Resilience sessions trialed in bid to boost school attendance after the pandemic

Westmorland and Furness Council’s Virtual School, in partnership with Family Action, have been trialing specialist mental health sessions for children struggling in school following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of children absent from school has increased since the pandemic according to a report by the cross-party Education Select Committee.

The council decided to act after discussions with social workers and schools suggested children and young people were struggling with school since the outbreak of the virus. Family Action were appointed to deliver the sessions, based on the concept to develop an intervention which would help young people develop resilience.

The small group sessions were funded using £30k from a larger grant provided by the Department for Education.

Six schools (Furness Academy, Central Academy, Morton Academy, Netherhall Academy Ullswater Community College, and Trinity College) were part of the trial and most reported starting to see some positive results, with the trial now being fine-tuned before the next phase begins.

The council has received assurances that the grant will continue for a further two years which would allow the project to continue, however, they feel the impact of the pandemic on school attendance will be felt for longer.

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “Attending school is so important for the prospects of our children and young people and as a council we’re committed to helping them get back into school after a traumatic time during COVID-19.

“Initial results have shown that if we’re serious about getting attendance levels back up to where they were before the pandemic, programmes like ours need a long-term commitment of funding – as this problem will not be solved overnight.”

Milorad Vasic, Director of Children’s Services at Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “Education will sit at the heart of our ambitious plan to improve outcomes for children and young people in our area.

“Solving the issue of school attendance brought on by the pandemic is a key priority for our council. This initiative has been providing additional support to children with low attendance and it’s critical that we continue to support children and young people with their learning and improving the opportunities they have as they progress through life.”

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