Rachel with the Digital Geeks in the RNC Bistro (Left to right: Maisy, Shammi, Rachel Beaumont, Connah and Sam H)
Rachel has been a Residential Manager at RNC since 2007 and after hearing about other members of staff being grilled by the Digital Geeks, she thought she’d get her interview out of the way sooner rather than later. Here’s how the interview went…
What size bowling ball do you use?
Whatever is the smallest one!
Do you like Brussels sprouts?
Yes, I actually do.
Ok, random questions out of the way: Why did you choose RNC?
I’d worked in a specialist school previously so had knowledge and experience in an education setting. I grew up in Herefordshire so have always been aware of RNC and thought that it would be a really interesting place to work; I wasn’t wrong!
What do you do in your job?
I am the residential manager for Armitage Hall and The Lodges, which are the areas of residence for the adult trainees on our DWP-funded Work Ready programme.
I am also responsible for student wellbeing services so I work closely with the nurses, the counsellor, the WSOs (Wellbeing Support Officers) and the 24hr RSO team (Residential Support Officers).
I meet the potential students and trainees on their Pre-Entry assessment and identify any health or wellbeing support needs and then work with the other residential managers and support teams to ensure that RNC can provide them with a safe enabling environment where they maximise personal independence.
Have you got any coping strategies for everyday stress?
Someone once said to me “don’t eat the elephant” which has always stayed with me – it basically means that you don’t see something as one big problem. Instead break it down and see it as lots of small things so you can tackle each bit at a time.
How long have you been working at RNC?
I’ve been working here as a Residential Manager since 2007. The place has changed so much since I’ve been here and is completely different in a positive way. Not only the physical buildings, they’re used a lot more efficiently and are much more accessible. Also, the attitude and culture has become increasingly student-focussed, which I think is absolutely the way it should be!
Have you had any terrible jobs in the past?
When I first started working I had a few random jobs; car sales, secretary and bar maid. I was hopeless at all of them! The worst one was probably working in the pub, having to deal with drunken people when you’re sober is not fun!
What did you do before you started working at RNC?
When I initially left school, I worked in a nursing home with people who had dementia and then I worked for many years in a specialist school for children with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders.
Did you work with anyone with visual impairment before coming to RNC?
I had worked with people with special needs in the past and looking back, yes I think I did work with someone who had visual impairments but it was not diagnosed at the time. At the specialist school I was working at, one of the students had no verbal communication, this individual could become anxious when moving between rooms or going in and out of buildings and thinking back, this may have been because they had a visual impairment and were having difficulties with changes in light conditions and changes in floor surfaces.
Can you read braille?
I’ve tried in the past but I found it really hard because I don’t have much natural ability with languages and couldn’t grasp the concept. I am in awe of the progress many of our students make with this in such brief time.
Do you know sign language?
I know a basic form of sign language known as Makaton, which is used a lot to communicate with children who have SEN (Special Educational Needs). Makaton reinforces words with actions so is good for people with learning difficulties or autism. They also say that if mums teach Makaton to their babies, it encourages them to speak much earlier.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I meet students and trainees at their Pre-Entry assessment and it’s always amazing to see their transformation, whether it’s personal or academic or both! It’s amazing how much progress students make during their time here.
What have you learnt about yourself since working here?
A lot of my work is with the adult trainees, some of which are a similar age to me and have a similar background. Their lives can be completely changed from one event whether it be an accident, illness or whatever. They often didn’t know it was coming and in one day everything changed. So I try to appreciate everything I have and enjoy each day as it comes because I know an event like this could happen to any of us.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to work at RNC?
Expect the unexpected – every year is different at RNC, you have a different group of students who are all unique in their own ways. I definitely think that RNC is the most diverse place you can work in Herefordshire!