Home School Community Liaison Scheme
"It is clear from the Irish experience that educational initiatives based in schools can raise the educational level of the adults involved, and result in a general sense of empowerment in the local community. Parental involvement, especially in areas of socio-economic deprivation, does not just benefit the children and the school - it is a crucial aspect of lifelong learning" (Parents as Partners in Schooling, OECD 1997)
The HSCL Scheme is a preventative strategy, targeted at pupils who are at risk of not reaching their potential in the education system, due to circumstances in their background which tend to adversely affect pupil attainment and school retention. It focuses directly on the salient adults in children's lives, in order that they may be better able to support the children’s attendance, participation and retention in the education system. The Scheme seeks to promote partnership between families and schools, bring parents closer to their children’s learning and build parents capacity, so that they are enabled to support and contribute to children’s successful experience in the education system.
HSCL Coordinators are teachers who receive 4 days induction training upon appointment to the HSCL position; during this training all aspects of educational disadvantage are explained, explored and clear targeting criteria are outlined. In addition to this, the Senior Management Team, Tusla, liaises directly with schools and HSCL cluster groups to ensure that there is consistency of approach to and clarity around the importance of targeting and ensuring that there are clear educational outcomes to initiatives undertaken as part of the HSCL remit. The HSCL Coordinator and school, jointly select and implement initiatives which are agreed to be most appropriate for a specific school or area.
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is ongoing for all HSCL Coordinators and practitioners deliver high quality best practice modules, both at national and local level. As part of the school staff, HSCL Coordinators also receive training in relation to Child Protection, Special Educational Needs, etc. HSCL Coordinators must also undertake CPD in their subject areas, in order to facilitate their efficient return to the classroom after five years in post. In addition to this, a process of measurement, in terms of performance indicators, is being undertaken, with a view to ensuring clear accountabilities, outcomes and appropriate targets that reflect both the quantitative and qualitative nature of the HSCL Scheme.
In relation to targeting young children at risk, supporting and upskilling teachers in recognising indicators and having strong awareness is key. Children at risk of Early School Leaving are identified in consultation with School Management, where factors, such as those listed below, are taken into consideration:
- Socio- economic background
- Family history of ESL
- Single parent family
- Traveller family
- Poor attendance
The target list is monitored on an on-going basis and more children are identified as issues emerge throughout the year. HSCL Coordinators are qualified and experienced teachers, and as such, are well versed in recognising indicators and have a strong awareness of the issues facing educationally disadvantaged children and their families.
 “Irish Travellers are an indigenous minority who, according to historical evidence, have been part of Irish society for centuries. They have a long shared history, value system, language customs and traditions that make them a group recognised by themselves and others as distinct. This distinctive life-style and culture, based on a nomadic tradition, sets them apart from the settled population” (Extract from “Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy” published in 2006).