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A Day in the Life of an Education Welfare Officer
When I tell people that I am an Education Welfare Officer working for WPA Education Welfare Services many ask what I actually do!
So what does an Education Welfare Officer do? What sort of people are we? What is our working day like? And how do we support schools?
My role as an EWO is incredibly rewarding, at times can be emotionally demanding and often puts my “people skills” to the test. I need to be assertive at times, keep a good sense of humour and never be judgemental - a high level of stamina is definitely needed to get me through the day. But the rewards of helping to make a difference to a young person’s life make it all worthwhile.
Our main aim is to make a difference to the lives of children and young people by breaking down barriers to them attending school regularly and arriving on time. Success at school isn’t only about what goes on inside the classroom it’s also about ensuring that children are happy, confident, settled and attending school so they can fulfill their potential. And that’s where education welfare support comes in.
At WPA all Education Welfare Officers are school-based; working alongside attendance staff, identifying pupils who have attendance concerns and working with parents to ensure that their child attends school regularly. The safeguarding of the pupils is paramount to us and we help schools fulfill their statutory duties by carrying out home visits to follow up on concerns. We also work closely with senior staff in schools, supporting them with strategies to raise the profile and promote good attendance, and with bridging the gap in the attendance of some of the most vulnerable groups of pupils. This support can help to take the pressure off the shoulders of the senior leadership team!
So how do we do this? There are many different aspects to our work and the one thing that can be said is that every day is different! Let me tell you how one of my days may pan out….
I arrive at school at about 8.00am and the first thing I want to know is whether there are any immediate concerns since my visit the previous week – such as any children who have not been attending school. If there are, I may need to fit in a home visit to see if I can speak to the family.
I already have several meetings in my diary with parents which I had arranged during my previous visit to the school. Being able to meet with parents at the first sign of any concern is really important to me so we can identify at an early stage if there are any reasons for their child not attending school regularly. And we can look at what support may be needed to enable this to happen. At our meetings we will agree some targets to help achieve improved attendance so the children are able to engage with their learning. I may need to liaise with other agencies, such as CAMHs or social care, in order to support the family further. This may include attending Child Protection meetings so I can share with other professionals the work I have been doing with the family.
In secondary schools, I may meet with groups of students to talk to them about the importance of being in school regularly and arriving on time. In primary schools, our attendance and punctuality mascots can visit the school and tell children about the importance of being in school in a fun and informative way.
Regular communication with the key school staff – Attendance Officers, SENCos, Designated Safeguarding Leads, SLT and Governors - is an important part of my role, working in partnership with the school to ensure that every child is able to access their learning. And like every job, there is the need to keep accurate records so I do have to ensure that I find time in my day to fit in all the paperwork!!
Although my day in school will normally end around 4 pm there are times when this doesn’t happen. I may need to do home visits and meet parents after this time and on occasions, there is also some evening work to support schools at events such as parents’ evenings.
As you can see, my day is varied - hopefully, I have given you a flavour of what I do.
If you think we can support your school and your families then please be sure to get in touch with us.