Peer pressure, drug abuse and financial problems are just some of the reasons why students may fail to attend school regularly. When this happens, educational welfare officers often step in to establish the reason for truancy and help them get back to school. Read on to learn more about this profession and know how you can join it.
See Also: How to Become a Learning Mentor
1. What Do Education Welfare Officers Do?
Their duties include:
- Establishing the reasons behind a child’s failure to attend school – This involves holding meetings with the child’s parents
- Helping parents to solve family problems that could affect their children’s education – This involves referring them to social care agencies and other support service providers
- Counseling parents about their legal responsibility to educate their children
- Taking legal action against parents who fail to take their children to schools
- Helping parents to develop closer relationships with schools
- Ensuring children with special needs receive appropriate services from their schools
- Ensuring minors who work after schools hours do so in compliance with relevant regulations
2. Work Environment
Although education welfare officers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, they often visit parents in the evenings and weekends.
When the offices are not in an office reviewing student attendance reports, you can find them on the road visiting pupils’ schools or homes.
According to the National Careers Service, the starting salary for education welfare officers in the UK is £22,000. In time, it can rise to over £35,000.
4. Entry Requirements
To get started as an education welfare officer, you need a bachelor’s degree in social welfare, community education, human services or social work. Some of the institutions offering the relevant degrees include:
- University of Worcester, Worcester
- University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh
- The Open University, Milton Keynes
Once you graduate, you can volunteer in youth or community centers to gain experience working with young people and their families. For volunteering opportunities, visit Volunteering Matters.
Remember, you need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service to work with young people.
If you are currently working as a teacher, you stand a good chance of becoming an education welfare officer since welfare officers with teaching experience are highly sought-after.
5. Important Qualities
To be a competent education welfare officer, you need:
- Exceptional listening skills
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Empathy and emotional skills to avoid getting carried away by pupils in terrible family situations
- Computer skills
- Analytical skills
- Decision-making skills to determine the best cause of action for various truancy cases
- An understanding of child protection laws
- Report-wring skills
- Skills in information acquisition
- Teamwork and networking skills
- An understanding of family problems such as divorce
- Skills in relationship building
6. Career Advancement
Early in your career, you will start as an assistant education welfare officer. After receiving sufficient training from your employer and gaining more work experience, you will advance to the position of education welfare officer.
After that, you can join a relevant professional body, such as the British Association of Social Workers to network with other professionals in the field and access professional development resources such as publications.
You can also supplement your training with a postgraduate diploma in social work, like the one offered by the University of Strathclyde.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of education welfare officers include:
- Social services agencies
- Primary and secondary schools
- Education advocacy networks
- Local authorities
With vast experience, you could progress to become a team leader and later on an education welfare services manager. It is also possible to move into probation services or related careers.
Finally, the National Career Services categorizes this profession under the health support services field, which will create about 33,000 new jobs within the next five years.
So if you aspire to help young people pursue and successfully complete their studies, then you should become an education welfare officer.