At our Conference, Paula Swanston and Lyn Williams from Home Link Family Support presented about systemic change within a school community, drawing on their experience from a pilot project with Lawfield Primary School in Midlothian. This project was a partnership between Play Therapy Base, Home Link Family Support, Children 1st, Midlothian Sure Start and Midlothian Council. The partnership provided a variety of interventions to tackle challenges with pupil attendance, violent incidents, staff support and parental engagement with the school.
Paula and Lyn discussed in detail how this innovative partnership was set up, in particular how the school was encouraged to see the wider issues within their community which impacted on a pupil’s ability to learn. A whole shift in culture was needed within the school, which took time, expertise and flexibility from all partners. The result of this pilot was a reduction in absconding, exclusions and lates, an increase in reading attainment and parental engagement, and a single referral pathway for supporting pupils within the school.
In addition to the presentation, attendees to the seminar were able to be involved in playing the roles of different partners within a wellbeing meeting, normally chaired by the head teacher within the school. This provided attendees with a brilliant opportunity to reflect upon professional perspectives, whilst also discussing how parents would be involved in these deliberations.
Overall, this seminar provided an excellent opportunity to hear about a highly successful partnership between the voluntary sector and education, the challenges which arise during this situation, and the impact this can have upon both a child’s wellbeing and their attainment while they are in school.