About the Families First for Schools
Families First for schools was developed in partnership with the National Association of Family Information Services (NAFIS), Family and Childcare Trust and Suffolk County Council. It is suitable for:
- primary schools
- free schools
- maintained schools
- independent schools
- special schools
- pupil referral units (PRUs)
The Families First Award is a set of standards designed to help schools:
- demonstrate how they keep families at the heart of their practice
- support children throughout their education by helping parents to engage with their child’s learning
- work with a range of partners including local authority Family Information Services to help families access information, advice and support
- improve their practice in working with families through a robust self-evaluation process and quality improvement programme
- demonstrate to Ofsted and families their commitment to valuing parents in the way the school is lead and managed
Additional, SEND Standards help schools demonstrate how they are meeting the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice 2014.
Suffolk schools can see an overview of the standards and find out more here: www.suffolklearning.co.uk/familiesfirst
Families First Community
Since 2014, when the award was launched in Suffolk schools, schools in Sheffield, Luton, Essex, London and Bedford are also seeking accreditation. Suffolk schools already awarded include; Chilton Community Primary School, Barrow CEVC Primary School, Castle Hill Junior and Castle Hill Infant School, Somerleyton Primary School and the Albany Pupil Referral Unit.
The Families First Quality Award community consists of accredited schools, children’s centres and local authority Family Information Services. So it is possible to link with schools in Suffolk or elsewhere to share good practice.
Accreditation for your school
The award is a competence-based assessment carried out by a qualified Families First Assessor. An assessor works with the school, its staff and families to identify evidence that demonstrates competence against the standards, and to identify what is working well and areas for improvement.
Accreditation lasts for three years, at which point schools be re-accredited if they wish. To find out more about the Families First Quality Award and the cost of accreditation, please visit the Family and Childcare Trust website.
What do accredited schools say about the award?
"I would thoroughly recommend Families First as a way to pinpoint and evaluate your current offer to parents. I have found it to be a rewarding process which enables you to improve areas highlighted and bring about change."
Mrs L Spall Headteacher Somerleyton Primary School Lowestoft
"We have just completed the Families First Award and I just wanted to get in touch to recommend it [to other Pupil Referral Units]. It has been a very positive way to celebrate the amazing work we do to support families, as I know you all do too. The online portfolio has been very easy to use and evidence, the support from [our assessor] Tim has been great and the whole process really hasn't taken much time.
"The impact of completing the programme has been excellent as we have been able to use it as evidence in our SEF [self-evaluation form] and for OFSTED and taking part has enabled us to reflect on how we work with families and external agencies and continue to improve the support we offer."
Kirstie Land Deputy Head Teacher the Albany Pupil Referral Unit
"The impact of achieving the Families First award at Barrow School has been recognised by the continued support of our families. Our families feel they have been recognised and valued for the important job they do with their children. The school has been recognised for supporting families and involving them in the work we do.
"The award has boosted their confidence in the school and confirmed to them that they are an important part of the education process. This will have a lasting effect on their children as being more involved in the school and knowing ‘what we do’ and ‘how we do it’ helps families to continue that learning out of school, thereby raising their children’s attainment."
Lynda Corley (Parent Support Co-ordinator Barrow School