Published On: November 16, 2022|914 words|4.6 min read|
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Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis, Head of Inclusion and Safeguarding at Progress Schools, joined the organisation in 2022 after a thriving career in education. Justin previously worked in mainstream primary schools in the UK and internationally before serving as Deputy Head, Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead at a school in Dubai for seven years.

In Dubai, Justin’s role primarily saw him supporting students and families who required additional support with SEN and pastoral needs. It was in Dubai where Justin’s passion for education was truly ignited.

He said: “My time in Dubai made me passionate about how we can develop ourselves as educators and create bespoke education plans for those students who can so easily slip through the net.”

After returning to the UK, Justin searched for a role that would allow him to support some of the most vulnerable young people in society and help to unlock their true potential. He came across Progress Schools and was immediately impressed.

Justin said: “I have always enjoyed working as part of a team but being able to work across different settings and sites to support various teams was something that really excited me. The cohort of students within each Progress School is so diverse, and I felt it would allow me to drive positive change.

“Because the demand for inclusive settings was so high at Progress Schools, there was a chance for me to use my experience and skills to foster a nurturing environment where students can flourish.”

Coming into the organisation, Justin had a clear vision for what he wanted to achieve and was excited to experience the world of alternative provision for the first time. Whilst his personal development remained important, Justin’s main priority was to have an invaluable impact on a young person’s future.

Since joining the organisation, Justin has implemented several new processes that have positively impacted students and staff. He said: “I have worked closely with each Head of School and Designation Safeguarding Lead (DSL), enabling me to strengthen our safeguarding processes and foster a well-rounded support team.

Earlier this year, Justin spearheaded the launch of several new safeguarding initiatives, resources, and tools.

Justin said: “Monthly safeguarding bulletins and DSL forums have allowed for increased engagement and involvement, bolstering knowledge and understanding of effective safeguarding measures.”

PE Staff

To further embed safeguarding amongst staff and students, Justin supported the development of an embedded curriculum calendar. The calendar focuses on monthly EDI events, safeguarding, well-being, and SMSC, allowing staff to create a more holistic approach to national and international events and themes.

Speaking of why he feels alternative provision is so important, Justin said: “We provide a highly inclusive environment to meet the needs of young people who have struggled in mainstream settings. We are constantly finding ways to adapt our support, enabling us to deliver a bespoke experience for each student.”

Reflecting on his time at Progress Schools so far, Justin praised his colleagues for the fantastic work they have done to create positive pathways for learners.

When asked what his favourite part of the job was, he said: “Seeing the capabilities of our students and watching them flourish. It is also fantastic to witness staff recognising the positive impact on learners.”

In the coming months and years, Justin would like to see his role evolve to enable him to build stronger working relationships with external partners that can support positive change across the organisation. Justin said: “To support company growth, I am keen to continue developing vital partnerships internally and externally that bolster our processes.

“My main goal will always be to enable our students to access a safe, nurturing, and supportive environment that helps them achieve. We have some fantastic plans in the works, and I can’t wait to see them come to fruition soon.”

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