Torbay has relaunched its advice and mediation service which helps schools and families work together more effectively when there has been a breakdown in communication.

We have appointed a consortium from Torbay CDT, South West Family Values and the ‘Imagine This’ partnership to run the service. The aim of the service is to help families and schools work together and reduce the number of children missing school through poor attendance or suspension.

The service acts as a mediator between parents and the school where communication between the two would benefit from support. Through providing impartial advice to both parties, the service gets children back into school as quickly as possible to prevent further disruption to their education.

The service initially launched in January 2020 at a time when the majority of Torbay pupils were learning from home. During the home learning period, delivery of the service was adapted to ensure that parents had someone to talk to. Parents of 29 children and young people were able to call the service to talk about their concerns regarding attendance once schools were open again. The service was also able to signpost parents to other support services such as SENDIASS Torbay, the Local Authority Home Education Team, the Coronavirus Community Helpline and local food banks.

During the school closure period, 150 Art Packs were delivered to families, as well as running a four-week daily programme of online activities to children that were missing education as a result of the pandemic.

With children and young people now back in school for the new term, the service is back supporting schools and families with its solution focused approach. All with the aim of minimising the number of children missing education and offering more positive outcomes for both schools and families.

Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “We want all of Torbay’s children and young people to have the best start in life, education plays a huge part in that. By ensuring absent children get back into school as quickly as possible we are preventing some of the longer-term risks and impacts that can arise as a result of missed education.”

Alison Cross, who is leading the service said; “There are all sorts of reason why a child may be suspended or be reluctant to attend school. When the relationship breaks down between the school and families, it is important that a solution is found as quickly as possible. We are here to help facilitate a way forward and to finding the best outcome to aid children back into education.”

Families who want to learn more about the service are advised to email or call 01803 446022.

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