Focus Family - Children Who Have Not been Attending School Regularly

As can be seen from the Education page of the Family Outcome Plan (below) a wide range of factors can be considered for a family to meet this criterion. The plans focus on priority areas of school attendance below 90%, exclusions, not on school role and those in alternative provision due to behavioural problems.

The aim of the work is twofold; to put support in that will improve school attendance and to address the barriers within the family to ensure good school attendance is maintained.

Some useful things to consider are:

  • The young person does not have to be at statutory intervention levels for school attendance; professional judgement is a valid reason for accessing support.

  • The family would only be considered to have maintained a successful outcome if school attendance improves for 3 consecutive terms.

What difference will this approach make?

Focus Family is a way of working that aims to improve families' experience when they need additional help. A benefit of this is that it will support service reform through reduced duplication of services, reduced demand on and re-referrals to acute services. Many of the families identified as meeting Focus Family criteria have intergenerational, complex issues with agencies involved at an individual level. It is important for families to receive a holistic support package and to ensure this is the case it is expected this work will be joined up as a Team around the Family (TAF).

The Focus Family ethos is outlined in the Family Outcome Plan Guidance (185.76 kb PDF)

Research has shown that families most likely to benefit from co-ordinated support have multiple challenges such as unemployment, domestic abuse, involved with crime and poor health. The school attendance problems may be exacerbated by the presence of these factors.

If you recognise your own family as meeting any of the criteria below, or you are working with a family who meet criteria, please read the information to guide you through the process section for more advice.

If you would like to know more about the Focus Family work please go to the About Focus Family 

If you would like more support please see the provided range of useful websites.

Theme 2: Children Who Have Not Been Attending School Regularly
Identified IssuesSignificant Progress (outcome measure)Sustained Progress (outcome measure)

In the last 12 months, a child or young person is:

  • not attending school regularly

  • has a fixed term exclusion

  • has a permanent exclusion

Attendance is improved to at least 90% of possible sessions

No permanent exclusions

No more than 2 fixed term exclusions or, if less than 3 on entry, no fixed term exclusions

 Over the last 3 consecutive terms
In the last 12 months, a child or young person is in alternative educational provision for children with behavioural problems
A child who is neither registered with a school, or being educated in an alternative setting
A child nominated by education professionals as having school attendance problems of equivalent concern to the indicators above because he/she is not receiving a suitable full-time education

This family had a parent with chronic long term mental health problems which caused them to be hospitalised at times and 3 children. The middle child was experiencing the most difficulties re school attendance, behaviour and ongoing mental health issues. She had problems sustaining friendships and has an enmeshed relationship with her parent. Neither of the parents work and there has been anti-social behaviour from the middle child that has resulted in the police being called out.

An important outcome of this work was for the middle child to be back in school full time. In order for this to happen the following needs were identified:

Mother to be supported by adult mental health and by a trained volunteer.

Reduce anti-social behaviour and police call outs.

Steps towards education, voluntary work for parents. 

Improve relationships between children.

The concerns were:

The impact of the parent's mental health issues upon the children.

The challenging relationship between parent and middle child and the impact this had upon her behaviour and school attendance.

The effect of the middle child on the younger child.

The ability of both parents to work together.

This family had a large number of agencies and services involved. The key worker was a social worker who ensured a whole family assessment was in place and regular review meetings held. These were attended by staff from two schools, the parent's adult mental health worker and voluntary agencies involved with middle child. Parents were supported to improve the parents' ability to work together in parenting the children and sticking to boundaries.

Successes were:

The involvement of the family, particularly the parent with mental health issues, in participating in organised get-togethers and events. This parent also has a volunteer who supports them when needed and has not been hospitalised since working within this way.

Decrease in middle childs attempts to self harm.

Good working together between school and other agencies.

There continued to be regular review meetings with the team around the family to help maintain these improvements. The parent with mental health issues was encouraged to attend events along with other parents and to build on the support provided by a volunteer. Therapeutic support was provided for the middle child and continued working together of the agencies is helping to address the school attendance issues.