In January 2022, a team of expert School-Home Support practitioners began working with children and families in the North Liverpool and South Sefton area to improve school attendance and life chances
Our recent See the Impact event gave us the opportunity to share our work in Merseyside with our supporters and celebrate the impact our expert practitioners have already made to improve school attendance in the area. Practitioners Amy and Sam, along with James from Fazakerley Primary School, shared their experiences of working with children and families to overcome barriers to education and get children back into school, ready to learn.
“For one family, the child and parent struggled with anxiety and bullying. Through home visits and regular encouragement to help the child attend school, the child was able to make new friends and build his confidence.” Sam Padmore, School-Home Support Practitioner
“For many families, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of both children and parents, with many especially anxious about returning to school and getting back to normal life. It is especially important that we are able to signpost these families to the right support for them.” Amy Walsh, School-Home Support Practitioner
“We have been really impressed with the impacts the School-Home Support practitioners have already made for our children and families. We have a high number of parents who have previously been reluctant to engage in formal support in a school environment, and the practitioners have been able to build relationships with families who are now more open to support. We have seen our persistent absentee rate drop from 24% to 18%, which is a fantastic improvement.” James Kilburn, Senior Pastoral Leader at Fazakerley Primary School in Liverpool
The situation in Liverpool
56% of schools in Liverpool are facing high rates of persistent absence. In just one school in Liverpool, 108 out of 189 pupils are persistently absent from school. In 2018/19, more than half a million school days were lost to absence in Liverpool, which equates to 9.3 school days of absence per pupil.
Our School-Home Support practitioners, like Amy and Sam, have been providing expert help to support families to develop strategies to tackle the challenges at home and improve school attendance, acting as a bridge between school and home and supporting families to build resilience.
Our work in Liverpool is never more needed, and we are proud to have a dedicated and talented team working with children and families to offer expert and targeted support.
Building on our success in Blackpool
We have been working in Blackpool for over three years, and our community based approach stands as a beacon of best practice. Our highly trained practitioners work in schools to deliver support to those families that have been identified as needing extra support, with the goal of reducing permanent exclusions and fixed term exclusions from school. By intervening early, our practitioners prevent the escalation of the complex issues the families are facing.
Blackpool previously had the largest (per capita) Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in the country, with over 400 children using the service in one calendar year. Through the hard work of the School-Home Support team – along with other targeted interventions – the number of pupils using the service has dropped dramatically to 110.
The success of our community based approach in Blackpool provided us with the evidence to secure funding from the DfE to expand our service into North Liverpool and South Sefton. The DfE will fund our work in Merseyside for two terms, but it is crucial that we build upon this, as our experience shows that longer term support results in a lasting impact for the children and families we support.
In order to achieve real impact for children and their families in the region, it is vital we continue this work over the next three years, continuing to work in many of the schools and expanding our support in the region through targeting key areas of need.
“Our project in Blackpool has been a huge success, we are delighted to now be working in Liverpool supporting families. Our practitioner model works because it compliments the vital work done by others in schools and other settings, adding much needed capacity at a time of great need.” Nicola Williams, Regional Family Intervention Manager (North)
“With the residual effects of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis making home life more difficult, families need support now more than ever. Our practitioners make a real difference, supporting families so that children and young people are in school and are not missing out.” Jaine Stannard, Chief Executive