“Working with Edurio has helped us harness the power of national benchmarking”
The Family Liasion team at SHINE Academies are extremely highly regarded within their local communities and external networks.
Together, they have built better futures for hundreds of families.
To learn more about this incredible work, Ernest Jenavs, co-founder and CEO of Edurio, sat down with Gemma Draycott, CEO, and Suki Baran, Director of Family Services at SHINE Academies.
Gemma and Suki spoke about the work they’re doing to integrate Family Services in their MAT and highlight good practices so we can learn as a community from each other.
Watch the videos and read our main takeaways below.
Our work on Family Services has been a huge focus over the last few years, and it’s something we’re so proud of and looking to push further and further. We recognised the need for increased family support during the Covid lockdown and responded by investing resources in our Family Services team, which grew from 6 to 11 people.
The team was tasked with providing additional support to families, including setting up food and clothing banks, and each team is integrated within our MAT schools staff and leadership. The trust has seen a demand for this type of support not just locally but also nationally and we’ve started to offer training to other schools to help address the issue.
The support offered to families and schools has also had a clear, positive impact on the emotional well-being of head teachers and allows them to focus on teaching and learning strategies.
Whilst the increased focus started as a response to the pandemic, we are not scaling back, but rather increasing our efforts. We believe wholeheartedly in the importance of educating parents and helping them understand the importance of their child's development and learning. We are reaching out to families and providing home support, becoming a frontline access point for families in need of structured support.
Our aim is to empower families to work and develop in a way that fits their household needs, as every family is unique in what they require. Our services are there to offer support, but we always start by understanding what the family needs from us and how we can support them as an individual family unit.
Over time we have built a dedicated team focussed on this work, as we felt it was important that these were not extra responsibilities for colleagues that could come into conflict with other parts of their role. The team is structured with Family Support Officers leading the frontline work in schools, delivering assessments, interventions and liaising with external providers. Family Support Officers work with the parents and children and a variety of external services, leading assessments. Intervention Workers provide targeted support for children as part of early intervention and assessment findings. This can be delivered within a group, one-to-one or in the home with families. The service also works directly with parents. Each member of the team has vast experience, and individuals have specialisms in areas such as trauma-informed, behaviour de-escalation, domestic abuse, contextual safeguarding, Mental Health and Well Being and Exploitation.
We also have qualified social workers on the team who work within the schools, as well as counselling students and social work students from local universities. We offer practical support and educate the students by giving them a practical insight and a quality work experience that includes reflective practice whilst the university focuses on theoretical learning. We aim to give the students a better understanding towards what our schools offer children and families as part of education.
Generally, we work with families by first utilising our own skills to meet their needs, we then assess any gaps and find the right partnerships to offer further targeted support. For example, we work closely with Early Help services, Social Care, Health, and charitable organisations. We focus on creating and further developing our service by including theory-based and reflective practice within the team. The theory supports professional delivery, especially when working in partnership with external organisations by sharing the evidence-based areas captured relating to the child or family. Partnerships working is evidenced when working with external services to reach a positive outcome for the child and family.
As part of the wider programme of work on Family Services, we developed the Family Outcome Framework. The framework outlines all the areas of work we offer, ensuring we are providing the best outcomes for our children, especially in terms of education. By reviewing the areas, we were able to identify gaps and areas for improvement. The framework was launched as a project in support of celebrating our professional achievements. This has been well received within the team and noted to be a great opportunity to share our good practice and support.
The impact that we aim to have extends beyond the 1800 children currently within our trust and reaches many more in the community. Since we made Family Services a key focus, we have developed:
While the Family Services focus is just one aspect of our work, it is a crucial part of what we do and shows our commitment to families. Our work is complex, especially since the pandemic, and we provide support at a high level across all schools in the trust, not just through our family support service. This support includes one-to-one interactions, supervision, and reflective practices that bring the team together across all schools in the trust. It is important for us to ensure that we are taking care of each other, which is highly evident in our practices.
It’s important to emphasise that our success in this area would not have been possible without the support of our stakeholders. Our team of trustees strongly believe in the development of this area and prioritises making children's lives better, beyond simply following the guidelines set by the white paper for growth and expanding the Academy trust. Having this moral purpose is crucial to our trust and it is not just about financial growth or the expansion of our trust, but rather about improving the experiences of children at school, their families, and the communities.
My story is not a typical one for a CEO within a multi-academy trust. Prior to 2014, I had a background in recruitment and change management. I joined Northwood Park Primary School as a business manager when it was still a maintained school, with the intention of leading the conversion process.
However, I quickly became passionate about education and the impact we could make on communities. Over time, I grew with the trust and eventually became the CEO in 2022. I am grateful for the opportunities given to me by our trustees and my predecessor to broaden my leadership skills and understand what it means to lead a trust. Now, I am proud to be the leader of SHINE Academies and to work with a team of dedicated professionals who share the same work ethic and passion.
Our commitment to making a difference in the lives of pupils and their families is reflected in all of our schools. We currently impact around 1800 pupils, and I hope that with the team we have, we can make a difference to many more in the future.
I joined Northwood Park Primary School in 2015, and my journey started as Family Support within the school. My background is in family support, and from the onset, my focus was working with children and families in terms of supporting their transition into the classroom.
It is crucial to ensure that children have a sense of belonging and confidence to drive their learning. That was the basis of the work that started at Northwood Park Primary. Thankfully, it grew into a much bigger resource and was acknowledged across the school, by the management team.
This recognition led to the further growth and development of my role, and that's where my role fantastically expanded. I was tasked with developing a Family Support team on the site of our school. We now successfully have a frontline and strategic delivery of family support services, aimed at giving every child the best opportunity to access the education they deserve to thrive as individuals.
SHINE Academy started its life as a single academy trust, Northwood Park Primary School. We became a SAT in January 2015 with the intention of growing by sponsoring schools. We sponsored our first Ofsted-rated Inadequate primary school, Lodge Farm in Walsall, in April 2016 and successfully achieved a good Ofsted rating for the school in 2018.
From there, we went on to support a Good school in Wolverhampton and another Inadequate school in 2019. We have learned a lot of lessons along the way and are now ready to grow, and as we do so we are determined to keep our focus on our moral purpose: providing a good start for children, and our wider responsibilities in the form of Family Services.
We changed our name to SHINE Academies in 2018, to better reflect our values and ethos, and ensure that all schools within the group felt equally important. The name SHINE Academies was developed by all of our stakeholders, and we felt that driving harmony to inspire, nurture, and excel, actually portrays everything that we try to do as a trust in terms of maintaining those high standards and high expectations.
The change was managed in a way that everyone understood was for the greater good, and it was seen as positive for all schools involved. Each of our schools retains its own identity, with its own uniform and logo, but policies and procedures are standardised within the context of each school. The trust has a strong ethos, identity and values and this is seen in all its schools. We have a flexible approach, with the ability to recognise when policies may not work and to tweak them if necessary.
Since we took on Lodge Farm in 2016 we’ve grown to a small and mighty trust that operates across borders: all our schools are currently within 20 minutes drive of each other, across two local authorities and we are in a position to extend this to create hubs in other areas.
We have capacity in all our schools to give back to communities and local schools, and as we’ve grown we’ve ensured we take on schools that need support as well as schools that can add to our school improvement capacity.
Our staff members are hugely talented and those skills can be shared across schools, ensuring that proper attention is given to the areas that need improvement. We have now created leadership development programs to provide impactful CPD within the trust and beyond. We have high expectations and standards for all our stakeholders and are always striving for outstanding practice in our schools, as well as providing plenty of CPD opportunities to our staff to help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to grow.
We are on a big journey and ready for growth.
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