Kate Breeze: Engaging Families through Residential Programmes

University of Cumbria Featured Image 150pxThe last twenty years in the UK have seen a range of policy driven initiatives focusing on families including therapeutic models, evidence based parenting programmes and 24/7 multi-systemic support.

Kate Breeze posterThe discourse of families has focussed on dysfunction and family as the location of a range of social issues from young peoples’ anti-social behaviour, to neighbourhood nuisance, addiction and school truanting. It is a heavily deficit model  as demonstrated in  the government’s recent ‘Troubled Families’ scheme (Communities and Local Government, 2012)’ and tempered by the  ‘Forgotten Families’ initiative, identified following last summer’s riots (Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, 2012).

I am in the early part of a PhD study exploring the contribution informal education approaches can offer to work with families particularly through residential experiences.  I am working with three organisations within the study, each having contrasting contexts and experience.  This poster will focus on one of these organisations, a federation of schools who have used an external funding opportunity to develop a residential programme for families of children and young people who are struggling or disengaging with school.  The programme has been running for over two years and a collection of data already exists which contributes to the quantitative evaluation of the impact of this work in terms of attendance and achievement of the children and young people involved.   However, the original funders, and indeed the leadership of the federation of schools, are also keen to explore how this approach has fostered engagement, cohesion and a sense of belonging, not just in school but within the wider community. This illuminates questions such as:  What has the impact been on the families taking part in these residential experiences?  Has there been any tangible impact on the life of their community?  Can programmes such as these contribute to wider strategies to address social and economic exclusion? How can an asset model of work with families contribute to the building of personal, social and economic resilience? (Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, 2012).

This poster will suggest early identification of possible methods and measures which may provide both insight into peoples’ experience, as well as tangible evidence of impact which can contribute to credible presentation of practice-based evidence.

Communities and Local Government (2012). Troubled Families: Top 10 areas are on board as Government is ready to go [online]http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2118077. Accessed 29.5.12
The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel (2012) After the riots: the final report of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel. [online] http://riotspanel.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Riots-Panel-Final-Report1.pdf. Accessed 29.5.12