School-Home Support practitioners provide a range of different types of support for young people and their families. For many of the families we work with, practitioners will provide intensive support to the whole family over a sustained period of time. However, our practitioners can also provide early response support to help young people overcome a specific challenge or handle a specific situation.
We spoke to School-Home Support Practitioner Jefferson about what constitutes early response support and the impact it can have for his work with young people, particularly in building trusting relationships with individuals and the wider school community.
Can you explain what early response support is, and how it is different from the regular intensive support you offer?
Early response support typically involves providing minimal, targeted assistance to individuals or families who may not require intensive interventions. It focuses on addressing specific, less complex issues to prevent them from escalating.
What is the impact of early response support for the young people you support?
Early response support can have a significant positive impact on young people. By addressing issues early on, it prevents them from developing into more challenging problems. It helps create a supportive environment that fosters resilience and enables young people to navigate difficulties more effectively.
The impact is often preventive in nature, reducing the likelihood of escalation to a point where intensive support is necessary. It contributes to the overall well-being of young people and helps create a more stable and conducive environment for learning.
How has providing early response support helped you to build relationships with young people and their families?
Providing early response support allows for more frequent and casual interactions with young people. This consistent engagement helps in building trust and rapport over time. This eventually leads to members of my caseload feeling less stigma, and it also builds a better relationship with school staff. Building relationships through early response support creates a foundation for effective communication and collaboration, which is crucial in fostering a supportive school environment.
Jefferson shared with us a message he had received from a Year 11 student who felt that being able to talk to Jefferson during the school day supported them to stop self harming:
“Considering our two years together, you’ve been a significant presence in my life. Your impact on me has been considerable. I appreciate that I can share anything with you, and you’ve always been a good listener. It’s exactly what I’ve needed in recent months – someone who listens. Our conversations during breaks were comforting, just enough to help me through the day. Your support, whether I was feeling down, being a bit dramatic, or unintentionally rude, has meant a lot to me. I am genuinely grateful for the positive influence you’ve had on the person I am today and the person I aspire to be in the future. I know this might be a lengthy message, but I sincerely mean every word.”
Jefferson shared another example from a Year 11 pupil who had already had two classroom-based attempts at completing her four hour food practical, but needed more specialised support. This pupil spent her four hour practical 1-1 with Jefferson and successfully made fresh lasagne and apple crumble. Without this support, she would have been unable to complete her GCSE.
Early response support plays a vital role as an early intervention strategy, preventing issues from escalating and building strong, trusting relationships with young people and their peers, families and school staff.
If you would like to know more about the kind of support we provide for young people and their families, take a look at our latest Impact Report: https://www.schoolhomesupport.org.uk/impact/reports/