A day in the life of a School-Home Support Practitioner

News article from March 28, 2017

SHS Practitioner, Amy Turtle, gives us insight into her incredibly busy and varied work in a Southwark primary school.

8.30- Arrive at school and check post

Food poverty is a growing problem at our school yet parents don’t know where and how to access support. The food vouchers I have organised from the Waterloo Food Bank have arrived, so I pass them on to our school receptionist with a log sheet so she can keep track of the families in need who request them. I also update a colleague on the status of a family facing homelessness.

8.45- On the gate, greeting parents

Personal engagement with parents is critical; a mum approaches me and asks me to help her write a letter. I often support parents who speak English as a second language. She is from Sierra Leone and speaks Creole and Spanish but little English.

9.00- Sit down with the same mum to discuss the meeting we had at Citizens Advice

I sometimes attend appointments at Citizens Advice with parents so I can ask questions they may not have thought to ask and provide reassurance and ongoing support. She has three children under 6 years old living in one room with her husband. She needs a more appropriate home for her family and is trying to make a housing application but is struggling because they are new to the borough.

9.30- Pop into the Year 5 classroom

Including parents in their children’s development is a central part of my role. A group of children from year 5 and their parents have been invited to a Nomura aspiration session; visiting the Nomura offices to learn about what working in an investment bank is all about. I speak with those children and explain to them exactly what to expect so they can talk to their parents.

10.30- Parent appointment

Amy with pupils at Nomura

A significant proportion of my time is used to advocate on parents’ behalf when navigating the welfare systems. I meet with a dad who has cerebral palsy and is trying to make a housing application; we work on his case together. My intention is to ensure the council has all the medical evidence they need to make an appropriate judgement. Due to his condition he finds communication difficult, so I telephone the housing office on his behalf and ask them about the Occupation Therapy assessment he was expecting but has not heard back about. I also email Neil Coyle, the Southwark Labour MP, to see if he can help fast-track the application.

11.30- Meeting with the Nursery Nurse

The Nursery Nurse updates me on four families she has concerns about, ranging from overcrowding to domestic violence to challenging behaviours. Afterwards I assess how to approach these families and where to signpost them to.

12.30- Creating resources

Enabling parents to support their children at home is essential. The previous week I ran a ‘Reading Cafe’ alongside the Literacy Co-Ordinator for Year 1 and 2 parents, offering tips, advice and guidance when helping a child learn to read.

13.00- Inputting data

Tracking the impact of my work on the SHS (School Home Support) data logging system is vital, so we can adapt and make changes to suit the school community.

14.00- Local services

I research local courses for three parents who would like to improve their English and start training that will hopefully lead them back into employment.

15.30- A friendly face

I’m out in the playground, greeting parents and setting up appointments for tomorrow. Phew!

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