A day in the life of an AllChild Link Worker

Link Workers are at the heart of the AllChild programme. Their work with young people and families is what drives the impact AllChild makes, and being based in schools gives them the chance to build strong relationships both with the young people and the adults around them. Although the Link Work role varies from school to school, the core of their work is about improving the social, emotional and academic outcomes of the cohort they work with for two years. To learn more about what the role involves, we asked one of our Link Workers to give us a glimpse into a day in their life. 

8.00 - 9.00am

My day at a primary school in West London begins between 8.00 and 8.30. This first half hour is a good time to catch up with some students on my cohort in breakfast club, before their lessons begin. Today, I’m able to have breakfast with a child in Year 2 who hasn’t had chance to finish her reading book yet. We read it together, and I help her write her comments about the book into her reading record. I also check in with some older students, and make sure they are set for the day with the right equipment - it’s important they start the day in the right frame of mind and with all the practical resources they need. 

After that, I have some time at the gates as the rest of the children come in to begin their day. It’s lovely to be able to greet them and their parents, and is also an opportunity to have some informal catch-ups which can give me useful information about how children might be feeling that day. I can also use the time to share any relevant information with parents and carers, and they can talk to me if there’s anything they want to share. 

9.00 - 10.30am

After doing some planning for the rest of the day, I join one of my children in Year 1 for some in-class support in his maths lesson. He can sometimes find it difficult to focus when the teacher is explaining a new idea, and 1:1 attention helps him stay engaged with the lesson. Today’s topic -  telling the time - is a challenging one, and with the teacher’s agreement I take him outside to go over the details again where there are fewer distractions. He is able to come back into class and complete some independent learning. One of his goals for the two-year programme is to achieve age-related expectations in maths, and so academic support is an important part of his personalised AllChild programme.

10.30 - 11.00am

I take the opportunity to catch up with some children I haven’t seen yet on the playground. One child is feeling a bit anxious and asks if she can feed the ‘worry monster’. I get the toy and she writes down a worry for it to ‘eat’. She says she feels a bit happier and we chat for a while before she goes to play. As emotional wellbeing has been flagged as a risk area for her, the worry monster is one of the handful of techniques we’ve been using to help manage her anxiety. At the beginning of term she was very eager to leave school, and believed she might have the chance to be home-schooled instead. However as the term has progressed she has decided she’d rather stay in school. The support put in place for her is mainly around confidence building, including drama sessions last term with our partner Tie Dye Drama, in which she surprised us all by confidently performing in front of the group. 

11.00 - 12.00

Before lunch I have a 1:1 with a student in Year 3. He has been practising his emotional regulation techniques, learnt in a previous term in Zones of Regulation sessions. He is proud to tell me he did his breathing exercises when a classmate annoyed him. As teamwork is one of his goals for this term, we talk about how he can apply those techniques in his afterschool QPR sessions. QPR are one of our delivery partners, and this term one of their coaches is working with 8 students on the AllChild programme, helping them learn teamwork skills through weekly football sessions. 

12.00 - 13.30pm

At midday I collect some Year 4 and 5 students for an early lunch. We eat together and then meet one of our Delivery Partners, Bryn from the Reclaimed Project, who is working with these 5 children this term. For an hour, the children work on their woodwork projects, with the encouragement and guidance of Bryn. It’s great to see how focused they are on their projects, and how much they enjoy it. These sessions also give them the chance to share their thoughts and feelings, and often leads to open and enjoyable conversations.

13.30 - 2.15pm

Time for a Reading Together for Pleasure session with three Y2 students. This weekly session is designed to encourage a love of reading and books, and the reading will often spark observations and thoughts about their own lives and experiences. We find a spot in the library and they choose from three books I pre-selected. They enjoy being read to, and also take turns to read pages aloud. It’s good to see how supportive they are of each other’s efforts. This also gives us plenty of opportunity to practise our listening skills.

2.15 - 3.00pm

I collect three Y1 students for Lego Therapy, a programme which helps children with communication skills, social interaction, teamwork and creativity. The challenge of the sessions is that only one person (the builder) can assemble the Lego. Another person has to read them the instructions, and the third finds the pieces. It can be really difficult to describe how the builder should assemble the pieces, and the temptation to do it yourself, or - for the builder - just to look at the instructions - is very strong! It’s easy to become frustrated, but as the weeks go on the students become more effective at their roles, and are used to the constraints of the structure. In this session, we have to have a pause to feel more settled midway through the project, but they manage to build the creation and feel proud of themselves. We always have time for some free play with Lego at the end of the session.

3.00 - 3.30pm

My last session today is another 1:1 with a Year 2 who is finding it difficult to remain in the classroom at the end of the day. He can find the environment quite overwhelming which can lead to disruptive behaviours. We talk about how our body feels in those situations, and ways we can recognise when we might be heading to the ‘red zone’. We also do some calm craft activities and he ends his school day in a good mood. 

3.30 - 4.30pm

On some days we have delivery partners after school - such as QPR or AndCircus, which teaches children circus skills, but today I finish sessions with the children at 3.30. The next hour is a great time to catch up with my In-School Lead and teachers, updating them on the children I have seen that day and catching up on their progress in the classroom. I finish the day by making sure all sessions and interactions are recorded on our systems. As we use data to measure our impact, it’s really important to make sure data is up to date and accurate. 

Applications for Link Workers and Associate Link Workers in London and Greater Manchester are now open.

together, every child and young person can flourish.