Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 11 January 2012

PDF version of this report (208.2 kb)

The Chairperson:

We will move on to the briefing from Barnardo’s on full service schools.  You will recall that, unfortunately, we did not get to this item at our last meeting prior to recess because other items ran on.  So, we have with us today representatives from Barnardo’s who will speak to us about full service schools, which I think are of huge importance to us.  I welcome Lynda, Anne and Julie to the Committee.  Lynda, you are welcome back again.  We apologise for having to reschedule the meeting in this way, but we appreciate that you have made the time to come here, and we wish you a very happy 2012. 

 

Lynda, we are in your hands.

 

Ms Lynda Wilson (Barnardo’s):

First, let me thank you for giving us this opportunity.  You are quite right; we were originally to present on 14 December 2011, and we had the benefit of hearing Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) officials present and your questioning of them, as well as Dawn Purvis’s presentation.  There was, and I think that there continues to be, a strong resonance between what Dawn said and the kind of issues that we are concerned about, such as educational underachievement, particularly in disadvantaged communities.  We are glad to be back. 

 

Let me introduce my two colleagues so that you understand their roles, know where they are from and what they are bringing.  Julie Healy is the programme manager for Ready to Learn, which is an early literacy development programme funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies that we are random-control trialling.  Anne Dawson is our media and communications manager, but she is also carrying a public affairs policy role. 

 

I will say a few general words.  I know that the Committee has received the paper, and we are happy to take questions on it.  Our interest in full service community schools is in educational underachievement as a social justice issue, particularly in disadvantaged communities.  We see the potential that a strategy for full service community schools has to address that very effectively.  We made a decision 10 or 15 years ago to take our work into schools.  We are working in 160 schools, and we like working there because we can access children and they can access us.  We can access children in a way that means that we can bring them universal services and that, when children are in particular trouble, we can target services. 

 

As a children’s charity, our current spend in our schools programme here is £2·5 million, so we have a substantial programme.  Barnardo’s is putting in approximately half a million pounds from charitable funds, but we also broker in a substantial amount of funding from organisations such as the Big Lottery Fund and the Atlantic Philanthropies.  So, there is a leverage issue that can be brought in to the full service school model.

 

I think that it is very important that we make a positive statement about the initiatives coming from the Department of Education (DE) so far through the extended schools and the exemplars of the community schools network, as well as the Belfast Boys’ Model School and the Belfast Model School for Girls.  We see that as a foundation and a start, and we think that there is an opportunity now for a step change to take things to what we would see as the schools that are needed for the future, particularly where dealing with some of our social issues is concerned. 

 

Although some people talk about the current economic and policy context in depressive terms, we see it as an opportunity to address effectiveness, for example, and as an opportunity to rationalise schools, to bring them together into quite a different shape of school and to create hubs in communities where the schools can do so much more.

 

A lot of information is in the paper, but I will conclude my introductory remarks by saying that what you would expect to see in a full service community school is everything that is going to overcome the barriers to learning and assist principals in leading their schools, teachers in teaching and children in learning.  You would expect to be wrapping a portfolio of services around the particular needs of that school and community, with full partnership with organisations that can do all that wrap-around work.  So, you are not being brought in just as somebody who delivers a service in a programme; you are a full partner in that school.

 

Those are our key introductory points, and we are more than happy to take questions on the paper.

 

The Chairperson:

Thank you, Lynda.  Obviously, I have been very impressed by what I have seen.  I had a discussion just yesterday when Jim Keith, the principal of Belfast Boys’ Model School, was at Stormont.  You had an input, which we appreciated, into the previous Committee’s inquiry into successful post-primary schools, and you looked at full service schools.  Given that inquiry, it was clear that change can be brought about in areas that have huge challenges. 

 

There is sometimes a malaise out there that says, “Ah, well, things are just so bad, it can’t be done.”  However, I am able, even in areas of my constituency, to say, “But hold on; in certain other places where you have the same socio-economic mix, challenges and difficulties, things have been done in a different way and better outcomes achieved.”

 

Full service schools are based the American Children’s Aid Society model, so, given that, do you see their work as being complementary to the Department’s vision and direction, or do you see them having to pick up and add to that delivery in schools because the Department is not doing it?  I will give you one example.  The Department gives assent to nurture classes but lets the Department for Social Development (DSD) pick up the funding tab and is not prepared, although it is stated and named in some of its polices, to develop it or to see it as a core part of what it does.  

 

When you were speaking, I said to the Committee Clerk that we do not have a paper from the Department saying, “This is our view of full service schools.”  We do not know the Department’s real view on how full service schools deliver or whether they should be part of the overall process.  With your permission, and with the Committee’s consent, we propose to send your paper to the Department and ask it to comment and to see whether you may have got something from the Department that would give you any sense of its views.  That was about 14 questions.  I apologise for that, but it is nothing new. 

 

Ms L Wilson:

We have not had that conversation with the Department, but we will have it tomorrow.

 

The Chairperson:

We will assist by forwarding your paper to the Department, and maybe that will be of help.

 

Ms L Wilson:

My perception is that the Department has put out a number of initiatives, strategies or investments that would have made a massive contribution to the development of full service community schools.  However, they have been singular. 

 

It is not simply about having the policies; it is about then having the infrastructure and the facilitative implementation on the ground to make that happen.  It is leaving it to principals and others to pick up at their own initiative.  It takes more in terms of very strong implementation plans and accountability plans to make it happen.  This is not a one-Department issue.  To create a full service community school, you need collaboration across Departments’ funding opportunities and for Departments to seek opportunities of funding collectively and to bring in other partners, such as us, who can broker different funding.

 

The Chairperson:

Are they pilots, Lynda?  Say, for example, the Belfast Boys’ Model School.

 

Ms L Wilson:

As I understand it, the Belfast Boys’ Model School is a pilot, and so is the Full Service Community Network, which is headed up by Gerry McMahon.  However, I understand that the funding for that going forward was confirmed last year.  We are not talking so much about individual pilots but about there actually being a full service community schools strategy and taking the opportunity of the moment when there is change to drive that.

 

The Chairperson:

Is there a risk of having good practice, a good model and good outcomes, but, in two or three years’ time, somebody in the Department decides that it does not have the money and that that is the programme that has to disappear.  We have seen that time and again, particularly in working class areas, where there are huge issues.  I remember visiting a primary school in the Shankill, and it brought tears to our eyes to see what was happening on the day that I was there.  Its special needs intervention facility had given outcomes and was doing well.  The funding disappeared, and the person was leaving the school that day.  What was taking place was horrendous.  Is there a risk that that could happen?

 

Mrs Julie Healy (Barnardo’s):

If it is viewed as a programme, there is a very clear risk that that could happen.  From our experience and from visiting schools, we know that when a new school is being considered and developed, if the idea of a community school is factored into that right from the word go, it can be created in a more sustainable way if active community partners are brought in and space is made available in the school for sustainable activities involving the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, DSD and other Departments right from the outset.  That means that activities, programmes and services that were perhaps always being offered to that community can continue to be offered but using the school as a hub or facility to continue that delivery in a more effective way.  It is really about rethinking the role of schools and not seeing it so much as a specific time-bound programme.  Such a programme would have a very high risk of falling apart once the money was withdrawn.

 

Miss M McIlveen:

Thank you very much for your presentation.  I take this opportunity to congratulate Margaret Kelly, who was assistant director of Barnardo’s, on her appointment as director of the Fostering Network.  She was a great friend of the Committee, and we all had a very close working relationship with her during her time with Barnardo’s.  As a result of that, I have had a very close working relationship with Barnardo’s, and I have nothing but praise for the services that have been delivered.

 

On the back of your presentation and the paper, what evidence do you have that there has been improvement in literacy and numeracy through your work?

 

Mrs Healy:

Lynda mentioned Ready to Learn, which is subject to a randomised control trial.  That is very soon approaching its midway point, so we hope to have evidence from that quite soon about whether we are moving in the right direction with that programme.  It takes a long time to demonstrate improvement in literacy.  So many different layers and aspects of a child’s life can have an impact on that that it is quite a tricky thing to evaluate.  That makes it a very expensive thing to evaluate.  The evaluation of Ready to Learn will meet the threshold of hard evidence in showing whether the programme has been effective.  We have a wide range of anecdotal evidence and perhaps not as rigorous evaluation results from a wide range of our services.  That might be feedback from schools, teachers and parents about seeing improvement in children’s achievement as a result of our services.

 

Ms L Wilson:

That is on that particular programme.  On a number of the other programmes — for example, the Dina programme, which is part of The Incredible Years programme — we have been collecting data and very strong evidence around improved behaviour and measurement on the like of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) scales, teacher reports and parent reports.  We have been rigorously measuring pro-social behaviour, attention, concentration and attendance.  We have also just acquired the American licences for the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) programme.  It is what they call a blueprint programme.  It is probably one of the top 11 evaluated programmes in the UK.  Again, it is about pro-social behaviour and self-regulation.  We are about to go into some testing at UK level to see whether we can link that to educational attainment.  That has never been done anywhere in the world.

 

Miss M McIlveen:

Quite a lot of your work includes involvement with parents as well, and obviously that has a positive impact on the quality of change within a family unit.  Will you chat about that?

 

Mrs Healy:

Again, that is something that we are measuring within the Ready to Learn programme.  Ready to Learn offers a literacy-rich after-school programme for children, but, in addition to that, we also engage the parents in promoting children’s learning at home.  The evaluation team is based at Queen’s University, and it has been doing home visits with around 150 families taking part in the trial.  Part of what that team is measuring is the home learning environment.  It will be tracking, over the three years, whether there have been any changes in that home learning environment, how that has impacted on the children’s learning, and whether parents feel more confident, more involved and more able to support their child’s learning.  That is being measured, and, as I said, we are approaching the mid-point of that study shortly.

 

Ms L Wilson:

In Tullycarnet, we do educational work with the women so that they also gain qualifications.  There are 32 women there who have gone through into employment by gaining qualifications.  They will have a better sense of the value of education if they have had the benefit of that value themselves.  At the moment, we are running literacy programmes with Traveller women alongside their two-year-olds to get pro-reading behaviour.  If you can get a Traveller woman who cannot read to point to pictures and to tell the story, that is her journey towards literacy as well as her child’s.

 

Miss M McIlveen:

That is one of the very positive results that comes out of a programme such as that, because you have access to people who have not had, or been able to appreciate, learning at the time when it was available to them.  You are opening doors, which is something to be congratulated.

 

Ms L Wilson:

They do not understand the journey unless they have taken it themselves.

 

Mrs Dobson:

Thank you, Lynda, for your briefing.  I also commend you for the important work that you do for schools across Northern Ireland.

 

You said that the model is cost-effective.  On a practical level, how do you see it generating savings in school budgets, considering the tough decisions that we are taking at the moment?

 

Mrs Healy:

As part of the preparation for putting the paper together, and over the years as we have been putting our thoughts and actions together around full service community schools, I have been trying to find evidence of cost-effectiveness.  As they are quite often wrapped around the needs of a particular community, it is difficult to find a typical cost.  They all tend to look slightly different and to include different components.  What they all share in common is that they have early intervention and preventative programmes in place.  A wide number of those have been very well evaluated to show that they are cost-effective. 

 

One of the common themes of evaluations of community schools is that they enable a better return on the investment that has already been made in a school.  At present, schools are funded to deliver certain outcomes.  However, because there are so many barriers to children’s learning, it is very difficult for them to get the full benefit and the full return on the investment that the school has to offer.  So, the first point is that it enables a better return on the investment that has already been made in the school.

 

Community schools in common tend to extend the child’s learning day, either by starting slightly earlier in the morning or continuing school after 2.00 pm or 3.00 pm when it usually ends.  There is good evidence to show that that is extremely cost-effective.  That is American evidence.  Unfortunately, I have not found anything closer to home.  However, there is evidence to show that, by extending the school day, you can increase a child’s learning potential by 30% at only 10% of the cost of a typical school day.  There are great savings and returns to be made on our investments.

 

Mrs Dobson:

You mentioned the American model of the Children’s Aid Society.  The Chair also spoke about that earlier.  That society has conducted research over 13 years, and that has shown positive results.  Do you have any specific statistics on that?

 

Ms L Wilson:

We have quite a close working relationship with the society, and we can make that information available.

 

Mrs Dobson:

In your briefing paper, you state:

“As the number of schools is rationalised ... there is an opportunity to ‘rethink’ the role of school.”

Have you had any discussions on that specific issue with the Department?

 

Ms L Wilson:

Tomorrow.

 

Mrs Dobson:

Will you raise that with the Department tomorrow?

 

Ms L Wilson:

Yes, we will definitely raise that.  I will give you an example.  The coming together of two schools in Ballymurphy, St Aidan’s Christian Brothers’ Primary School and St Bernadette’s Primary School, is currently out for consultation.  That would bring together a boys’ school and a girls’ school.  There is excellent leadership in both schools, which is critical.  We have a Travellers’ project in St Aidan’s; we have integrated that in the school and have a family support worker there.  Bringing those two schools together gives us a perfect opportunity to completely rethink what that new campus could do for that challenged community and how it could address issues such as longer-term employability, parenting skills and pro-social behaviour.

 

Mrs Dobson:

Finally, how many schools have you engaged with in your collaborative work?  You mentioned the pilot scheme in the Belfast Boys’ Model School.  How many schools have you engaged with in all aspects of full service community schools?

 

Ms L Wilson:

We are not running what I would call a full service community school in the way that I would like to be running them in the next few years.  Tullycarnet Primary School is probably the closest.  We are taking a broad range of programmes into schools through the Full Service Community Network, which is headed up by Gerry McMahon.  We are co-ordinating those services into schools, but there is a difference between taking it in from the outside and being part of the school and constructing all the wrap-around services from the inside.  We are drawing them in from other programmes and agencies, but the difference is having what we would call a transformational or technical assistance organisation that does that for schools.  Such an organisation would broker in the money and the programmes, be a part of schools’ planning and know the issues and the challenges faced by those schools and their communities.  That would take things to a different level.  Tullycarnet Primary School is the closest we have to that model.

 

Mrs Dobson:

Thank you very much.

 

Mr McNarry:

You are very welcome.  It is clearly no bad thing to look at how others do things, particularly if they do them successfully.  I appreciate you drawing that to our attention.  Turning to your presentation, I say well done and keep pushing.  You will have to push.

 

Ms L Wilson:

I know.

 

Mr McNarry:

From here, you look very capable of doing that.

 

Ms L Wilson:

I have been doing it for a while.

 

Mr McNarry:

I want to follow on from one of the things that Jo-Anne asked about.  You want to ensure that school buildings no longer sit empty.  That is a hobby horse of mine, and I think that it is ridiculous that communities do not have the full use of those buildings.  What do you mean by that?  Will you expand on that a little?  We all know that school buildings sit empty.  What benefits do you see arising?

 

Ms L Wilson:

There would be a range of things.  It is about accessibility for the community for a start.  Schools should be able to bring children in earlier for additionality in the form of learning or care, such as the provision of breakfast, without putting too much emphasis on breakfast clubs.  Parents should also be able to use the school.  Schools could be used for things like baby clinics and the provision of debt advice.  If parents are going to school, they could be used for —

 

Mr McNarry:

So, it is as many uses as possible, really.

 

Ms L Wilson:

Yes; providing that it does not disrupt the fact that schools are educational establishments, which are for learning and —

 

Mr McNarry:

I would go a bit further.  Has any thought been given to how we can deliver on the fact that schools sit empty at weekends, evenings or during school holidays?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

Yes.  I can give Ballymurphy as an example again, although I do not want to overemphasise that.  However, I have been up there very late at night to meet young people on the streets who are maybe going to a safe house. 

 

Mr McNarry:

Sorry; they are going to a what?

 

Ms L Wilson:

A safe house.  It is somewhere that a community worker may draw them to so that they are safe and off the street.  We would probably think that those young people just want to be out and engaged in criminal activity.  However, I found them playing cards, music, darts and whatever else in the place they had gathered.  If the school were able to extend and bring those young people in constructively, that would be a much better solution than people having to try to gather them in safely off the streets at night.  We interviewed young people last year, and one of the things they told us was that they would like to play football at night but that there is nowhere to do it.  They also told us that they would like to dance.  It came as a big shock to us that young people want to learn to dance in a more formal way.

 

Mr McNarry: 

Can you get us on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’?

 

The Chairperson: 

There is an idea.

 

Ms L Wilson: 

We saw amazing dance classes in really run-down projects and estates where kids come in from shelters and from off the street.  They were tap-dancing, and they felt brilliant.

 

Mr McNarry: 

It is interesting to hear about their interests.  I want to drill into some of the terminology with you.  You say that teachers are able to dedicate more time to education and less to non-academic issues.  What do you mean by that?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

If children are distressed in class, falling asleep in class within the first hour or displaying aggressive behaviour, they will take the teacher’s attention.  If there is on-site access to childcare intervention, a teacher will know where to go when they have a problem with a child who comes in looking neglected and hungry, who falls asleep and who is distracted and not learning.  The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) published a report last year that stated that schools where there is on-site accessibility to those services have seen greatly increased help-seeking behaviour in teachers.  Our own research indicates that, if those services are on site, teachers know where to go to get help for a child.  They can get it quickly, they are free to teach, and they can be assisted by mechanisms that they can use to deal with that child in class.

 

Mr McNarry: 

Are those specialists, if I can use that term, on site?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

They can be on site, or they can be part of a floating team.  I will you an example from the Belfast Boys’ Model School, where the performance of a young guy who was going towards his O levels went completely down.  He was not attending school, and he showed a lot of very negative behaviour in school.  Our family support worker went in and found that behind that was that his mother was suicidal and he would not leave the house.  In fact, the mother attempted suicide while our worker was there.  We were able to put a lot of support in place for that young guy to get him back into school.

 

Mr McNarry: 

How do you afford that?  Who pays for it?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

The Boys’ Model pays for the family support worker, but we also put funding in to it.

 

The Chairperson: 

The money also comes partly from DSD and the Department of Health.  So, it is a pot of money.

 

Ms L Wilson: 

Yes; it has to be pooled.

 

Mr McNarry: 

I will just pick up on your terminology again.  What does the term “higher levels of localism” mean?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

Children in a school come from the community that that school is in, and different communities have different issues.  We were approached recently by a group of communities in Lisburn.  We have not started talking to them yet, but they have three schools where there are major issues where children simply do not go and where there is significant underachievement.  You have to start with an understanding of what is happening in that community and with those parents as much as with what is happening in those schools.  The solution to that will not be to fix the schools but to get everyone in that community on board with their children’s achievement.

 

Mr McNarry:

Chair, as you know, we are hoping to reopen or revisit what we are calling the Dawn Purvis papers.  Hearing what the ladies are saying, it appears that they have a tremendous bank of expertise and information.  I hope that we will be able to call on Barnardo’s to help us with that inquiry. 

 

You seem to cross over and bring another perspective.  However, it is not one of doom and gloom, which is very helpful.  That is what is encouraging me.

 

Ms L Wilson:

No.  That is important.

 

Mr McNarry:

I hear the sad stories all the time, and you seem to want to do something about it.  However, I am not saying that no one else wants to do something about it.

 

Ms L Wilson:

That is interesting.  I have been interviewed about poverty about five times during the past 24 hours, and that was very much the tone of the interviewers.  I told them that I do not think that we have the luxury of being hopeless and that we have to get something done.

 

Mr McNarry:

I take it that we could call on Barnardo’s to help us with that inquiry.  Maybe the dancing classes could be arranged by then.  [Laughter.]

 

The Chairperson:

We will put that one on the long finger.  It might be helpful to the newer members of the Committee if we revisited the Belfast Boys’ Model School to see that issue in practice.  Any time that previous Committee members went there they were thoroughly impressed.  However, it is not just about being impressed; there are outcomes that are clearly demonstrated as benefits.  I think that that is the key issue.  We could also visit Tullycarnet Primary School.  In conjunction with Barnardo’s, we will perhaps look at putting something together for a visit for members.  That would be helpful.

 

Ms L Wilson:

We have spent quite a lot of time with the Children’s Aid Society, and we plan to visit it again in the next couple of months.  We are also hopeful of bringing the director of the society, Jane Quinn, and her team here in May or at the beginning of the summer, and we will want to run a number of seminars with them.  We cannot always look to the States, but they have gathered experience of what not to do as well as of what to do.

 

Mr McKay:

You said that there is a programme that deals with Traveller children.  The Committee should also look at that.  I do not think that we have really —

 

The Chairperson:

Sorry, say that again Daithí.  On what?

 

Mr McKay:

Traveller children.

 

The Chairperson:

Yes.  OK.

 

Mr McKay:

We should perhaps try to tie that into the visit.  That would be useful.

 

My question is about how the Department will fund this scheme.  I am trying to get my head around where it fits; that is the ultimate question.  I am fully supportive of it.  I do not think that there is enough of the kind of thinking in government that you sometimes need to take a short-term hit for longer-term gains.  I think that all the Departments need to work on that.  How were the US schemes and the other international examples funded? 

 

We looked earlier at the common funding scheme (CFS) and the proposals for it.  In his statement in September, John O’Dowd said:

“I do not believe that the current system sufficiently takes account of TSN in our drive for sustainable schools.” — [Official Report, Vol 66, No5, p262, col 1].

That is something that he has flagged up in the proposals for the CFS.  I wonder whether there is an opening there.  Ultimately, you want that funding to be allocated, ring-fenced and secured.  What is your vision?  Should there be a central fund, or should it be allocated through a mechanism such as the common funding scheme?

 

Ms L Wilson: 

Was your first question about where they got the money from in America?

 

Mr McKay:

Yes.

 

Ms L Wilson:

They stitched it together through government initiatives at a number of levels.  Quite a lot of it was philanthropic.  Again, that is where a technical assistance organisation can help to put schools together.  So, that situation always makes things fairly precarious. 

 

The ideal situation, and I may be over-optimistic about this, would be to see some kind of cross-departmental funding.  I know, for example, that when we have the conversation with the people in Lisburn, we will be assisting them to look at something like the social investment fund.  I think that this has to be an innovative collaboration from the highest investment policy level right down to the delivery level.  Rather than being a pilot, it has to be a shared collaborative initiative and a shared strategy with hard outcomes for all those Departments.  I think that that is the important thing. 

 

I attend the child poverty forum with OFMDFM, and my colleagues sometimes look at me because I say that the Department should be holding people like us accountable for results and return on investment and not outputs, which is what they hold us accountable for at the moment. 

 

Mr McKay: 

Does this work for schools that are mainly in urban as opposed to rural areas? 

 

Ms L Wilson:

It has to go right across.  We are looking at Strabane and around Craigavon at the moment, and there is potential there.  It is different, and that is where the localism comes in. 

 

The Chairperson: 

My concern, which crosses a lot of these things, is that, unless there is a policy foundation, it is left up to the schools’ leadership.  If part of the problem is the leadership in the schools, a very good and valuable resource is not utilised and put in place, and the decline continues.  That is what worries me at the minute.  I commend this work, and I think that it is a good example of what needs to be done, because the reality is that it is a reflection of the society that we now live in.  Schools are now in a different society than they were 30 years ago, so there are different needs.  The school has to reflect that and change to try and deal with it.  If the policy is not being encouraged and set out, schools may decide that they may or may not do it, and other factors will come in, such as whether they can afford it. 

 

I think that we should work with you in looking at some of these schemes so that we can get the Committee more informed.  I also think that, if the Committee is agreeable, we should ask the Research and Information Service to do a paper for us that looks at the models that have emanated from that in America.  I am sure that Julie can be helpful in that regard.  We can also look at what else other programmes, if they are there, are doing on this particular issue and how they affect outcomes and change.  So, Lynda, thank you very much. 

 

Mr McNarry: 

Can I ask one more question?  I need to get my head around exactly what Barnardo’s role is.  I know what you stand for, what your criteria are and how well intentioned you are, but in my experience in life, nobody does anything for nothing.  Is this a product that you want to sell?  You are driving at them, and that is commendable, but what do you want out of it? 

 

Ms L Wilson: 

Our purpose is to promote positive outcomes for children in the most disadvantaged communities, and that operates across achievement, well-being and their realising their potential to become young citizens.  Those three things are really my job, and I am supposed to deliver them in Northern Ireland. 

 

Mr McNarry:

I am sorry to interrupt you.  Are you delivering it to pass it on, or do you want to hold on to it and have some control over it or whatever?

 

Ms L Wilson:

A bit of both.  We believe we know what works.  In fact, we are very confident that we know what works, and we think that we are an organisation that can make it work.  We will probably take more of our work into the schools arena in the long term; that is part of our longer-term strategy.  As I said, we are putting in half a million pounds here at the moment.  I intend to increase that, and, if I can lever or broker in more funding from any source to do that, I will.  So, it is a bit mission led and strongly effectiveness led.  We want to do things that work, and we want to be effective and sustainable and to survive as an organisation. 

 

We cannot do all this work.  If we went into schools as a technical, assisting, co-ordinating-type body, we would bring in other organisations.  In fact, we are in schools where we bring in parents’ advice, the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because we do not have expertise in everything.  So, our role is to not only deliver some programmes but co-ordinate, bring in and demonstrate so that other people can work it themselves. 

 

The Chairperson:

Is it not also the case, Lynda, that Barnardo’s has changed to reflect the needs in society as well?  I recall that, in my constituency in the past, Barnardo’s had a home in Ballycastle.  It is no longer there, but Barnardo’s has a very strong presence in trying to deal with the same problems.  The problems have probably not changed, but the context in which you address them has changed.  It might be better to try to address them in the school so that you do not end up trying to do so in an institutionalised form and fashion, which is the way that we used to have to do, unfortunately, in Ballycastle.

 

Ms L Wilson:

We have shifted from rescuing people to seeing whether we can intervene early and prevent trouble, and to seeing whether we can enable communities to do a lot for themselves before it gets too bad. 

 

The Chairperson:

OK.  Thank you very much, Lynda, Julie and Anne.  No doubt we will be in touch.

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