A group set up to give students a “sanctuary” at Smestow has proven so popular that there is already a waiting list of pupils wanting to join.

The Connect Club was established for pupils who want to take part in structured activities during the lunchtime break.

There are now 19 pupils from Years 7 to 10 in the club, with more on a waiting list, since it was set up at the end of April.

Lead Learning Support Assistant at Smestow, Rosa DiPaolo, says the aim of the group is to provide support for those pupils who do not always feel comfortable engaging with others at lunchtime.

She says: “We have pupils from a variety of backgrounds in the group, some who don’t speak English as a first language and some who just need a bit of extra support.

“The whole ethos is that we are a team who have fun doing group activities together – it’s like a sanctuary from the lunchtime break, which can feel quite intimidating for some children.

“We are currently doing a gardening project and the group has been given a patch of land at the back of the school where they are growing vegetables.

“It’s a great way for them to work as a team and it gives the pupils a focus during the lunchtime break which is really helpful.”

Mrs DiPaolo says the Year 10 pupils act as mentors for the younger children, which is great experience for all of them.

“We have been absolutely delighted with the success of the group,” she says.

“We spoke recently with the pupils involved and they said they felt like a family, with the older ones looking out for the younger children in the group and helping them along.”

Pupils who attends the club say it has been a huge help to them – here are some of their comments.

“I love Connect Club and I am now more excited about coming school than I used to be.”

“Everyone helps each other out and we stick together.”

“It’s great because I used to get into trouble but now I go to Connect Club I don’t any more.”