TACKLING the extra challenges and disadvantages faced by homeless children at school is the thrust behind a new online resource aimed at education professionals.
The website, www.homelesschildren.org.uk, launched by Shelter Scotland, represents the culmination of the three-year Big Lottery funded Keys to the Future pilot programme.
The site provides expert guidance and advice for education professionals on measures they can take to mitigate the impact of homelessness on a child’s schooldays.
www.homelesschildren.org.uk seeks to close the ‘communication gap’ between schools and housing and homelessness services – a gap which often means teachers are unaware of the circumstances affecting a child’s attendance, performance and behaviour at school.
Being homeless is known to be potentially detrimental to a child’s education and can lead to other long-term psychologically damaging experiences such as being bullied.
Jessie Crawford, Children’s Service Policy and Practice Coordinator at Shelter Scotland, explains the background and importance of the web site.
She says: “Homeless children are entitled to support to help them learn and enjoy school. While some schools provide this, there are many children across Scotland who are missing out. The consequences can last a lifetime.
“By making simple small changes in their approach the education sector can make a lasting and positive difference to homeless children’s lives and life chances. This will reap real benefits for homeless children, schools and the wider community.
“By visiting www.homelesschildren.org.uk education professionals will find expert guidance on what measures they can take to assist homeless children with their learning. It provides the information, tools and resources they need to deliver a service that will support homeless children to learn and enjoy school.”
Karen Carter, head teacher at Lockerbie Primary School, says: “Schools have a legal obligation to identify, assess and support children with additional needs – homelessness is one of those needs.
“This new online resource is a fitting and very useful legacy to the Keys to the Future and the tips it contains for schools and teachers will prove invaluable in helping homeless children get the best out of their schooldays.”
The site includes information on:
- What is homelessness
- Impact of homelessness on children
- How does supporting homeless children fit with education policy
- A checklist of actions schools can take to support homeless children
- What can schools do to help:
- Offer practical support such as help with travel to and from school, homework support, help school uniform and materials and accessing technology
- Offer continuity and security – keep children in their current school and support children who have to move schools
- Liaise with other agencies and parents – initiate interagency working and work with parents
Notes to Editors:
1. Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity. Shelter Scotland believes that everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
2. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
3. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk
4. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
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Contact: Neil Baldwin
Phone: 0844 515 2442