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.
Jacob’s story demonstrates how the whole family support our practitioners offer can relieve the pressure of complicated home lives on young people, giving them the time and space to focus on their education.
What was the situation?
Jacob is 12 years old and lives with his mum, his two older brothers and his younger sister. Originally from Czechia, his family have moved around a lot, and the recent move to the area was due to Jacob’s mum experiencing physical abuse from his father. This was having a significant impact on Jacob’s education, as he was at his fourth new school since 2019.
Jacob’s family were living in extremely difficult and cramped conditions, with Jacob and his younger sister sleeping on two sofas pushed together in the living room. Their situation at home was putting great strain on the family’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Jacob was relied upon to support his mum with her physical and mental health needs, as well as translating for her. When he was able to get to school, he was emotionally and physically drained and struggled to engage in his lessons.
How did School-Home Support help?
School-Home Support practitioner Danielle worked closely with the family to tackle their difficult living conditions, utilising our Welfare Fund to buy new foldaway beds to ensure the family all had their own bed to sleep in, and supported them with the process of applying for better housing. At school, Danielle worked with school staff to allocate free breakfast club places for Jacob and his younger sister, meaning she was able to have a daily morning check-in with them both to monitor their attendance and wellbeing. She supported Jacob to join the school football team, which he greatly enjoyed and allowed him to find his place among his peers.
By tackling the family’s housing issues, and supporting Jacob at school, his attendance, engagement and wellbeing started to improve. In just one month of support, Jacob’s attendance increased from 69.1% to 74.5%, an extra two full days in school. Happier at school and at home, Jacob and his family are building resilience for the future.