nominated as an Inspiration in Education in the Your Heroes Awards by Alicia Keenan, the mum of another of her pupils.
Alicia said: “Sam goes above and beyond in her role. She ensures that the safety of the children is at the forefront of what the school do whilst also providing a holistic approach to teaching.
“Every child that attends the school can’t wait to go into school and happily runs through the gates in a morning. Sam always has a smile on her face and is happy to listen and chat to parents about everyday challenges that parents of special needs children face.
“Sam will do everything in her power to provide these children with everything they need and will happily help parents who are struggling. Sam is amazing at what she does. We couldn’t wish for a better headteacher and advocate for our children.”
Sam said: “I am slightly embarrassed and overwhelmed at being nominated. This is just my job. But I’m also extremely grateful that the parents and carers recognise the hard work everyone at Kaleidoscope puts in on a day-to-day basis.
“The children often come to us already vulnerable and disadvantaged on numerous fronts and we just want them to have access to and experience the opportunities they deserve.”
She added: “I have the full support of the company directors and a phenomenal school manager who keeps my crazy and out there ideas more manageable and a fabulous staff team who go along with the vision and the ethos of the school: we believe you can!
“The support I have in the school means I can do my job to the best of my ability as well as the support we have had from parents in our first year. It has been amazing.
“I’m so honoured every day that they trust us with their precious little people. We recently did a fundraiser for Red Nose Day and raised more than £600 with then only 20 children then on roll! The parents and carers always go above and beyond for me. It’s a two-way relationship.
“We believe that education runs deeper than the traditional and love using local groups and activities to enhance the lives of our families. Soccer Lions, equine therapy, swimming and play therapy all give our children the skills they need to be able to enjoy their lives and we ensure everything is delivered in an accessible way for our pupils.”