Our latest impact data shows that the need for family support to tackle low school attendance has more than doubled in the last year. While the main causes of low attendance haven’t changed, we have seen that they have intensified since the pandemic, and in the midst of the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Our dedicated family support practitioners completed 56% more interactions with families – meetings, phone calls or visits – than in the previous year, a reflection of the day to day struggles families are facing.
Our family support approach works in tackling the underlying causes of school absence. When young people are referred to us for attendance issues, we work with the whole family to understand what’s driving absence and work with them to overcome the barriers to education and build resilience. We know that our approach works because 7 in 10 persistently absent children (those children missing more than 10% (or 20 days) of their schooling each year) supported by School-Home Support (those children missing more than 10% (or 20 days) of their schooling each year), spent an average of 6 more weeks in school after support.
Ella’s story demonstrates how building a trusting relationship with both the young person and their family enables our practitioners to tackle the factors affecting poor mental health, to improve wellbeing and build confidence both at school and at home.
What was the situation?
Ella is 10 years old and lives with her mum and dad. When she was referred to School-Home Support her attendance was 65% and she often arrived at school very distressed and upset. She was struggling to engage with her school work or her peers, which was exacerbating the anxiety she felt about going to school. Ella’s mum found her distress at school very worrying, and was often reluctant to bring her in.
How did School-Home Support help?
Working with her School-Home Support practitioner Clancey, Ella’s attendance steadily began to improve. Clancey met with Ella’s mum and her teacher to better understand her needs, and began weekly 1–1 sessions with Ella to build a trusting relationship that supported her to build her confidence and self-esteem at school. Small actions, like purchasing the family an alarm clock through our Welfare Fund made the morning routine easier and ensured Ella was getting to school on time.
Clancey set up a friendship group with Pupils in Ella’s class, providing lots of opportunities for Ella to play and interact with her peers, reducing her feelings of isolation at school and meaning Ella began to look forward to being there.
With Clancey’s support, Ella’s attendance has improved to 85%, and she is arriving at school happier and calmer. As Ella’s mum trusts Clancey to care for Ella at school, she feels confident encouraging her to go to school. Spending more time at school, Ella is building confidence, progressing in her school work and playing happily among her peers.