Under DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) the Home School Community Liaison Scheme (HSCL) seeks to promote partnership between parents, teachers and community family support services. A HSCL Coordinator is a teacher from a participating school/s who is released from teaching duties, for a maximum of five years, in order to work intensively with and support parents/guardians. The overarching goal of the HSCL Coordinator is to improve educational outcomes for children through their work with the key adults in the child’s life.
The HSCL coordinator also works in an integrated way with the other two strands of TESS; School Completion Programme (SCP) and Educational Welfare Service Statutory (EWS), in order to provide appropriate initiatives and interventions for families.
Home Visits are the primary point of contact for HSCL Coordinators, as this is where strong relationships are built with parents/guardians. In addition, HSCL Coordinators organise parent classes in the relevant school/s and provide information and guidance to parents/guardians with regard to accessing community based programmes and supports.
The scheme also supports families as their children transition from early education to primary school, from primary school to post-primary school and finally from post-primary school to further and higher education, training or employment.
As HSCL, how do I work as part of the integrated TESS team?
As a HSCL Coordinator, you will work collaboratively with the three strands of TESS; Home School Community Liaison Coordinators (HSCL), Education Welfare Officers (EWO) and School Completion Programme personnel (SCP) to improve educational outcomes for children. You will also link in with the local HSCL Coordinators and attend your family/ local HSCL clusters regularly. Liaise with the local EWO regarding open cases, referrals and parent meetings. Engage with the local SCP Coordinator and support the implementation of the SCP intake framework.
What planning and recording requirements are expected?
TESS require that all HSCL Coordinators complete:
- HSCL Annual Logic Model Plan
- HSCL Weekly Timetable
- HSCL Parent/Guardian One-to-One Contact form
- HSCL Annual Return Form
- HSCL Grant Expenditure
- Key Performance Indicators
Sample templates are available in the Induction Booklet (insert hyperlink) and, upon appointment to the post of HSCL Coordinator, this soft copies will be issued to you via the HSCL office. You will receive training during CPD, your local cluster will also offer support and your Regional Manager is always available for advice and guidance.
As HSCL, how do I liaise with my Principal?
Your Principal is responsible for the management of all school personnel and it is important that you take time to build your professional relationship with your Principal, especially if you are shared between schools and the Principal is new to you. Good communication is very important. You will likely have a great deal of communication with the Principal but a weekly scheduled meeting is highly recommended. This allows you to work together to determine priorities in your school, in accordance with national guidance. You are required to provide the Principal with a copy of your HSCL Weekly Timetable and your HSCL Annual Logic Model Plan. The weekly meeting is a valuable opportunity to plan your work and to offer feedback.
Is there a budget for HSCL activities?
A minimum of 10% of your school’s DEIS Grant is to be allocated to HSCL activities. You should discuss planning and accounting for these funds with your Principal. Schools are accountable to the DES Social Inclusion Unit for this expenditure. You should keep an accurate record and receipts of all items purchased for HSCL activities as a completed expenditure form must be returned to the DES annually, and it will be required in the event of an audit. HSCL Coordinators are entitled to travel expenses, in accordance with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regulations.
In my role as HSCL, how can parents, colleagues and TESS management team contact me?
It is essential that you have a work mobile phone (with a set greeting stating your name and role) and an email address, normally provided by the school. You should have access to a secure computer or laptop. Do not use your own personal email address or mobile number in your role as HSCL Coordinator.
How can I build relationships with parents?
Take time in the beginning to be visible around your school(s) as much as possible, especially when parents are dropping and collecting their children. Spend time in the Parents’ Room and hold parent meetings/coffee mornings. Set up a course for parents and choose an initiative to run. Home visits, a core part of your work as HSCL, to new families are a key way to build relationships. Get to know your target parents and build trust. Some of your families may have feelings of anxiety, ambivalence or negativity towards the school. They may have had poor educational experiences themselves. Do not make assumptions; allow parents to tell you about their experiences and their aspirations for their children. Many families have already built excellent links with the school and now need to get to know and trust you. Be mindful that some children are not in the care of their birth parents and you may find yourself liaising with other carers such as grandparents, older siblings, foster parents etc.
What are Home Visits?
Visiting parents in their own homes is a core part of the HSCL scheme. You are acting as a bridge between home and school. Visiting the family at home allows you a unique opportunity to get the perspective of the family. Parents tend to be more comfortable in their own environment. You are required to plan your home visits in consultation with the Principal and you should aim to spend approximately one third of your time on home visitation.
What courses and classes can I run for parents?
Courses/classes should be aimed at empowering parents and provide opportunities for you to build relationships. Best practice ideas, in the areas of literacy, numeracy, Gaeilge, parenting support and wellbeing are available in the Induction Booklet upon appointment and shared via the Newsletter via the HSCL Office. Your HSCL family and local clusters are also key to sharing and liaising on appropriate parent classes and courses. Please keep an accurate account of the number of parents who attend all courses run through the HSCL scheme.
What is the HSCL Target List?
While the HSCL scheme is largely preventative, it is also a targeted resource, which aims to improve educational outcomes for the students most at risk of poor attendance, participation and retention. The specific work you do with families should focus on the parents/guardians of those students who are experiencing, or are likely to experience, educational disadvantage. Compile the HSCL Target List in consultation with the Principal, SCP, EWS and other relevant services. Children/families who must be on the HSCL Target List include:
- Parent/Guardian of any child who is in receipt of SCP intervention
- Parent/Guardian of any child referred to EWS and/or is an open case with EWS
- Parent/Guardian of any child who is involved with Tusla Social Work and/or in care
Other children and families may also be included on the HSCL Target List. Full details of identifying and managing the HSCL Target List are outlined in the Induction Booklet which will be issued upon appointment.
What are the Family/Local Clusters?
You are required to attend family and local HSCL cluster meetings as these are key to your work and an integral part of your support structure. Clusters support HSCL Coordinators, both at a personal and professional level. These meetings also facilitate the sharing and dissemination of good practice and the development of locally based responses to address educational disadvantage. Cluster meetings are an excellent source of support, advice, inspiration and motivation.
Your Family Cluster, where appropriate, will meet roughly every week/fortnight for 1- 2 hours. You will engage around the same families and may plan joint interventions. Cluster meetings allow HSCL Coordinators to share resources, to organise common courses and classes for parents, and to prepare and initiate transfer programmes. Remember that you have a great deal to offer your cluster and you bring your own perspectives, talents and strengths. The Local Cluster is a larger group made up of HSCL Coordinators from a wider area which meets 5-7 times a year. These meetings provide a structure to allow you to be informed of local initiatives and to liaise with voluntary and statutory bodies. The meetings also support an integrated provision of services to parents and pupils in your particular area.
Cluster meetings provide professional peer support which is vital, as the role of HSCL Coordinator while extremely rewarding can also be challenging at times. Cluster meetings are chaired by a nominated HSCL Coordinator and minutes are taken by a nominated secretary. These roles rotate amongst the HSCL cluster members annually. The family and local cluster meeting must be included in your weekly plan and your attendance is a requirement of TESS.
Who can I contact for advice and guidance?
The relevant TESS Integrated Service Manager support and advise HSCL Coordinators and schools on all aspects of the HSCL scheme. You may meet your Manager at cluster meetings, at a school visit and at CPD. Contact details are available in Circular 0016/2019, so please feel free to contact your Manager, who will assist you in every way possible. Zita Robinson, HSCL Administrator in the national office, is most helpful and will deal with or redirect your queries. Please ensure she has up to date contact details for you and for your school Principal, in order to receive all relevant information from head office.
Where can I find out more information?
- Information Booklet for DEIS Schools Participating in HSCL - English | Irish
- Circular 0016/2019
- From Vision to Best Practice
- My Child My Vision
- EWS attendance documents etc.