The Settlement Team is part of Coventry's Ethnic Minority Achievement Service (EMAS). Created to help new families coming from abroad find school places for their children, the team specialises in supporting families who struggle to communicate in English and therefore find navigating the admission process difficult.
The team comprises seven bilingual officers who speak a range of languages including:
When a family first contacts EMAS, a Settlement Officer asks parents or guardians for the following initial information:
Once this information has been recorded, a member of the team will make an appointment to visit the family at home.
EMAS's Settlement Team Officers visit families at home to assess their individual needs. The information they collect is passed onto Coventry's School Organisation team who deal with school admissions.
Visits are mutually beneficial. As well as giving families a lot of important advice about the admission process, Settlement Officers can explain about the English education system and support parents in selecting a school for their children. They can also advise on pupils wishing to transfer from one school to another.
If children do not get a place at a school requested by the family, there is an appeals process which Settlement Officers help each family with. In this way, the EMAS Settlement Team supports families throughout the admission process, advising and, in many cases, translating during meetings with various educational agencies. These meetings could be with teachers responsible for SEND in schools to professionals working for the local authority such as Educational Psychologists.
Settlement Officers also play an important safeguarding role, checking every child's status. This means scrutinising passports and ID documents to make sure children are with their lawful parents or guardians and are therefore safe.
Information about initial home visits is available in the following languages:
The role of a Settlement Officer is varied and complex, requiring a range of many different skills. Below is a brief account of one family's support."The family was originally from West Africa but had lived in Italy for many years. The first time I visited was in October 2015 when it was clear that two of the three children had special needs. The parents spoke French but the children also had a few words of Italian. Over a twelve month period, I supported the family at more than 25 meetings with various educational agencies. I attended admission and follow up meetings at a local primary school for the two younger children and at a special school for the older child. This included supporting the family when they had to appeal for their daughter to get a place at the same primary school as their son. She later joined her older sibling at special school. This process involved relaying messages to and from parents to schools as and when needed. In order to meet the daughter's needs, I attended meetings at the family's home and the special school to help draft an EHC plan. I did home visits with colleagues from Children and Families First and the Disability Team in Social Care to assess the needs of the children and ensure that there were no safeguarding issues."
EMAS Settlement Officer