Thinking Strategically in Health and Education Practice with Children and Families. Have we got a Missing Model?
The I Matter Framework was drawn together as a response to my professional concern that something pretty serious was missing in child and family practice.
There were so many different approaches that families, and front line practitioners, especially those with the most challenging and complex behaviour often found themselves feeling completely bewildered about what to do and why to help their child.
The I Matter Framework offers a practical easy to share integration of the evidence on what is involved in supporting the healthy development of the child - which decades of research has evidenced fundamentally requires healthy adult-child relationships. . As such the I Matter Framework is relevant to professional thinking and intervention in relation to universal, targeted and specialist care Training in the I Matter Framework can support your own understanding and ability to understand what is not working within the following areas of practice and what needs to happen and why to see some meaningful differences.
i. The Everyday Tracking of Children's Social Emotional Progress. It is very shocking but this is not happening. When children leave Early Years setting routine school practice stops paying attention to whether social emotional milestones are being achieved. Instead, regardless of the child's needs or history, the focus shifts to the tracking of literacy or numeracy only and consequently the focus of teachers attention moves away from the details and subtlety of the acquiaitions of emotional skills and instead sees only the fact that a child is not progressing on those issues being measured. This is particularly serious for our most vulnerable children. We are determined to see this change and we are working with the Kendal ICC hub and schools in our area to develop this thinking
ii. CAMHS THRIVE redesign. Our perspective on the national THRIVE initiative is that THRIVE offers an important view that care for vulnerable children should be delivered within everyday settings rather than being 'referred out' as was often implied by the tiered CAMHS triangle Given the scale of current challenges seen in everyday settings this is important to sstate clearly, however the success of such thinking depends upon universal settings being empowered to understand and take action to address local needs with thinking that upskills professionals who have not typically had specialist training. I Matter Framework Training helps equips frontline practitoners for more confident practice with children who are struggling and their families
iii. Adoption Support Funded Packages Our concern about a lot of post adoption support is that in emphasis it is still poor in integrating home and school thinking. The reality is that to help a child who has experienced complex trauma or neglect, successful care depends upon bringing the adults at home and at school together into some shared perspectives around needs and priorities. I Matter Framework Training provides a structure that helps assist the delivery of complex co-ordinated care packages focussing on the bringing together of perspectives to support home and school based progress
iv Education Health Care Plans. Again our concern about a lot of Education Health Care Planning for children who have challenging behaviour or mental health care planning is that the focus is on school based interventions - too often delivered by front line staff who have very little training and too often with very little attention given to the training and support needs of home based adults. This is not in line with the evidence on what is needed to stabilise and positively impact the wellbeing and progress of the challenging or complex child. I Matter Framework Training provides a structure that helps assist the delivery of complex co-ordinated care packages focussing on home and school based progress
v. Pupil Premium Funding How much of your pupil premium funding goes towards ensuring that front line adults and home based adults are well trained and well equipped to manage and be most effective in their challenging roles? Too much pupil premium funding is used to employ staff who are not given the training that they need. Too little pupil premium funding goes to ensuring that families under very real pressure are equipped with the training and support and accountability that they need to parent effectively and confidently in challenging situations. Failure to come behind stressed families is a massive contributor to challenging behaviour in the classroom. I Matter Framework Training enables your schools and communties to start to develop capacity to deliver informed education and support
vi, Children Looked After Children who are looked after have often experienced significant trauma and/or neglect. They are vulnerable precisely because of the disruption of core relationships and too often schools give lip service to their commitment to meet what are clearly evidenced vulnerabilities in terms of social emotional progress and ability to manage relationships. Failure to ensure whole school training and thinking that gives such children a chance to rebuild trust in adults and in their own ability to be successful within healthy relationships leads to excessively high levels of exclusions and further disruptions that has massive longer term social impact. I Matter Framework Training can ensure that home and school adults have strong foundations and the training and support they need to deliver joined up care packages that prioritises the development of often overlooked skills
vii. National Training of Teachers and Headteachers. In the drive to raise standards in literacy and numeracy something serious (and rather shocking) has been overlooked. Too few teachers and headteachers have a solid understanding of how children develop. Too few have an understanding of the relationship process that shapes the emergence of brain capacities in which they are engaged everyday. The general public have a right to assume that teachers and headteachers have this training but our experience is that this is not the case. There are some very intuitive teachers and headteachers delivering brain sensitive care but this is not a given to be found in our everyday schools practice. I Matter Framework training creates a foundation for understanding the centrality of the adult-child relationship and a foundation for more wholistic thinking about the priorities in our schools
viii Addressing antisocial behaviour and crime One of the most clearly evidenced areas of child intervention research is the continuity often seen between challenging behaviour seen in early childhood and later difficulties. Another clearly evidenced area of research is the number of children who become involved in youth offending who struggle to understand and take care of the needs of others. What this again suggests is that what is needed is clear investment in preventative practices that ensure that children's early needs for effective care that priorities their social emotional skills development and their ability to understand and empathise with others is given a top priority. This is our view suggests that there is an urgent need to review what is being tracked in school education practice. There are in our view some glaring gaps. I Matter Framework Training sets out the skill sets that are needed by both staff and pupils and provides tools to assess and monitor progress.
ix) National Parent Education Strategy So, overall, why is it still so difficult for parents and carers - even very committed parents and carers who are looking for help - to access it? Our view is that parenting and caring is still seen as an 'add on' - an 'it would be nice if we were funded to it - but it is not our business' style of thinking. Yet if we are serious about evidence based practice this neglect of the centrality of the adult-child relationship to educational outcomes, mental health outcomes physical health outcomes and crime statistics does not hold water. The skills of parenting and caring are complex and sophisticated and can improve with understanding and support. Investment in skills development should not be seen as a mark of shame but as a positive commitment to health and excellence. So something seems to be off track in our thinking and messaging. I Matter Framework training comes to this challenge by equipping professional settings with the attitudes and perspectives necessary for better work with parents.
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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