Family and Multi-Family Group work put in focus at Schools in Mind Network event

28th March 2017 By: Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

Last Thursday the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families’ free Schools in Mind network hosted a breakfast briefing at the Freud Museum.

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The briefing focused on working with families and multi-family groups in school settings and brought together over 50 Network members for a morning of talks from experts in the delivery of and research into multi-family work.

Brenda McHugh, Co-Director of Mental Health in Schools and Neil Dawson from the Centre opened the briefing. They talked about their work at the alternative provision Family School and launched their unique Multi Family Groups in schools microsite. This is an exciting new tool which provides online training and support on how to set up such groups in school settings.

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The audience were taken through a preview of this online training which combines case studies from existent multi-family work at the Family School, expert comment, and guided tips and exercises for participants to take away and implement. Brenda and Neil commented:

'The online programme is packed with detailed film illustrations of how a family group is run. This was made possible by families agreeing to be filmed so that other children and parents could benefit from the kind of help that they had received. This is the essence of multi-family groups, families are inspired by each other, living proof that change is possible.'

Michael Annan, Senior Education Psychologist at the Hackney Learning Trust echoed this, sharing his experience of Hackney based multi-family group work. Discussions continued with Anoushka Khan and Chryssa Chalkidou from the Centre’s Schools Outreach team offering an insight into their work engaging parents and carers in schools across Brent.

Their work falls under the Brent Inclusion Support team providing outreach clinical services to schools and families. They illustrated their work with a case example and shared 3 key points for effective working in schools:

  • Keeping the school focused on the child’s experience and the meaning of the behaviours, alongside the school’s concerns
  • Clear processes to setting up the piece of work
  • Being aware of barriers to making sense of the child’s emotional world and establishing a shared language to work towards common goals

Attendees also had the chance to network, share ideas, and map ways forward in prioritising working with families and multi-family groups in schools. One attendee said: 'The most useful thing for me was hearing about the groups and recognizing that we already do a lot of what we talked about. It was helpful hearing how much time was spent on getting the school on board. This is something we can improve on.'

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This was the sixth free event held by the Schools in Mind Network, which has been set up by the Anna Freud National Centre to help school professionals in finding, evaluating and implementing solutions that promote the mental health and wellbeing of entire school communities. For more information about the Schools in Mind network, upcoming events and to join, please visit: http://www.annafreud.org/services-schools/schools-in-mind/

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