NEW support officers are now on hand in Westbury to help and advise parents in the town.
Julia Tugwell and Wendy Case are employed by Wiltshire Council as Parent Support Officers (PSAs) and they started working in Westbury’s schools in November.
The pair are available to help parents with a whole range of issues, from concerns about their child’s behaviour to getting parents more involved in their child’s school.
Julia said, “As a PSA I’m a one-stop advice and information person. We’re here to provide swift and easy access for parents to different groups, such as the police, the youth offending team, the autism society or whoever.”
Because PSA’s are not employed by the schools directly, they can be an independent, confidential and impartial contact for parents.
Julia added that both herself and Wendy can be contacted for help and advice on a whole range of topics.
She said, “There’s a really broad spectrum of things that parents can get in touch about. My job is basically to make parents happy because when parents are happy, generally kids are happy.”
For example, as well as pointing parents in the right direction of relevant help, Julia and Wendy will also offer personal practical help if they feel it is necessary.
Julia was a primary school teacher in Westbury for 15 years before she became a PSA, something she feels has given her a good understanding of children’s welfare issues.
She said, “I’m passionate about children’s welfare. It’s nice to be out and about. There’s a lot of variety, meeting different parents and families. As a PSA I can spend the time on things that maybe teachers haven’t got the time to do. Being passionate about it is what makes me get up and do it.”
Toni Brodie, Matravers’ assistant headteacher said, “PSAs can help parents before a problem reaches crisis point. Julia has settled in really well, she understands how Matravers works and so that has helped her hit the ground running. She understands how things work, and how to get things done.
“She can go the extra mile that sometimes teachers can’t.”
Julia has organised a series of informal meetings for parents of children who attend Westbury Infants, Westbury Juniors and Matravers School. Taking place on the first Friday of every month at Westbury Youth Centre, the ‘First Friday’ meetings are a chance to have a chat with experts, the PSAs, and other parents over tea and coffee.
The mornings are scheduled to last between 9.00am-10.30am and start on Friday 8th January with the topic of ‘Money Makeover’. Other topics in forthcoming months include ‘Love Learning’, ‘Health and Happiness’ and ‘I’m Bored’.