The qualification and although their involvement with pupils can

The FSW role inclusive and it is
important to remember that inclusion is a belief system that can be impacted
upon by negative comments such as “the
serious and socially desirable aims of offering all children good chances in
life, and helping them learn how to respect one another and live in harmony,
are derided as trivial and unimportant” (Griffen, 2008, p. 12). When practitioners are faced
with these negative comments, this can undermine inclusive practice. Children
and young people may not get the level of support they deserve. Language must
be positive; it is important not to give the impression that one group of
people or individual is superior to another. Staff must take this this
seriously as “it important that reportteachers and teachers reflect on the
extent to which their positive values permeate their daily teaching, so that
they routinely guide and change their practice.” (Cole, 2008)

The Munro
Report (DfE, 2011) highlights that effective professional relationships make a
real difference in improving outcomes for children and young people; for that
reason, it is the human relationships that are at the heart of the delivery of
effective services.  However, research
has shown that Practitioners require a range of skills, knowledge and
experience to achieve this. According to the Office for Standards in
Education (Ofsted,
2016) “Safeguarding
is not just about protecting children, learners and vulnerable adults from
deliberate harm, neglect and failure to act. It relates to broader aspects of
care and education including health and wellbeing and mental health” which is
where the role of the FSW becomes vital.

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It is important that
the FSW is sensitive to the needs of parents and pupils as there may be a need
for difficult and challenging conversations. Harris & Goodall (DCFS, 2007,
p.5) states, “Parental engagement is a powerful lever for raising achievement
in schools.

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When parents and
teachers work together to improve learning, the gains in achievement are
significant”.

Professional Issues

Due to the lack of
training available to the FSW, there is a need to provide training once the in role.
Many FSW’s begin their roles by completing a Teaching Assistant qualification
and although their involvement with pupils can prepare them for the position,
the engagement with parents is very limited and the need for Continued Professional
Development (CPD) to improve skills is required. It can be challenging with CPD
but with a well-developed programme of learning can be fulfilled over time.
With the provision of opportunity, support and guidance practitioners can
develop their own skills to fully engage with the role. For effective
professional development to take place their need to be a partnership between
the FSW, head teachers and other members of the school leadership team,
teachers, outside agencies and providers of professional development expertise.
(DfE, 2016) Five areas that have been emphasised as being intrinsic to
professional development are that there should be a focus on improving and
evaluating outcomes: there should be an underpinning of evidence and expertise,
collaboration and challenge must be included; the development must be
sustainable over time; and finally, all of this should be underpinned by the
school leadership team prioritising the development. (ASCL, no date)

 “Effective professional development for
teachers is a core part of securing effective teaching. It cannot exist in
isolation, rather it requires a pervasive culture of scholarship with a shared
commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils
benefit from the highest quality teaching.” (DfE, 2016, p. 4) Although most
legislation is centred around the need for the CPD of teachers in schools,
there is still a need for ‘support staff’ development. However, the
availability of courses and training available is very limited. One integral
part of the FSW is the need to visit families in their own homes and there
appears to be little or no training available for this leaving the FSW to build
upon their own knowledge and experience in their own lives as a basis for their
role.

Many children and
families become disengaged with schools for many different reasons. It could be
anything from a difference of opinion to the need to take safeguarding measures
to ‘protect the welfare of children and protect them from harm’. (HM Government,
2015) Parental engagement is vital within the role of the Family Support Worker
and combining this with the role of the Designated Safeguarding Officer which
incorporates the Working Together to Safeguard Children t the o identify the
need to: protect children and young people from maltreatment; preventing
impairment of children and young people’s health or development; ensure
children and young people grow up in circumstances consistent with the
provision of safe and effective care; and take action to enable all children
and young people to have the best outcomes.

Point 5 of National
Occupational Standards to Work with Parents (Lifelong Learning UK, 2011, p.5) states that “Work with
parents should value and build on parents existing strengths, knowledge and
experience.” Many
families come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and there is a need to
respect them all. Often parents who disagree with what is being suggested may
feel it is because of their culture, religion, background or family circumstances.  Whilst undertaking the role of the Family
Support Worker, there will be times when challenging families will contradict
everything that is being discussed. In these cases, it is vital to build those
relationships, gaining t trust, showing an understanding to issues and collaborating
to break down barriers arriving at solutions with the best possible outcomes
for everyone but more importantly, the child involved. 

 

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There is a need to remain professional always to build upon
the trust of the parent   Useful
information from the Parent Teachers Association (2017) website states that “85% of
parents tell us they want to do more to support their child’s school and have a
say in how their child is educated” which shows that the parents do want to
engage with a school but do not always have the capacity, knowledge or
experience to do this.