Hafod Primary School – Partnership Working in Practice

Councillors from the Partnership Overview and Scrutiny Committee visited Hafod Primary School earlier this week.

Welcome to the school!

The purpose of the visit was to follow up their scrutiny of Swansea Local Service Board. Specifically the idea was to test some of the things they had been told about the Local Service Board’s Prevention and Early Intervention Programme by seeing how it actually worked on the ground.  Hafod School was an ideal place to do this as it is involved in a number of initiatives associated with the project including Team around the Family, ‘So to Do’ and Restorative Practice.

The visit, which was hosted by Head Teacher Rachael Webb and Chair of Governors Beverley Hopkins, included the opportunity to meet with children and staff as well as a number of ‘police friends’ who have been working in partnership with the school on a number of projects.

Indian dancing

A special assembly gave the councillors the chance to see the school’s photo story, to hear a presentation by the children on the school’s rights based approach, to take part in what might be the coolest school song ever and to see a display of Indian dancing that even some of the staff spontaneously joined in with!

There is clearly a special atmosphere at this school which has more than its fair share of social challenges. This was evident from arrival when we were greeted by very confident and capable children rather than by the staff. The layout of the school and lively way it has been decorated (by staff in their spare time) all reflected the commitment to a rights based approach and the desire to make the best use of every space.

The schools work in the community and with families is also striking and it here that the whole issue of partnership working comes to the fore. Here is a brief description of the So to Do project (from the CYP website) that is a key part of this:

The ‘So to Do’ part of the project was able to offer immediate responses to some of the community issues – increased policing of parks, joint work with Trading Standards officers to visit shops selling liquor, a police presence at the school enabling young people the opportunity of establishing a rapport with the officer, a youth night, Holiday activities etc

A number of key points about partnership working on the ground emerged during the visit:

  • The school had fully embraced the frameworks agreed at strategic partnership level – in particular those agreed by the Children and Young People Partnership
  • There was clearly enthusiasm for the partnership project – Head Teacher Rachael Webb described it as ‘the best partnership project I have ever been involved in’
  • The role of the Police was clearly critical particularly their willingness to embrace a new way of working. This positive culture change was lead from the top and reflected a willingness to push the decisions made at partnership level down though the organisation
  • There was a feeling that the relationship with the strategic level was two way with issues such as information sharing, for example, being taken up and that there was a ‘sea change’ on this issue 
  • There were still some difficulties – joint working with social services was not yet all that had been hoped for although this was improving
  • There was some anxiety about imminent changes to the current partnership model of working given that the current structure seemed to be working so well
  • The desire to always get to the root problems that children faced was likely to generate new work for partner agencies – this was not seen so much as a problem but as an inevitable consequence of ‘doing things the right way’
  • The school’s involvement in ‘So to Do’ is part of a pilot – there was a recognition that support might be less if it was rolled out more widely

Everything about Hafod School was certainly impressive and overall the visit confirmed the difference that partnership working, in terms of this project at least, was making on the ground.

Clls Jeff Jones and Janet Thomas with Inspector Mitch Davies and Chair of Governors Beverley Hopkins

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