Help for local families as children head back to school

Published: Friday, September 1, 2023

  • Parents reminded about package of support for families in Wandsworth. 
  • Help provided with food and uniforms, plus measures to protect health & wellbeing. 
  • Part of council’s work to help families through Cost of Living crisis. 

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As children prepare to return to school after the summer holidays, parents are reminded about all the support on offer to help make it as fun and stress-free as possible. 

The council will this year again be providing free school uniforms for children moving into Reception or Year 7, with around a thousand vouchers issued ready for the start of term. Most eligible families were contacted before the start of term, but email if you have any questions.

All children at Key Stage 2 (ages seven and eight to 11) will get free school meals from this term, funded by the Mayor of London. Around 28 per cent of Wandsworth school children are entitled to free school meals but around a thousand families may be eligible but not claiming. All families in Wandsworth are encouraged to see if they qualify for free school meals - claiming them can unlock other benefits, including free school holiday activities and holiday food vouchers. Check information on free school meals.  

A new Schools Food Strategy will also come into force to ensure children can access hot food made from seasonable and sustainable produce. Twenty schools also provide free hot breakfasts. Find out more on the Schools Food Strategy.  

The roll-out of School Streets will continue so that children can travel safely to and from school. School Streets prevent motor traffic from travelling along streets outside school entrances at pick-up and drop-off time. The aim is to introduce them at half of all borough primary schools by 2025. 

Parents at Riversdale and Smallwood schools can comment now on whether they think their new School Streets should be kept, amended or withdrawn. Parents can also comment on amended schemes at St Michael’s and Swaffield Primary School. Find out more about consultations and phases. 

The council is working with Early Years providers including nursery schools to get the borough’s most vulnerable two year olds engaged in early education and to target any additional needs very young children may have. Find out more about Early Years Help.

Wandsworth has a wide range of excellent schools, with more than 96 per cent rated good or outstanding, but children cannot benefit if they do not attend. The council’s Education Welfare Service is there to give parents any support they may need to make sure their children attend school regularly and on time. Read more about support from the Education Welfare Service

There is a wide range of different services to support young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health, including counselling within schools and therapy for anxiety and depression. The Wandsworth Autism Advisory Service (WAAS) includes a clinical team jointly funded with the NHS, while the new borough-wide Dramatherapy provision is highly recommended by many parents/carers of children with autism.

Kooth also provides an anonymous digital mental health service for young people in Wandsworth between the ages of 10-25. Kooth have qualified counsellors, therapists and support workers who provide guided, outcome-focused help. Children and young people can visit Kooth’s website to chat to professional counsellors, read articles written by young people, receive peer-to-peer support and keep a daily journal. 

With children back at school, parents can focus on their own personal and professional development. Find out about a wide range of courses offered by our Life Long Learning team

Kate Stock, cabinet member for children, said: “We hope you had a fabulous summer and are back at school happy and ready to learn. We know it’s been a difficult few years – first with children stuck at home during the pandemic, and then struggling to make ends meet through the Cost of Living crisis – and we’re really proud of our excellent schools, and grateful for the hard work of staff and students. 

“We want to help by doing all we can to support children to attend regularly and safely, give families financial support, and provide the hot, nutritious food children need to grow and learn. Please find out about the wide range of support available and reach out for help if you need it.”