Families Matter - September 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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School applications

Apply now for nursery, primary or secondary school places starting September 2021

Parents and carers in Tower Hamlets can now apply for places at their chosen nursery, primary or secondary schools in the borough, starting in September 2021.

The secondary school booklet is online this year.

Applications opened on Tuesday 1 September and deadlines vary by age group: 

  • Apply for secondary school places by Saturday 31 October 2020 
  • Apply for primary school places by Friday 15 January 2021 
  • Apply for nursery places in maintained nursery schools and primary schools by Tuesday 16 February 2021

Learn more in a series of short videos, which explain how and when to apply: nursery, primary and secondary

Find out more >


Tower Hamlets Transition Support Service

The Tower Hamlets Transition Support Service continues to provide information, advice and support around school transitions. They are currently offering secondary transfer workshops for Year 6 parents to explain the application process for secondary schools. These ‘Moving Up 2021’ virtual sessions, delivered through Zoom, will run until October half term.

The Transition Support Service also work with families on a range of school issues including school admissions, managed moves, exclusions and bullying concerns.

For more details contact email transitions@towerhamlets.gov.uk  or call Bernadette Ogazi, Senior Transition Support Officer on 07940 462 447.

Virtual sessions

Free virtual sessions for worried parents

This year it’s been a ‘back to school’ like no other. From worries about class bubbles and schools closing again to figuring out how to get the most out of ‘blended learning’- there’s been a lot for parents to navigate.

The Parental Engagement Team continue to provide support and respond to parents’ changing needs with their offer of free, virtual sessions. You’ll have a chance to share your experiences, ask questions and pick up some useful tips from experienced schools and families practitioners.

Topics include support for parents on:

  • Key stage 1 and 2 maths and reading
  • Learning in the early years
  • Online safety and learning using school websites (also covering online learning portals such as Google Classroom and Purple Mash)
  • Healthy families tips 

There will also be a session on how to create a rich home learning environment that compliments lessons at school.

The first session delivered via Zoom is on Tuesday 29 September with a discussion on supporting your child’s learning as they return to school.

For more information, including dates, times and how to attend, please click the link below.

Information to book places here >

Holiday childcare - children playing

Holiday Childcare Scheme - book for October half term

The Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme offers play provision for children aged three to 13-years-old.

The October scheme will be held at St Mary and St Michael Primary School from Monday 26 October to Friday 30 October 2020. 

Book now >

Father and son

The Tower Hamlets Dads’ Network virtual meet up

The Tower Hamlets Dads’ Network supports dads and male carers to strengthen their relationship with their children through positive parenting and play.

The network’s next virtual meet up will be on Friday 2 October from 2 pm to 3 pm. The meeting, which will be hosted on Zoom, is an opportunity to share parenting experiences, catch up on local news, ask questions, and get advice.

For more details and the Zoom link, contact Andy Simons.

Tel:      020 7364 6398

Email:  parenting@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Find out more >

Parent and Carer Council

Parent and Carer Council virtual meeting

The next Parent and Carer Council meeting will be held on Saturday 10 October 2020, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm via Zoom.  

Public Health will be attending with the latest local Covid-19 information for families and there will be information on anti-racism projects taking place in schools.  To mark World Mental Health Day, Parent Champion volunteers will share the work they have been doing to raise awareness of the importance of children and parents’ mental health.

There will be updates since the last meeting in March plus a chance to meet the new Tower Hamlets Director of Children and Culture, James Thomas and hear from Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools on the work that has been happening in his area.

For more information, to join the Parent and Carer Council and to book your place at the next meeting, email parentcouncil@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Get involved! >


SEND Information Advice and Support Service telephone advice line

The Tower Hamlets Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (SEND IASS) provides expert advice, advocacy and mediation for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. This can be on any issues related to education, health and social care.

The service now has a telephone advice line to replace the previous ‘drop-in’ sessions. For information and advice, please contact the advice line on 020 7364 6460.

This service runs every Tuesday 9.30 am to 3 pm.

SEND IASS main line 020 7364 6489 is open Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm.

Parent Ambassador

Become a SEND Parent Ambassador

The SEND Parent Ambassadors are parents of children and young people with SEND. They work with the Family Information, Advice and Support Service to ensure that parents and carers in Tower Hamlets are informed, consulted and invited to participate in the shaping of services for local families.

The Ambassadors deliver outreach information workshops in schools and settings across the borough and actively promote parent participation. Ambassadors receive ongoing training and support. 

If you are interested in becoming a SEND Parent Ambassador, telephone 020 7364 7127 or email fis@towerhamlets.gov.uk  

SEND Parent Ambassador Inspiration here >

Young people's forum at picnic

SEND Young People’s Forum

The Tower Hamlets SEND Young People’s Forum is an all ability youth forum run by and for young people between the ages of 16 – 25-years-old with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The forum campaigns for positive change as well as providing opportunities for young people to gain new experiences, make friends and build their confidence. They hold regular events such as their recent summer picnic, where everyone enjoyed catching up with one another post lockdown in August.

If you know any young people who would be interested in joining the forum, call 020 7364 7127 or email yp@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

Child playing

Help with family challenges during the pandemic

The current pandemic has resulted in many challenges for families to navigate. School closures, remote working and social distancing have all caused disruption to family life. UNICEF have produced some handy tips to help parents deal with some of these challenges- from how to parent in a crowded home to family budgeting in times of financial crisis.

 UNICEF’s handy tips >

Children's Choir

Tower Hamlets Virtual Children’s Choir

Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service (THAMES) are launching a free virtual choir for children aged 7 – 11-years-old who live or attend school in Tower Hamlets. The virtual choir will meet on Mondays, 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm, starting on Monday 5 October using Zoom.

All you need is a quiet place to sing, a device with internet connection and for parents to complete a safeguarding consent form. Once registered, full details will be emailed to you.

Register here >


Reading inspiration for Black History Month

October is Black History Month and recent events have only highlighted why we need to celebrate it now more than ever.

Books can play a vital role in helping children make sense of the past, so author Catherine Johnson has teamed up with the Book Trust to share her all time favourite Black History books that will educate and inspire.             

Get inspired here >

Lady reading a book

Idea Store autumn course directory

Autumn is a great time to embark on a project or learn a new skill. Get inspired with the very latest course directory from Tower Hamlets Idea Store. You’ll find a range of courses from photography to foreign languages and with day-time, evening and weekend courses; there should be something to suit everyone.

Start learning here >

Keeping Community Safe

Keeping our community safe

Knife crime is a worrying concern for many parents. It can be easy to feel helpless, but there are things you can do. By speaking up and sharing information with Crimestoppers (a charity who are independent from the police), you can help to make our communities safer.

Every little bit of information is useful in the fight against knife crime, so if something doesn’t feel right, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Hard calls saves lives >

Home Education

Elective home education information

Some parents choose to educate their children at home rather than sending them to school. While parents can legally take on this responsibility, the local authority must be informed and satisfied that the child is being taught to an acceptable standard.

If you are currently home educating or considering home education as an approach to meeting the learning needs of your child, advice and guidance about home education is available from the Tower Hamlets Education Safeguarding Service.

For more information, please contact the Tower Hamlets Education Safeguarding Service.

Email: ehe@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Tel: 020 7364 3431

More education information >

Community Champion

Become a Covid-19 community champion

As cases of Covid-19 are increasing in the borough, Tower Hamlets Council is calling on residents to sign up to become Covid-19 community champions to help everyone stay informed and in tune with the latest advice.  

The programme is simple. Residents sign up to become champions and the council then regularly shares up-to-date advice and information on Covid-19 with them. Champions then share the information with their families, friends and their wider communities, helping them make sense of it.

Sign up here >

Parents in a classroom

The Somali Parents and Carers Network

The network is an established support group for Somali parents in the borough that meets every month during term time. It provides a space for Somali parents to share their experiences, listen to guest speakers and discuss topics relating to education, health, parenting and safeguarding.

The Parental Engagement Team has been adapting to the current health situation by inviting Somali parents and carers to virtual network meetings instead of the usual face-to- face meetings.

The next meeting will be held on Monday 19 October from 11 am to 1 pm via Zoom. For further information or to book a place, email parenting@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 7364 6398.

Families Matter

Families Matter Magazine – Autumn 2020

Alongside the monthly Families Matter e-bulletin, the Parent and Family Support Service also produces a termly magazine full of local and national information on services to support families.

The latest edition is out now.

Families Matter Magazine >

Local Offer

Support available for families

For more resources, information, advice, and guidance tailored towards children, young people, families, and professionals visit our Local Offer website.

Alternatively, you can call the Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495 (Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm).

Visit the Local Offer >


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 >

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!