A click away: advice for teachers of homeless

8th April 2011 at 01:00
Shelter Scotland's new site helps schools to support affected children, writes Chris Small

Shelter Scotland has launched a web service aimed at deepening education professionals' understanding of how homelessness can affect children's school life.

The charity says there is a "communication gap" between schools and local authorities, meaning that teachers are often unaware of the circumstances that may influence a child's attendance, performance and behaviour at school. Being homeless is known to be detrimental to a child's education and can lead to other serious issues, such as being bullied.

With a strong emphasis on information sharing, the resource includes guidance on measures teachers can take to support homeless children with their learning.

Jessie Crawford, Shelter Scotland's co-ordinator for children's service policy and practice, hopes it will help to give teachers a better perspective on the challenges faced by pupils who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation.

"Children bring experiences from their home lives into school," she says. "We wanted to provide a clearer steer to education professionals about how they could be more aware of the issues that could be affecting their pupils. For example, if they are not doing their homework, is it because they are living in temporary accommodation and there's no desk for them to work at? There needs to be a better understanding of how the home life situation can contribute to potential problems at school."

Urging organisations to work intelligently together on behalf of children affected by homelessness, the site's remit dovetails with the aims of Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child, and with legislation on Additional Support for Learning. The site also includes a film where three pupils talk about their experience of homelessness.

www.homelesschildren.org.uk.

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