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Education family conferences are 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.
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 school
- the Social Worker, Truancy, Student Support Services
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
- 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 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.
The independent coordinator will help work out what your family needs to help the meeting to be a success.
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.
If you or your child have a disability, the coordinator will speak with you about any support you might need.
The meeting is about everyone supporting your family to help improve your child’s attendance at school. The meeting has several parts.
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.
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 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.
Developing your plan
Once you have some ideas about what will support your child to attend school, the other participants will have an opportunity to contribute to the proposed plan. 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.
Once everyone is agreed, everyone at the meeting will sign a copy of the plan. You will get a copy.
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
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