‘Parents Mentoring’

Milton Keynes – Awarded £6,240

‘Parents mentoring’ is a project that works directly with parents who are struggling with their children.  The overall aim of the project has been to develop new approaches to enhance emotional wellbeing within the school environment which would join up existing interventions, and strengthen support for the whole family and school community.

Caroline High, School Services Coordinator, who led the project explains. Direct therapeutic, one to one, work with children in one of our Catholic primary schools in Milton Keynes was already being offered. This was targeted at children presenting with Attachment Difficulties and challenging behaviour likely to result in exclusions. The project has given the opportunity to extend the provision of direct support and counselling on a one to one basis to the parents of those children; and to develop parent networking and group sessions. Two successive mentoring programmes for school staff to develop their knowledge and understanding of children’s emotional development needs has also been held. Peer support for the emotional wellbeing of the school staff has also been provided.

Each programme was delivered in fortnightly one-hour sessions facilitated by an experienced Counsellor over a school term and approximately 20 school staff have participated. The mentoring programme has been well received and we are following this up with monthly peer support groups to sustain staff development and to give continuing support. We have also delivered a twilight training session for all school staff to raise awareness and to support a whole school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing.

In the early stages of the project we invested some time in trying to involve other primary schools within close proximity so that we could share resources for parent mentoring and support, but this was difficult to achieve within the current climate of school budget cuts and we therefore focused resources on developing the provision within one school. We are hoping to secure funding to introduce the family worker role into one other neighbouring primary school during the Spring term 2012.

A proportion of the grant money has been used to part-fund a new school-based Family Worker role to continue to provide practical support for parents and to develop parent mentoring. We have supported parent drop-in sessions and themed workshops throughout the year and intend to offer bespoke parent mentoring programmes delivered by the Family Worker.

Which achievements are you most proud of?

Feedback from school staff about the impact of the direct work with children and parents has been very positive and staff believe that this has avoided permanent exclusions and reduced the frequency of incidents leading to exclusion.

The mentoring programme for staff has helped to ensure a whole school approach to recognizing the need to support the emotional needs of vulnerable children (including direct work with parents) and to develop current practice within the school. The Head Teacher is committing further funds from the school budget to continue to offer peer support and mentoring to staff working with the most vulnerable children, in recognition of the stresses they experience.

Who, do you think, has most benefited from your project?

The children who have accessed counselling, their parents and the whole school staff group in having a more open approach to dealing with emotional difficulties.

Caroline can be heard on: ‘St Francis Children’s’ Society’ in the video below:

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