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Education family conferences – support for students who do not attend school regularly

Education family conferences is a service that supports families of students who do not attend school regularly.

Your family needs to be referred into the service by the Department for Education, Social Worker – Truancy. The Social Worker – Truancy will already be working with you and your child’s school to support school attendance.

If you have been referred into the service, the Social Worker – Truancy can share a link to a short video about Education Family Conferences and how they work.

An education family conference is a strengths based family-led planning meeting that is run by an independent coordinator.  The independent coordinators are provided by the Courts Administration Authority, Conferencing Unit.

An education family conference is a way of bringing together:

  • family members
  • the student
  • the school
  • the Social Worker – Truancy, Student Support Services
  • a child advocate
  • cultural supports (if relevant)
  • professionals and services involved with your family
  • other supports

The meeting is an opportunity for you to share your own ideas about improving your child’s school attendance, in a confidential and positive way. It recognises your family as the expert in understanding your situation. The meeting may be in relation to one or more children in your family.


Aims of the meeting

The aims of the meeting are to help you:

  • make a plan to help you get your child to school regularly
  • make sure you have the support you need to get your child to school
  • build on your family’s strengths.

A written plan is developed at the meeting and includes all of the decisions made by your family to support your child to attend school.


Is it voluntary?

Yes.

These meetings are voluntary. If you do not wish to take part, or change your mind, let the Social Worker – Truancy or the independent coordinator know. The Social Worker – Truancy will still work with you to support your child to go to school. If their attendance does not improve they will look at other options that are available. You must remember that it is your legal responsibility to make sure your child attends school.

Who attends the meeting

You will attend the meeting with your child (if it is age appropriate for them to be there). There will be a range of other people at the meeting to help support your family to develop your plan to get your child attending school including:

Independent coordinator

The independent coordinator’s role is to run the meeting.

Before the meeting happens, the independent coordinator will contact you to work out your family’s needs for the meeting. This may be by phone or in person.

They will:

  • help you work out who you would like to attend the meeting
  • choose a time and location
  • organise the meeting and make sure everyone can attend.

At the meeting the coordinator will:

  • make sure everyone has the chance to speak
  • ensure everyone participates safely
  • enable discussion
  • support you and other participants to make decisions

The coordinator is there to support everyone at the meeting to help develop your plan. They do not make the decisions for you.

Support for your child

Your child will have a support person to help them to be involved in the meeting and make sure that they are able to have their opinion heard.  You can either choose a trained child advocate which the independent coordinator will arrange for your child or you can identify someone your child knows and feels comfortable with. 

Other support people

The coordinator will talk to you about who are the best support people to attend. This may be family, friends or other services you are already working with.

Education and other support professionals

The Social Worker – Truancy will attend the meeting, along with someone from your child’s school.

The coordinator can organise for professionals from other services to attend if you would like them to participate.


Setting up the meeting

The independent coordinator will help work out what your family needs, to help the meeting to be a success.

Location

The meeting can be held at a location that will support your family taking part, other than a private home. This might be at school, in a park, at a library or other location. The independent coordinator can give you ideas of where the meeting could be held.

Language and cultural needs

The coordinator will check if there are any cultural or language considerations that will support your participation. This might include a specific support person, organising a translator or holding the meeting in a specific service or location that is culturally significant for your family.

Disability needs

If you or your child have a disability, the coordinator will speak with you about any support you might need.


What happens at the meeting

The meeting is about everyone supporting your family to help improve your child’s attendance at school. The meeting has several parts.

Sharing information

Everyone invited attends the first part of the meeting.

Everyone will introduce themselves and their role at the meeting.

You, the Social Worker – Truancy and the school representative will have an opportunity to talk about what is currently working well and what is getting in the way of your child going to school.

Your child will also get the chance to talk, or the child advocate will speak on your child’s behalf.

Everyone then talks about what support they can provide to your family.

Family time – developing your plan

After the information sharing part, there is an opportunity for your family to talk in private. You may wish to have your support people stay for this part as well.

This is a chance for your family to discuss what you think will help your child to go to school, and come up with a plan.

You can ask any of the invited people for ideas to add to this plan.

Agreeing to the plan

After family time, once you have some ideas about what will support your child to attend school, the coordinator brings the meeting back together.  Either you or the coordinator will talk your plan through and the other participants will have an opportunity to contribute to the proposed plan. This is a decision-making process where everyone is working together.  Once everyone agrees on the plan, the coordinator will write the plan up.

The final plan will include:

  • what can be done
  • who can help
  • when it will happen.

A date will also be set to review the plan.

Everyone at the meeting will sign the plan. You will get a copy.


Review meeting

The review meeting will usually happen around 8 weeks after the first meeting. The same people will be invited to attend.

At this meeting you can:

  • let everyone know how your child is going with attending school
  • talk about your successes and any challenges
  • discuss what other support you need.


More information

If you have any questions, you can contact your Social Worker, Truancy who can give you more information.

Education family conferences

Email: Education.EducationFamilyConferences [at] sa.gov.au