The School & Family Works was launched at 11 Downing Street on 4 March 2010 at an event hosted by Mrs Maggie Darling. Since then, a lot has happened.
The following summary of news events demonstrates the progress that we have made and is an attempt to keep you up to date with what we are doing. For further details and/or for answers to your questions, please contact us.
As an organisation, we have been working internally on anti-racist practice.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the inspiring Black Lives Matter movement acted as a catalyst for us to face up to the reality of racism within the UK, our organisation, our bodies and ourselves.
In July 2020 we established an Anti-Racist Practice Group. We have produced a timeline that will be regularly updated to demonstrate how we, as an organisation, continue to work on this urgent issue. The timeline can be viewed on our Family Group website.
We are committed to being an anti-racist organisation. Unless we are, we are limited in our capacity to enable change.
Our very grateful thanks go to John Lyon’s Charity for the generous grant they have provided to support Family Group in four London primary schools. Responding to an application made by Fulham Primary School, John Lyon’s Charity has awarded £40,000 p/a towards the four-school ‘Connect’ Family Group programme which will run in London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea from September 2022 – July 2025. This grant is a substantial contribution to the programme, which is to include a knowledge-sharing ‘Community of Practice’ project.’
We are delighted to introduce Hannah Phillips, our new Operations Coordinator. Hannah joins us from the England & Wales Cricket Board where she has been the International Teams Administrator since 2017. Hannah has also managed to fit in an MSc in Psychology in the last few years.
We are pleased to announce that as part of our ‘Transforming Lives’ programme we have funding available to support two more local primary schools in West London (Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston).
Announcing our new Programme Manager
We are delighted to welcome Joanna Watson to the SFW team. Joanna joins us as our new Programme Manager for our Transforming Lives Project. Joanna has spent six years as a trainer, consultant and senior manager for school development at the mental health charity YoungMinds, where she specialised in helping schools to build resilience in children, families and systems.
Joanna will play a pivotal role in our ‘Transforming Lives’ programme; a knowledge sharing project in West London schools, with seven Family Groups being delivered in state schools, a Food Project and a Graduate Group for parents.
This is an exciting time at SFW and we are pleased to have Joanna on board to help us to widen the support we offer to schools and the West London community.
We have found a fantastic food project to collaborate with during this lockdown. Surplus is based at Bedfont Lane Community Centre close to Southville Junior School.
They are a community food project run by a team of volunteers and they are open to everyone in the community. Not only do they provide a range of essential food supplies for the community, but they are also making lunches for children who are entitled to free school meals. These meals have been very popular and they are now providing over 30 lunches a day. They are also helping the local community with clothing, baby equipment and bedding.
To find out more about the project, please visit their JustGiving page. They are raising money to cover their costs and to help fund the free lunches for children in the community.
SFW Food Project at Southville Primary School and Victoria Junior School
We are pleased to announce we have been awarded a grant from Hounslow Borough Council to support our’ Feeding Families’ Food Project. The grant has helped us to re-launch the Food Stall at Victoria Junior School and to open a new Food Stall at Southville Primary School in Bedfont.
Find out more about our food project.
Update on Family Group during the new lockdown
With the new lockdown commencing today we would like to reiterate our position on providing Family Group in school.
Family Group is an essential therapeutic intervention for children at primary school who have been identified as having social, emotional and mental health needs, behavioural disorders, and / or special educational needs. Parental participation is fundamental to this holistic, systemic model. When consulted in September 2020 the DfE specifically endorsed the intervention continuing at Langford Primary, subject to the implementation of SFW’s Covid 19 Risk Assessment, previously distributed to all Family Group schools. The New National Restrictions from 5th November do not change that position.
The School & Family Works is the trading name of Transgenerational Change Ltd, a social enterprise. As a business, we are exempt from the new orders to close from 5th November since we provide ‘support groups’. "Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support".
We’ll be continuing to work with you, in person, in partnership, to help vulnerable families manage the additional challenges they’re facing. Please be assured that to avoid any additional risk of contagion, our ‘internal’ meetings (Team Meetings, Supervision etc) will move to online platforms for the duration of the lockdown.
SFW Food Project: responding to the Covid-19 crisis
In response to the C19 crisis, the original Victoria Junior School Community Food Association Food Stall which ran on Monday and Thursday afternoons has morphed into a much wider supply and distribution network through our collaboration with a number of other partners.
Shortly before the crisis occurred, we appointed Christine Weller (Crissy) to co-ordinate and develop the food project (12 hrs/wk). Crissy is one of the founders of The Real Junk Food Café Project in Twickenham, a pop-up café that intercepts surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. Primarily due to Crissy’s initiative and her pre-existing connections in the ‘waste’ food distribution network, we have been able to respond rapidly as other projects have closed, greatly increasing the volume and range of food we can offer cost-free to people who need it.
Our Food Project is now better resourced. We have been fortunate to receive funding from St Paul’s Girls’ School so Crissy can now manage the project 5 days/wk. Through this generous support, we have the chance to develop our service and take a longer-term view. Need is rising, and as the Government’s furlough scheme drops to 60% of income, we expect more families to require support.
Our response to the COVID-19 crisis
In these unprecedented times, we are determined to continue to work in partnership with you to support Family Group families and to face the many challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re in a process now of reviewing how we can apply our multi-family therapy work to greatest effect while operating safely and avoiding contributing to any spread of the virus. Our model will have to flex to stay relevant to the particular challenges families are facing currently and we anticipate that we will need to deliver much of our support ‘virtually’.
Our therapists continue to work to their contracts, spending at least seven hours a week during term time delivering services to each Family Group community. After careful consideration and in anticipation of your continuing support, we have guaranteed their salaries until our year-end (31 August). Their support to the school will continue through liaison with the school-based partner.
Recognising the strength of community, we will, if possible, find a way to hold a weekly, shared, multi-family meeting using technology. We will also attempt to maintain some level of support during the holidays and in spite of any forced closures of our schools. While schools remain open, we may need to host these forums after school hours, to include parents and children. While we are unlikely to be able to maintain the usual FG structure, we will retain key elements including shared problem solving and accountability to the group (using targets). We’ll find a way to provide regular supervision sessions for therapists to help quality assure the frontline work. We’ll continue to work with you regarding safeguarding issues.
We will use our Facebook page and Family Group website to provide connection, guidance and reassurance. Where our Food Project operates, we’ll seek to continue to provide foodstuffs to families within the school community. Where our new Graduate Group operates, our therapist will seek to engage and support new members.
As ever, thank you for your continued support.
Five-Year Grant from The Community Fund at the National Lottery
On our 10th anniversary, we are thrilled to announce the award of a five-year grant from The Community Fund at the National Lottery.
Our ‘Transforming Lives’ project is a knowledge sharing project in West London schools, with seven Family Groups being delivered in state schools, a Food Project and a Graduate Group for parents.
We are excited to have the expertise of colleagues at MLD and SEMH settings and support from partner schools in the independent sector.
This funding will help Family Group parents and children to fulfil their potential. It will allow us to support participating schools and the wider West London community, bringing people together and build strong relationships.
We are looking to match fund the Reaching Communities award.
Please get involved!
SFW presents at the next BACP conference
We are pleased to announce that Bridget McCabe will be presenting at the BACP Children, Young People and Families conference on building resilience and self-esteem. The event takes place at Etc Venues St Pauls, London on Saturday 22 February 2020.
Bridget will present a workshop on ‘Family group: supporting schools, strengthening families, enabling change’. The session will showcase our multi-family therapeutic intervention known as Family Group and will include contributions from the families we support.
For further details on the conference visit the BACP website.
Peer Review at Old Oak Primary School highlights good practice in working with parents
Old Oak Primary School based in Shepherd's Bush has run a Family Group in the school since 2013.
The Old Oak Family Group is featured as an example of good practice within the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.
The report notes the positive benefits of attending Family Group. 'Each and every parent was able to describe precisely the difference it was making, either in terms of their child's attitude to school, fewer absences and lateness at the start of school, or increased participation in school activities.'
The full report can be read here.
SFW awarded National Lottery Funding
We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. The funding has enabled us to commission a new Family Group at Jubilee Primary School in the London borough of Lambeth.
Mark Griffiths, CEO of The School & Family Works says “We are grateful to the National Lottery for the funding they have awarded us. This money will mean we are able to improve the wellbeing and life chances of disadvantaged children and their families”.
Family Group Showcase Event
On 25th January 2019 Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham and Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich & West Norwood co-hosted a Family Group showcase event at Richard Atkins Primary School in Streatham. The event was introduced and hosted by Nadia McIntosh, Headteacher at Richard Atkins.
The event was an opportunity for guests to hear first-hand about Family Group, our school-based multi-family therapeutic intervention, and how it supports families, schools and communities in areas of high deprivation. Many of the guests were senior leaders of independent schools in Streatham and Dulwich, interested to learn more about Family Group.
Chuka Umunna talked about the challenges faced in Lambeth, which is the eighth most deprived area in the UK. He stressed the importance of tackling these issues holistically and the key role of early intervention in schools. Chuka described Family Group as a “meaningful and successful intervention”. He said, “I hope from today we can work together to support this intervention to benefit our children and young people”.
Victoria Junior School has run Family Group for the past 8 years. David Lee, the Headteacher, spoke enthusiastically about the effect Family Group has had on the school. He explained that they had lost 157 days to exclusions the year prior to having a Family Group in the school: last year they were down to just 2 days of exclusion. He discussed some of the changes Family Group has made to the school community, “the school becomes a listening school, able to support families”. He said, “We have saved lives through this intervention. It is vital more schools have it”.
Mark Turner is Head of King’s House School, an independent prep school for boys on Richmond Hill. Joined by Professor Katie Urch, Public Benefit Governor, Mark explained how King’s House are supporting SFW to provide Family Group in state schools. Katie observed that our work with families facing disadvantage, in state schools, addressing mental health needs, involving parents, children and school, was a perfect match with the priorities identified by Public Benefit Governors at King’s House.
Pam Marshall, our therapist at Richard Atkins, introduced a ‘speed-dating’ networking activity. Our guests were introduced to a number of Family Group ‘experts’ - parents and children who attend Family Group as well as our therapists and independent researchers. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and for our guests to find out first-hand about the support offered by Family Group.
To conclude the event, Mark Griffiths, our CEO, presented our ‘Theory of Change’. He explained how we adapt to our environment, so if we are used to an environment of stress and fear, we get stuck, that becomes normal for us. “So in Family Group, we provide a safe, responsive environment, rich with stimulation, with support and challenge in order to enable new positive experiences - undoing the old patterns, re-setting the pathways and practising the new learnings.”
The feedback from the event was very positive. Everyone went away, understanding how Family Group works and wanting more Family Groups set up in schools. One guest said, “The energy has been amazing!” Another attendee said, “We are all in agreement about the intervention but there is really sound evidence that it works too. On the NHS, you get 6 sessions. In Family Group, on average, 15 months of intervention”.
We hope to be hosting more showcase events like this in the future. If you are interested in finding out more about Family Group then please get in touch with us.
Family Group Food Stall at Victoria Junior School – a big success!
Family Group and Feltham Graduate Group have teamed up to create a Community Food Association at Victoria Junior School. Through FareShare, we are helping ensure that good food, destined for the landfill, is redistributed to hungry families.
Our CEO Mark Griffiths was inspired by a similar initiative at the ETNA Centre in Twickenham led by two local Mums, Chrissy Weller and Clare Box. The community café, set up under The Real Junk Food Project banner, runs at ETNA Centre every Monday. The pop-up café uses food that would otherwise go to landfill and re-distributes it on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. Mark realised the potential of this project and saw the opportunity to do something similar in schools.
Our Food Stall project is led by Denise Haines, an ex-Family Group parent, and the co-facilitator of our Graduate Group. Denise and a team of current/ex-Family Group parents run the food stall in the playground at Victoria Junior School when parents arrive to collect their children. The stall distributes all the food that cannot be used by the Twickenham community café, plus food collected from Tesco stores and The Cavan Bakery. Our Food Stall runs on Mondays and Thursdays, from 15.15-15.30 on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.
The stall has been a big success and well received by the school and parents/carers. This project brings great joy. Great food – for mere pennies – and the knowledge that you are doing something helpful simply by eating!
The Food Stall demonstrates tangibly the help and sense of community Family Group offers. We anticipate the Food Stall encouraging more families to become curious about Family Group and how else it can help them.
The Real Junk Food Project and our Family Group food stall have both been featured in a recent article in The Guardian.
Last month, we were invited to present a workshop on Family Group at ‘Minding the Gap in Children's Mental Health’, a conference run by UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
The conference considered the ways psychotherapeutic approaches could be used to meet the current national scale of unmet need in child and adolescent mental health. As UKCP explains, “There is a big empty space at the centre of the national conversation about child mental health, where psychotherapeutic professionals have something to offer and need to be strongly represented.”
The Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, was the keynote speaker at the conference. Anne highlighted the shocking statistic that only 1 in 4 children who need help are getting treatment. Additionally, 700,000 children are growing up with parents who are facing multiple problems themselves. She explained that mental health provision is “shockingly poor”. Anne’s message to the government, “We need seismic change. Be bold. Be brave. Don’t compromise.”
Kathy Evans, CEO of Children England, addressed the audience during the afternoon of the conference. Kathy spoke with passion and determination about the work she does influencing policy on children’s mental health. She highlighted the difference psychotherapists can make to the lives of children and the importance of relationships. “It’s possible to have a huge impact from a small base - if you’re right!”
We were invited to present a workshop on our multi-family therapy groups run in partnership with schools. Our CEO Mark Griffiths and David Lee, Deputy Head from a London primary school explained what Family Group is and why it works. Parents currently attending Family Group also shared their insights into how the therapy has helped them and their families. Feedback from attendees was very positive: ‘How inspiring! It makes such sense to have the people who most want the child to succeed working together in one room’.
Mark Griffiths was interviewed by UKCP about Family Group and why it is so effective. This article gives a good overview of how Family Group works to support families.
The Next Steps project came to an end on 10 June 2017 and the final meeting of the project Steering Group took place at the end of that month. Grateful thanks for their support are due to our Project Manager (Emma Jarvis), our Advisor (Honor Rhodes) and to our Business Partner (Peter Dann of The Nursery Research and Planning).
The project has been tremendously beneficial and we now have a much better understanding of our markets, customers, operating model and key processes. We also have a clear plan in place for the 2017-2020 period - and have made encouraging progress in attracting the funding that will be necessary to deliver our growth ambitions.
We are very grateful to the Local Sustainability Fund and to both The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Lankelly Chase Foundation. Together, their generous funding enabled this project to be completed.
As part of the Next Steps project, we commissioned an independent, external evaluation of Family Group by Moira Forrester (MA, CMRS). Moira has spent ten years in the social research sector chiefly as research provider for 4Children, the national children and family charity, delivering research solutions on a range of children and family issues.
Moira's report is extremely positive. On the basis of interviews with 23 Family Group parents, she validated our Theory of Change and methodology and concluded that 8 out of 10 families evidence significant positive change.
A one page summary of Moira's report can be found here.
We are extremely pleased to have started a new Family Group at Ark Brunel Primary Academy. The lead therapist is Pam Marshall who is working closely with Michael Clegg-Butt (Ark Brunel Speech & Language Teacher) in an attempt to get the group launched shortly after half term. For more details, follow this link to the school's website.
We were introduced to Brunel by Carly Biggam, a school governor and a key member of Ark's Education team. Ark is an education charity that exists to make sure that all children, regardless of their background, have access to a great education and real choices in life. From working with just one school ten years ago, Ark has since grown into a network of 35 schools in the UK - and is now recognised as one of the highest achieving academy groups in the country.
The following extracts from our statutory accounts for the year ended 31 August 2016 give a useful summary of the 15/16 financial year and of the prospects for the year to 31 August 2017:
"As planned, during the year, the company launched a fundamental review of its strategy, business model and growth options. This review is known as the Next Steps project and, following initial support from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Lankelly Chase Foundation, we were delighted to receive significant additional funding for it from the Local Sustainability Fund ("LSF"). Delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, the LSF aims to help medium sized voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to secure a more sustainable way of working by providing funding and support to help them review and transform their operating models. The first phase of the Next Steps project (which began before LSF funding was received) focused on refining the company's long term strategy and Theory of Change and, with these foundations in place, a dedicated project manager, Emma Jarvis, was recruited to start considering growth options and to review our business processes. The project is not expected to be complete until mid 2017 but it should enable the company to prepare a high quality, achievable business plan for the medium term."
"Given our focus on the Next Steps project, growth was not a priority for 2015/16. In fact, Family Group activity levels were lower than in the previous year but we were able to maintain our partnerships with eight schools in Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond and Kingston throughout the year. In addition, in January 2016, we initiated a new Family Group in Ealing"
"In addition to Family Group, training and other services were provided throughout the year to a number of our partner schools and we also maintained support to various parents and children who had "graduated" from established Family Groups in Hounslow and Fulham. Our established partnership with Me too & Co (a Richmond based charity) enabled us to deliver another successful “Families Helping Families” course during the year and we replicated this delivery model in Ealing by teaming up with PESTS (Parents of Ealing Self Help Training Scheme) to deliver a second course. This was made possible by a generous grant from the Comic Relief Local Communities Programme".
"2016/17 is expected to be a very challenging year. All our schools are experiencing severe budget pressures and most have indicated that they are unable to maintain the same level of financial support to Family Group as they have in previous years. In certain cases, previous payments in advance are available to cover the shortfall but, in others, unless we can raise additional funding during the year, we will either have to curtail our activities or use our reserves to maintain our commitment to the families that we are supporting. In the light of these developments and taking into account the continuing support from certain charitable funders, the directors' current expectations are that Family Group activity levels in 2016/17 will probably be lower than those in the current year. However, any shortfall in income is likely to be more than offset by the phasing of the Next Steps project which is fully funded."
We are delighted to announce that our bid to the Local Sustainability Fund ("LSF") has been successful. Delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, the LSF aims to help medium sized voluntary, community and social enterprises organisations to secure a more sustainable way of working by providing funding and support to help them review and transform their operating models.
We are calling our LSF project "Next Steps" as it will enable us to consider alternative growth options and prepare for the future. The project will involve us in a fundamental review of every aspect of our business over the period April 2016 to June 2017.
In the extract from our accounts set out in the following paragraph, we mentioned the possibility of an additional Family Group in Ealing. This has come to fruition and Pam Marshall is now working closely with Berrymede Junior School to recruit families who will work together to make the group a success. This Family Group is generously supported by John Lyon's Charity
Our accounts for the year ended 31 August 2015 were finalised on 13 November. The following extract from these accounts gives a good summary of our current position:
“Following rapid expansion in the previous period, 2014/15 was a year of consolidation. Activity levels were slightly higher than in the previous year and we maintained our partnerships with nine schools in Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond and Kingston throughout the year. However, our Family Groups at St Nicholas School, Merstham and Kenmont Primary School, Hammersmith were discontinued in March 2015. In each case, this was because we agreed with the schools that it was no longer practicable to recruit an appropriate mix of suitable families to make Family Group a self-sustaining, cost effective community. More positively, we initiated a new Family Group in partnership with Christ's School, Richmond in the summer term of 2015 and we hope that this will be fully established in 2015/16.
Our commitment to gathering evidence was maintained and, in accordance with our logic model, we continued to monitor the wellbeing of all Family Group participants, together with the attendance at school and the attainment of participating children. As in previous years, our focus on a small number of children with extremely complex needs made it very difficult to reach statistically valid quantitative conclusions on the effect that we had had on attendance and attainment but, in all cases, it was clear that Family Group had had a very positive impact on wellbeing. This was confirmed by a respected, independent researcher, Dr Mary Richardson, who prepared detailed case studies on six separate Family Groups. Qualitative feedback of this sort remains the most convincing and informative evidence available to us but we will persist with our attempts to develop quantitative measures that provide useful and meaningful information.
In addition to Family Group, training and other services were provided throughout the year to a number of our partner schools and we also maintained support to various parents whose children had "graduated" from established Family Groups in Hounslow, Richmond and Fulham. Disappointingly, we could only obtain funding for one “Families Helping Families” course (in partnership with Me too & Co, a Richmond based charity) but this was an outstanding success and we hope to be able to build from this base in 2015/16
Schools continue to recognise that our interventions can help them to respond to a wide range of significant needs but, given the inevitable budget constraints that they are all facing, funding remains an issue. In this context, we are particularly grateful to our charitable funders for their generous support to the company or its partner schools:
Prospects for 2015/16 are mixed. Two schools have indicated that, for financial and operational reasons, they are unable to continue their commitment to Family Group while, at the same time, with the support of the local authority, we are in advanced discussions with a primary school in Ealing about working with them from early 2016. Further expansion may be possible in 2016/17 but, before this can take place, the company intends to carry out a fundamental review of its strategy, business model and growth options to ensure that it can remain sustainable. This review (which will be completed by 31 August 2016) will be supported by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The LankellyChase Foundation.”
As part of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Changing Perceptions project (see September 2013 announcement), Bridget McCabe has started a new Family Group in partnership with Christ's School, Richmond. Christ's is a 600 pupil, Church of England secondary school whose origins date back to 1658.
The school based partner who will co-facilitate the group is Lee Scott and the project has received generous support from Richmond Parish Lands Charity.
We continue to work with London's children and youth evidence hub (Project Oracle) to improve our methods for gathering evidence so that we can more effectively demonstrate that our Family Groups are delivering the outcomes predicted by our logic model. In this context, we are delighted that the first year of our Changing Perceptions project (see September 2013 announcement) has now been assessed by Project Oracle as meeting Standard 2 in their hierarchy of levels of evidence. A summary of their assessment can be found here
Schools continue to recognise that Family Group can help them to respond to a wide range of significant needs and, as a result, we have been able to replace the three schools that had previously decided to discontinue their Family Groups (see below). We are particularly pleased that, on the basis of the successful Family Group at Clarendon School, two of these schools are being supported by Achieving for Children ("AfC"), a social enterprise company created by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames to provide their children's services. We hope that this is the start of a long term relationship with AfC.
We remain very grateful to a number of key funders for their continuing support. These include the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, John Lyon's Charity, Dr Edward and Bishop King's Fulham Charity, Richmond Parish Lands Charity, Hampton Fuel Allotments Charity and Hammersmith United Charities.
As always, at the end of the school year, together with our partner schools and our funders, we carried out an in-depth review of our activities during 2013/14.
In all 11 schools hosting Family Groups, positive outcomes were achieved. Our commitment to gathering evidence was maintained and the demonstrable improvements in the attendance and wellbeing of the children who attended Family Group regularly were gratifying. It is too early to be confident that the benefits to these same children translate into sustainable attainment improvements but early signs are encouraging and, as our evidence base grows, we hope to be able to draw more robust conclusions. Participating parents also increased their wellbeing and it was particularly pleasing to see a number of "hard to reach" families re-connect with their school communities.
As announced in January 2014, Dr Mary Richardson produced independent case studies on two of our Family Groups. Her findings were very positive and, in addition to highlighting the impact of Family Group on the participating children, Dr Richardson emphasised the following as important impacts:
Development of a more cohesive school community and encouragement of parents to participate in school life
Provision of scope for parental support, understanding and action. This element is vital so that participants know they can make positive changes;
Of course, not everything went well. Recruiting the right number of the right type of "at risk" families was a constant challenge and, in a number of cases, the schools underestimated the efforts required to embed Family Group into their communities. Financial pressures and an increasing focus on short term results were also relevant and, together, these factors meant that, at the end of the school year, three schools concluded that they were unable to maintain their commitment to Family Group. This is highly regrettable as a much longer period is neccessary before systemic change can be achieved.
Plans to launch a new Family Group at Ivybridge Primary School, Hounslow are at an advanced stage. Together with the school, we have investigated various funding possibilities and, in spite of a number of false starts, it now appears that it will be possible to launch a group in September 2014.
As part of our continuing commitment to gathering reliable evidence that provides insights into the effectiveness of our work, we are delighted to announce that Mary Richardson has agreed to prepare independent case studies on certain families participating in our Changing Perceptions project (see September 2013 News announcement).
Dr Richardson (BA, PhD) is the Programme Convenor and a Principal Lecturer on the BA Education undergraduate programme at Roehampton University. She also teaches on the university’s MA and EDD postgraduate programmes. Before coming to Roehampton, Dr Richardson worked as a Senior Research Officer in the department of Research and Statistics for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. She has also worked in the development of educational programmes with campaigning non-governmental organisations and children's charities. In the past, she worked as a facilitator and producer of theatre with young people.
A very positive report on the external evaluation of our Hounslow SWIFT project carried out for the funder (The Paul Hamlyn Foundation) by OPM has now been published. This includes some fascinating case studies and, according to the executive summary of the report "The Family Group model is working as intended and shows extremely positive impacts." OPM write "The impacts of Family Group have been uniformly positive and both families and schools strongly endorse the intervention."
Both the executive summary and the full report can be accessed here
Reaction to the training and parenting programmes that we have been running at St Nicholas School, Merstham, Redhill has been so positive that the headmaster, Craig Anderson, has recently requested us to accelerate the launch of a Family Group at the school. This was originally planned for April 2014 but it is hoped that it will now start in November of this year.
St Nicholas is a small school for boys who have a statement of special educational needs due to their behavioural, social and emotional difficulties. Most also have difficulties associated with cognition, speech, language and communication.
More good news! We are delighted to announce that Paul Hamlyn Foundation has agreed to support a major new project in Hounslow which will enable us to work with five schools over the next three years. A full description of this project (which is known as Changing Perceptions) can be found on the Project Oracle site via this link
After many months of hard work, we were very pleased when our efforts to expand our work in Hammersmith & Fulham came to fruition.
From September, in addition to our Family Group at Fulham Primary School (see June 2011 announcement), we will be launching new Family Groups at Kenmont Primary School and at Old Oak Primary School. We will also be initiating a Graduate Programme for parents who have previously participated in one of these three local Family Groups.
Funding is complicated! As well as providing significant "in-kind" support, both Kenmont and Old Oak will be partly funding the project. In addition, John Lyon's Charity have confirmed their continuing support by generously agreeing to sponsor the project over the period 2013-2016. Finally, in 2013/14, both Hammersmith United Charities and Dr Edwards & Bishop King's Fulham Charity will also be providing significant financial support to the specific schools in their respective catchment areas.
This is a very exciting development and we are greatly looking forward to working with all our new stakeholders.
On 10 June, we were delighted to receive further recognition from Project Oracle when our SWIFT project was awarded a "prospective evidence" prize in recognition of the compelling evidence that we were able to show a panel of academic judges on how our work has improved the lives of children and young people in London.
The cash prize will be used to celebrate our success and to make further investments in our evidence gathering processes.
For further information, please see the Project Oracle details.
We are very pleased that our flagship project in Hounslow (known as the SWIFT project - see July 2010 announcement) has now been accredited by the GLA's Project Oracle as Level 2 in terms of their Standards of Evidence. This is a very positive assessment and, to date, only two other London projects have been rated as highly.
According to Esben Hogh, Project Oracle's Training Coordinator:
“Project Oracle Youth Evidence Hub is a major Greater London Authority initiative which aims to understand and share what really works in youth programmes to improve the lives of London’s children and young people. In our opinion, The School & Family Works partnership established with three Hounslow schools has a coherent and plausible programme model and a clear evaluation plan that measures relevant project outcomes in an appropriate way. Further, the project is producing evidence which suggests a strong indication that their Family Groups are making a positive difference."
Please use this link to see the Oracle summary of our project.
The Families Helping Families programme goes from strength to strength. We have continued our successful collaboration with Metoo & Co and a new programme began on 15 January. Shortly after, on 28 January, we began a seven week programme with Crossroads Care, Richmond & Kingston upon Thames. We hope to run further programmes in 2013 with both organisations.
The OPM - Office for Public Management evaluation of our Family Group project with SWIFT in Feltham has been published and is available on the Paul Hamlyn Foundation website. Here are a few highlights from the executive summary:
"The project is a highly targeted intervention working with children and parents in school- based multi-family therapy groups, referred to as ‘Family Groups’. A therapist and a school- based partner (usually in a pastoral role) run the weekly groups in schools, each attended by up to 8 families. The aim is to reduce the risk of exclusion, increase attendance and support attainment, by working with the whole family. Typically, families have complex needs and groups include some extremely vulnerable families.
Parent-child relationships are improved because parents feel more confident and empowered in their parental role. Children feel more supported and secure, often leading to improved attendance, behaviour and attainment at school. Schools report improved relationships with parents and children, and fewer disruptions in class.
The Family Group model is working as intended and is showing extremely positive impacts for children, families and schools, and therefore we do not suggest any substantive change to the approach."
The quantitative data included in the OPM report includes the findings reported in Mark's Blog (June 2012) that exclusions at Victoria Junior School have fallen from 58.5 days the year before Family Group to 8.5 days last year. OPM concludes:
"The majority of days lost to exclusion in 2010-11 concerned children who would go on to join Family Group in 2011-12. Therefore, the dramatic drop in days lost to exclusion in 2011-12 may very well be attributable to the intervention."
To go directly to the Family Group section of the report, click OPM Yr1 report SWIFT. Also, please pay particular attention to the Case Studies from pages 41-62 to understand the depth and impact of the intervention.
Working from their analysis of attainment data from Family Group pupils at KS1, KS2 and KS3 in our three SWIFT schools, 'So What?' has updated its initial findings from January. Their most recent report (Attainment Data Analysis Sept '12) demonstrates that:
We were delighted to hear that our application for funding from the Sport Relief - Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund had been successful. This funding (which will be managed by The London Community Foundation) will enable us to set up and run a self-help programme for parents who have "graduated" from Family Groups.
The programme will be based round regular meetings of Family Group parents, run by a parent who will be trained by and have "behind the scenes" access to our mental health professionals. Meetings will take place in a community centre and will include a relevant activity (eg first aid, interview practice etc). Before, after and sometimes during the activity, parents will discuss issues and help each other to identify solutions.
Clarendon School, Hampton is a school for pupils aged 7-16 with moderate learning difficulties and additional complex needs. We worked closely with them to devlop an innovative proposal to set up and deliver a Family Group over the period June 2012 to March 2015 and we were delighted when Richmond Parish Lands Charity and Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity agreed jointly to help Clarendon fund the group.
Sue Richards-Gray and Clarendon's Paul Jensen will jointly lead this project which is targeted to reach up to 24 families in Richmond, Hampton and Twickenham over the next three years. Sue and Paul will be supported by Mark Griffiths and John Kipps (Clarendon's Headteacher) respectively.
A preliminary report produced by So What...?, a market research company run by non executive director Baz van Cranenburgh indicates that Family Group pupils outperform their peers.
Working from c150 data points, So What…? used Average Point Scores (“APS”) to compare the progress of Family Group pupils against the national expectation that pupils would progress at 3 APS points per year.
So What…? concluded that Family Group pupils were ‘catching up’ with the rest of their school, by making faster progress than their peers. While the national ‘expectation’ is for pupils to progress at 3 APS points per year, the available data suggests that pupils who participate in Family Groups progress at 3.6 APS per year.
So What...?'s preliminary report is available here.
We were delighted to be able to finalise the details of a significant contract to deliver six Families Helping Families events as part of London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (“LBRUT”) carers strategy. This programme will take place in the period to 31 March 2012 under the leadership of Sue Richards-Gray.
Negotiations to deliver a Family Group in partnership with Town Farm Primary School, Stanwell were completed. This programme began in September 2011 under the leadership of Wendy Smith and, for the first year, it will be funded entirely by the school. In subsequent years, we hope that we will be able to attract additional funding from other sources.
In partnership with Fulham Primary School, we made a successful application to John Lyon’s Charity to set up and deliver a Family Group over the three year period 2011 – 2013. This project is the responsibility of Sue Richards-Gray.
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation agreed to fund a major external evaluation project that will involve OPM – Office for Public Management reviewing our work at three schools in Hounslow (for further details of this project, see the announcement dated July 2010).
A successful Yes Club pilot programme was carried out at Victoria Junior School.
Following their attendance at 11 Downing Street, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation generously agreed to fund three Family Groups in schools in Hounslow for three years. This breakthrough contract is being managed by Mark Griffiths and Nicola Carvalho and involves us working in partnership with Forge Lane School, Victoria Junior School and Feltham Community College.
In partnership with the local charity Metoo & Co and The Richmond Parent Carers Action Group, we launched the first Families Helping Families programme, delivered by Mark Griffiths. Subsequently Mark has worked with Metoo & Co to deliver a number of other successful programmes, including a very succesful follow up meeting of parents who "graduated" from the initial programme.