SHS in practice: seeing the difference at Odessa Infant School

News article from June 27, 2016

Practitioner Kim with guestsThis month, we hosted the second of our termly School-Home Support school visits, giving guests the chance to meet an SHS practitioner and hear first-hand what they do to support families in schools.

This time, we met Kim at Odessa Infant School in Newham. Some of the families with children at Odessa are experiencing significant and complex issues, such as homelessness, domestic violence and safeguarding issues. Kim provides support to these families so that these issues don’t become barriers to their children’s education. She spoke about how she works closely with other SHS practitioners in Newham, coming together regularly as a team to share local knowledge and achieve better outcomes for families.

Kim shared the value of being a School-Home Support practitioner. As she isn’t employed by the school, she can help to improve the communication between school staff and parents, who might otherwise feel isolated and unable to share the difficulties they are facing in their lives. Kim also explained how regular supervision was really key in her role. She meets with her manager regularly to discuss her cases and how she might best support families. Finally, Kim discussed how the SHS Welfare Fund is a valuable tool for engaging with parents and families, helping them to overcome practical issues such as not being able to afford school uniforms or bus fares.

We also heard from some of the parents Kim supports. It is clear that Kim’s openness about her own experiences as a mother have really helped the parents she works with. In particular, she has had a real impact for parents who have children with special educational needs, showing them that their children can have a positive and exciting future. Kim’s personality shone through – she made us laugh again and again, especially when we learnt that some of the parents attending English classes were mimicking Kim’s ‘authentic’ East End accent.

Kim’s strong connection with the parents and the way she builds trust really helps to transform the lives of families. It was a pleasure to hear about her work at Odessa Infant School and we have received wonderful feedback from the morning:

“Thank you so much for such an informative and powerful information session this morning. We both came out with a much clearer idea of the charity’s aims and how practically the practitioner works with families and the schools in such a wide variety of ways.”

Victoria Jarman, Chaucer Foundation

“Hearing firsthand from Kim and the mums makes it all so much clearer and makes me more enthused about what you are doing. Thank God that the Kims of the world exist.”

Christine Kenny – Managing Director, Loomis Sayles


“Thank you for inviting us this morning.  I found the session with Kim a real eye opener!  I am extremely glad we are supporting such a great charity.”

Lucy Slater, Human Resources Advisor, Sidley Austin

Our next visit will be held on Wednesday 14th September at English Martyrs Primary School in Southwark, hosted by practitioner Hopieann. If you are interested in finding out more, please email

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