Explaining how poverty and disadvantage affect children’s learning is complicated. Life at home has a huge impact on children’s school attendance and engagement in learning. When a child is a young carer and is worried about their mum, or they know there’s not enough food in the house for dinner that night, is it any wonder they struggle to concentrate in class? Getting children to be in school is one thing, but getting children ‘ready to learn’ can be much more complex.
Our ‘See the Impact’ events give supporters an opportunity to hear directly from SHS Practitioners, headteachers, and parents about the difference our support has made to children’s lives and educational outcomes. It’s unanimously agreed that these events provide a deeper understanding of the problems many children live with, and, how, with the right support these can be overcome.
“I took away a huge insight into the ‘front line’ work of a SHS practitioner (which sounded quite multi-faceted and relational, so it is no wonder that all schools would wish to clone SHS Practitioner Marta). This type of impact session really does colour in the spaces that literal reporting and evaluation cannot.” – Chan Allen, Grants Assistant, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity
This term’s ‘See the Impact’ was at one of our schools in Finsbury Park – Pakeman Primary School – who were, in the words of Headteacher, Lynne Gavin, “carrying on as normal” following the recent attack on the local mosque. This event undoubtedly had an impact on the children and parents, as a number of children at the school had family members in hospital as a result.
SHS Practitioner, Marta Tildesley, talked about the work she does with families: everything from coffee mornings, one-to-one interventions with children, home visits, self-esteem work with parents, and complex support work tackling issues such as domestic violence. Together, Marta and Lynne create an environment of trust and support at Pakeman.
“The children I had the pleasure of talking to at this event have all come from difficult home lives and have been supported through SHS and the school to ensure they manage to attend school daily. They are supported to work through their personal experiences and to turn their lives around with positive outcomes. They are clearly loved and cared for, feel secure are happy again and most importantly, can enjoy being a child! This has been a humbling and truly eye-opening morning.” – Alicia Hassett, Fidelity Charity Committee
One of the stories that particularly stood out was Marta and Lynne’s “fairy cake moment”. We heard the story of a young boy who was “seriously unhappy and never smiled.” Experiencing abuse at home, Marta and Lynne had made all the appropriate interventions for the boy, including referrals to social services. As well as keeping a very close eye on the situation, Marta was working hard to ensure Mum felt supported and stayed engaged with her son’s education. Marta started doing some cookery classes with the child; a bit of one-to-one time, and a practical activity aimed to boost his self-esteem. He brought the cakes to the Headteacher’s office and offered Lynne the largest, most beautifully decorated cake. Lynne told us that was the first time anyone at school had seen him smile. It’s a moment she describes as being worth more than anything and one that will forever be remembered by Marta and Lynne as “the Pakeman fairy cake moment.” Work continues with the family, but the child is doing better and is much happier.
School-Home Support tackles multifaceted problems such as poor mental health, domestic violence, safeguarding issues or poor parental engagement. Our approach is to work with parents and families to create sustained change in children’s home life, so they can succeed at school. It’s never the same solution, the work can be challenging, and it almost always requires persistence, ingenuity and a trusted relationship between parents and SHS Practitioners.
If you’d like to come to our next ‘See the Impact’ in September, please call Emma on 020 7426 5009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.