Education: Standards

Department for Education written question – answered at on 14 May 2024.

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Photo of Lord Hampton Lord Hampton Crossbench

To ask His Majesty's Government, given the findings by Action for Children in its report, Above and Beyond: How teachers fill gaps in the system to keep children learning, that (1) nine children in an average class of 25 face challenges outside of school which hinder their ability to learn, and (2) teachers are struggling to support them and their families, what action they are taking to encourage schools to employ family liaison officers to support struggling families.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

The government recognises the pivotal role teachers and education settings play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of vulnerable children and families.

The department’s 2023 updated statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ confirms that staff working in education settings play an important role in building relationships, identifying concerns and providing direct support to children.

At the last Spending Review, the department announced over £1 billion for programmes to improve early help services from birth to adulthood, including delivering on Family Hubs and helping families facing multiple disadvantages through the Supporting Families Programme and the holiday activities and food programme. Local authorities working with their partners can decide to use this funding to employ family liaison officers or other professionals to support families within education settings.

The department’s ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love: strategy and consultation’, announced plans to build on the strengths of these vital early help services through the implementation of family help. In the Families First for Children Pathfinder, the department is testing how it can increase the role of education in multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and how local areas can provide targeted support to help children and families overcome challenges at the earliest opportunity. The Pathfinder is running in ten local authority areas across two ‘waves’: Dorset, Lincolnshire and Wolverhampton (wave one announced July 2023) and Lewisham, Luton, Redbridge, Walsall, Warrington, Warwickshire and Wirral (wave two announced April 2024).

The department is also making the ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ guidance statutory from September 2024. This sets out how schools, local authorities and other services need to work together to support pupils at risk of poor attendance and ensure support provided to these families is consistent across the country.

The department’s package of wide-ranging reforms designed to support schools to improve attendance means that there were 440,000 fewer children persistently absent or not attending in 2022/23 compared to 2021/22.

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