Spotlight On: A life-transforming partnership with The School & Family Works
Mark Turner and Caroline Hulme-Mckibbin, of King’s House School and Kensington Prep School respectively, describe how they have been working in partnership with The School & Family Works to support families whose children are struggling at school.
King’s House is an independent school for children aged 3 to 13 in Richmond, South West London. Like many schools, we set up a bursary fund around 10 to 12 years ago but found that over the years it was difficult to identify suitable candidates who would be willing to travel from outside their normal catchment, and this made socialising harder for them. We, therefore, started to review our community support work. We were looking for ways to impact a wider range of pupils and those most in need, and enhance children’s educational experience in the broadest way possible. Fortuitously, at that time we were put in touch with The School & Family Works (SFW), a social enterprise led by Mark Griffiths.
Working with each school directly, SFW utilises an evidence-based multi-family therapy model to create a Family Group (FG) community of up to eight families whose children are struggling at school, because they are unable or unwilling to engage with the services that the school offers. In almost all cases, the children come from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds and many of their families have experience of some trauma, poverty, mental or physical health issues, domestic violence, addiction, or involvement with the criminal justice system. These under-resourced families also struggle with systemic challenges, such as cuts to early intervention or community support services, long waiting lists for mental health services, racism, and inadequate housing provision.
We were impressed with Mark Griffiths’ inspirational approach and the impact the work was having on the local community, and so have been supporting a Family Group since 2017. One of our governors has been to visit a FG in one of the partner schools and was extremely impressed by the work they’re doing. It is a two-way partnership and the relationship has developed over the years, with SFW providing training for King’s House staff on pupil behaviour and communication skills to benefit our pupils. More recently, SFW has developed links between King’s House and a local primary school that is part of the SFW network, and we support them with their pastoral set-up and an apprenticeship scheme.
The financial contribution we make to SFW is also able to impact the outcomes of a wider number of pupils and their families than is possible through bursaries. As a local prep school, we don’t have the same resources to support bursary recruitment as many of the larger senior schools do. Partnering with SFW provides an alternative way for independent schools to reach out and support the most vulnerable in their communities, and we are so pleased to be supporting the work they do.
Mark Turner, head at King’s House Prep
In today's fast-paced world, the importance of a supportive and nurturing environment for children cannot be overstated. In recognising this, Kensington Prep has taken a proactive approach to support the vital work of The School & Family Works (SFW), an organisation dedicated to providing therapeutic care for families. By collaborating with SFW to support Family Group, Ken Prep School aims to enhance educational and life outcomes for young people beyond our walls by supporting a holistic approach that addresses the emotional wellbeing of the entire family unit.
SFW specialises in providing therapeutic interventions for families facing significant challenges. Their expertise lies in addressing emotional and behavioural issues that may hinder a child's educational progress. By working closely with families in Family Group, SFW aims to create a supportive environment that nurtures positive relationships and empowers parents to actively participate in their child's educational journey.
SFW’s therapeutic approach focuses not only on the child but also on empowering parents and carers to address unresolved issues from their own early experience that are impacting the support they are able to offer. Each FG community meets weekly in school time for a structured session led by an experienced therapist, supported by a senior member of the school’s staff. All sessions are planned in accordance with the organisation’s Theory of Change and are designed to increase the confidence and skills of all community members. Over time, significant positive outcomes are delivered in terms of enhanced wellbeing (parents and children), better behaviour (children), improved attainment (children), and more cohesive families.
The collaboration between Ken Prep School and Family Group has a long-lasting impact on the educational and life outcomes of young people. By addressing emotional and behavioural challenges early on, students are better equipped to overcome obstacles and reach their potential. The partnership has been reciprocal, with Family Group facilitators providing training to Ken Prep staff. Their expertise in early intervention; identification of learning and emotional needs; and their skills in managing conflict, loss, and trauma are relevant to families and children in all settings.
Ken Prep School's partnership with SFW to provide Family Group in local primary schools exemplifies its commitment to providing a comprehensive and supportive educational experience for young people beyond our own setting. Through this collaboration, Ken Prep School enables Family Group to empower families, creating a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond the classroom, ultimately leading to improved educational and life outcomes for all involved.
Caroline Hulme-Mckibbin, head at Kensington Prep School
If you would like to get involved in a Family Group partnership, please email Mark Griffiths at email@example.com