Families Matter - August 2020

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Welcome to your monthly bitesize e-bulletin from the Parent and Family Support Service.

We understand the challenges of a busy family life and provide a wide range of services and support for all parents and carers in Tower Hamlets.

Here you’ll find regular updates, information, advice, and support for all parents and carers in Tower Hamlets.

Our services take place in schools and community venues and most recently due to the Coronavirus our support can be accessed online through webinars, virtual meetings and forums.

You can join one of our networks or attend a virtual parenting session to meet other parents and carers, share your experiences and learn from each other. 

For more information about the service, visit our website.

If you like this e-bulletin please share on social media, through community networks or your school website using the following share button, or you can click the hyperlink in the top right corner of this email.

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Poster - School is a place to learn

Back to school – get ready

Next week, children and young people in Tower Hamlets will begin to go back to school; for some, this may be the first time they have set foot in a classroom since March.

To help families, children and young people prepare the council has collected the latest advice, information and support on www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/backtoschool which will be updated throughout September.

They have also released several new videos, featuring students, staff and parents discussing what they have missed about school, how they continued their learning during lockdown and why they’re looking forward to going back to school.

Find our more >

Children looking at camera

Back to school - your questions answered

Children and young people from Tower Hamlets recently put their questions on going back to school to Katie Cole, the council’s Associate Director of Public Health for Children and Families.

Tune in >

Its back to school

Back to school - government guidance

Many parents will have concerns about the return to school and may be worried that their child has fallen behind with their learning or they might want to know more about how children will be kept safe from the virus at school. The government has produced a comprehensive guide that aims to answer some common concerns - from how learning will resume to what happens if there is a confirmed case of Covid- 19 at school. 

Read more >

Girl looking out of a window

Back to school worries – support for children

School is such an important part of a child’s life, but the prospect of returning after lockdown may leave some children feeling anxious or frightened. Here are some useful tips, produced by Childline, to help children navigate some of the complicated emotions they may be feeling about going back to school.

Get support >

Back to school

Back to school worries - support meetings for parents

Are you worried about your child’s return to school? Do you think they have fallen behind with their learning? Are you anxious about their safety and want to know more about how they will be kept safe at school?

The Parent and Family Support Service is offering parents ‘Back to School’ virtual meetings. These meetings can be provided one-to-one or in small groups and give parents a chance to connect with others as well as discuss any concerns they may have with an experienced practitioner.

There will also be discussion groups for Bengali and Somali speakers as well as meetings for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), also supported by the borough’s SEND Parent Ambassadors.

SEND back to school workshops for parents will be held every Thursday in September, starting Thursday 3 September from 11am to 1 pm. Workshops for other parent groups will also be delivered from September.

To find out more and to book your place email parentalengagement@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call the Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495.

School Uniform

School clothing grant

Starting back at school can be an expensive time for families, but did you know you may be eligible for a school clothing grant to help towards the cost of a school uniform? The grant is for children aged 11 who are changing from primary to secondary school.

Applications for this year can be made until 30 September, although late applications may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Learn more >

Child reading a book

Starting school reading inspiration

Starting school brings about big changes for the whole family and is a key milestone in a child’s life. Some children will adjust easily to the new environment, while others will take longer to feel secure.

Sharing engaging stories about starting school is a great way to gently prepare them for their first day. Whether they are nervous or excited - these books, compiled by the Book Trust, will help their big day go smoothly.

Reading inspiration >

Morning routines

Stress free morning routines

Those first mornings of the school year can be tricky, but it’s worth taking time to establish a morning routine - it can help set up your day and ensure children get off to the best possible start at school. 

Here are some simple ideas to help you streamline your school morning routine and get everyone back to school with less stress.

Less stress >

Young person cycling

Alternatives to public transport

With reduced capacity on public transport, more and more people are looking for alternatives to using public transport like walking, cycling or using a scooter.

These are all great ways to get to work or school and fitting it into your daily routine may be easier than you think. You could see a lot more of London and may even discover some interesting routes along the way.

Active travel >

Mother holding a baby

How has Covid-19 affected your family?

University College London want to learn more about the impact of Covid-19 on families with young children. If you live in Tower Hamlets and you are pregnant or have a child who is under-five, they would like to hear from you.

Participants will receive a £10 shopping voucher and results from the survey will help shape the council’s services for families and young children.

Complete survey >

Logo of FIS

The Family Information Service

The Family Information Service (FIS) provides information on all services in Tower Hamlets as well as an eligibility checking service for free school meals and early learning for two year olds. The service can also provide wider information on how families can receive support with food outside school if required, childcare, health and leisure and much more.

For further information please visit Local Offer.

The FIS operates a telephone information service from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. To find out more call 020 7364 6495 or email fis@towerhamlets.gov.uk

School Governor

Become a school governor

Have you ever considered becoming a school governor? Schools need governing boards that have a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience to enable it to be effective. If you’d like the chance to make a real difference to young people, give back to the local community while developing your own skills, then this could be the perfect role for you.

For more details, contact Governor Services on 020 7364 3141 or email governors@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

Apply now >

Planning for secondary school

Planning for secondary school

Starting secondary school is such an important step in a young person’s educational journey, but the application process can be daunting. The Tower Hamlets Transition Support Service are on hand to provide valuable advice and support around transitions.

The service will be delivering information workshops virtually in the Autumn. The ‘Moving Up 2021’ workshops, for Year 6 parents, aim to demystify the secondary school application process as well as providing useful tips to ease the transition to secondary school.

For more details, speak to your primary school, visit the Local Offer, email transitions@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 0207 364 1533.

Keep Tower Hamlets Safe

Keep Tower Hamlets Safe

Children are less likely that adults to catch Covid-19, and they are less likely to spread it or get seriously ill from it. 

Encourage children to wash hands with soap and water frequently, cover their mouth if coughing/sneezing and bin tissues immediately.

If you, or anyone you know, has Covid-19 symptoms, stay at home and get tested right away!

Anyone with a new continuous cough, fever or a change or loss in their sense of taste or smell, should get tested.

If your child is unwell:

For children under 5:

Contact your GP. Call NHS 111 or go to NHS Online111.nhs.uk/covid-19. In an emergency, call 999.

For children aged over 5 years and adults:

Call NHS 119 or go to NHS Online for more information and to ask for a FREE coronavirus test

More info. >

Holiday Childcare

Holiday Childcare Scheme Fun

The summer holiday childcare scheme was a great success with student placements  taking place and an exciting Playday event  which was attended by James Thomas, the borough’s new Director for Children and Culture.

Our scheme newsletter will give more insight into the fun children had at the scheme and our offer to parents/carers.

Read more >

Parent Council Poster

Parents, have your say!

The voice of parents is very important. Have you considered joining one of our parent forums or networks? Parents can register to join the Parent and Carer Council, the borough’s main family forum which meets three times a year. Parents are welcome to come along, listen to other parents and key speakers and give their views about services that are available to parents across the borough. 

Parents can also join our Dads’ Network or our Somali Parents and Carers Network and there are opportunities to become active parent volunteers, including becoming a SEND Parent Ambassador or supporting other parent champion programmes.

Get involved >


Coronavirus updates and advice

The council is supporting the nation's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, while running our most critical services and supporting our residents, including those that are vulnerable.  

We are regularly publishing advice for residents, local businesses and more at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirus 

We are also sharing updates with our subscribers in regular emails, and publishing stories on social media using #TowerHamletsTogether.

Sign up to our 'health and wellbeing - coronavirus' newsletter to get regular updates delivered to your inbox.

 Sign up for updates >

Stay at home

More on staying healthy, happy and entertained at home

In addition to the highlights featured here, the council has put together a whole host of resources to help families and individuals stay happy, healthy and entertained while they spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From online Idea Store materials to educational activities, learning a new skill or hobby, taking a virtual museum or zoo tour, keeping fit or just having pure fun, we've got it all in one place.

More activities and resources >

Did you know that Tower Hamlets offers other email newsletters to keep you up to date on a variety of topics?

  See the list and sign up!