Our Support for Families – Introducing FASST

Shared Aims

Our most important partnership is the one we have with parents and families who we see as an extension of our school community.  We believe that engagement and achievement in education starts with the relationship between school staff, young people and their families. 

We value the unique insight that parents can provide into their children’s lives, their previous experiences in school and their hopes going forward. 

We understand that being a parent can be both the most difficult job in the world and the most rewarding one. 

As a school we also recognise that it can be a particularly difficult journey when faced with raising a child with additional needs be that dyslexia, ADHD, Autism or the understanding your child is different from most, even if you don’t have a diagnosis / label.

It is through communication and mutual support that we can create the best foundation for:

  • attending school everyday
  • staying safe and well as a teenager – and staying safe and well as a mum or dad to a teenager!
  • developing skills in our young people to cope with the demands of the school setting – and looking forwards, future settings such as college and the workplace 
  • helping parents/carers make sure the home environment is a happy one for all – that the struggles we all face within families do not escalate into serious or drawn out conflicts

In turn, the above creates the conditions for our young people to achieve in their subjects at school and open up opportunities for future success either back in mainstream school or as they move to post-16.

How We Support

Across our college, we have a Family and Student Support Team (‘FASST’ for short) who are here to provide extra support to young people and families through times of challenge. Their big focus is attendance (see ‘Our Approach to Attendance‘ for further info) but they also cover a wider range of well-being issues.

The leader of this team is Mrs Marshall, Director of Care and Personal Development. Mrs Marshall is a qualified teacher with a long, varied experience in inclusion, SEND and family support.

The team also has three Designated Mental Health Leads (DMHLs):

  • Mrs Holt (KS4 Main)
  • Mrs Hibbert (KS3 Extension)
  • Mrs Devine-Hayes (Offsite Provisions)

Each of our DMHLs oversee the work around family support for a section of the school. They have many years of experience of working with children and families which means they work in the calmest, most non-judgemental ways and are able to problem-solve alongside parents/carers to achieve their family’s goals. 

In turn, we have a number of Attendance and Outreach Mentors who – following a referral into the team – will be introduced to young people and their families as their key support person on family issues. Again, they have significant expertise and have been recruited for their high levels of compassion and empathy.

Additionally, we also have a number of teachers linked with the team who assist on specific matters. This includes Mrs Wareham and Mrs Davies who are our designated teachers for Children in Care / Looked After Children. This also includes the teachers and personal development tutors within our Stockport Young Futures provision who work with young people and their families at the point of referral into Highfields College.

Our support can include:

  • working on plans around specific issues such as attendance, family conflict, returns to mainstream, teenage years issues such as smoking, sexual identity etc.
  • providing information and signposting to other services in the local area
  • liaising with a range of external services such as Social Care
  • directing interventions to families at the earliest point of identified need
  • assistance in completing paperwork and forms e.g. housing, special educational needs, school places and benefits
  • advice and support in promoting positive behaviour at home
  • signposting to advice on making important decisions about their child’s future 
  • accompanying parents/carers to meetings and appointments

The above work is usually carried out through processes such as Team Around the Child / Family, PEP, Education Planning Meetings and in some circumstances through Child Protection. 

However, our support is not just about ‘turning up to the meetings’, FASST are always on hand to support families in whichever way is most useful to them – being a listening ear and talking through issues on the phone, informally in person or within your own home. Advice and support is confidential although concerns relating to the safeguarding of children will always be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.  

Our support also involves working directly with young people in the school setting. By closely communicating with parents/carers on the issues faced, we can then shape the conversations we have with the young person in school and, if need be, set up further mentoring and counselling sessions. This can be around longer-term issues such as bereavement, family break up, identity but it can also be us working with parents/carers on ‘what happened this weekend just gone’.

Get In Touch

Any parent/carer can request support by contacting reception – 0161 406 7922 – and asking to speak with the Designated Mental Health Lead for their part of the school or by asking directly for Mrs Marshall. They might not be immediately available but will always look to ring back the same day.