How this company is reaching out to Bradford's…

How this company is reaching out to Bradford's most vulnerable children in the pandemic

A BINGLEY firm has completely “changed” its business model during the pandemic in a bid to avoid furloughing staff and make a difference.

BCL Consultancy, based at Cottingley Business Park, is working with 35 schools across Bradford district to help vulnerable families who may be struggling with home schooling in lockdown.

The firm normally works with schools to complete attendance and welfare checks with specialised staff, many of whom are unable to give their last name for protection reasons.

With a number of education experts and ex-police staff, the company is now finding ways for children without internet access to complete their homework by hand and dropping off any worksheets for marking at school.

It is also connecting parents to online services, such as universal credit forms by loaning them iPads or laptops.

BCL Consultancy’s director Ben says there is also a push to maintain some form of routine so that more children find the return to full school days easier.

He warned there is a future risk that his staff will be finding these children fully dressed for school while their parent is asleep upstairs once normal life is resumed.

“We’ve changed what we are doing to support the schools through the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Andrew, director of SEND & Inclusion at BCL Consultancy, told the Telegraph & Argus: “There’s a lot of people that underestimate how hard some of our families have it.

“One of the families I’m in regular contact with is a young man. He’s got significant educational needs and disabilities. He keeps a weekly diary for me. He tells me about some of the fun things he’s been doing, some things he’s struggled with.

“It’s a lot about change. This massive period of change which is affecting the world has a huge knock on effect for him.

“It’s about keeping his mental health as positive as we can and his family’s.

“There’s a friendly voice at the end of the phone but more importantly it’s somebody they already know.

“BCL’s built up a great relationship with a lot of families and it’s about having that trust.”

One of the schools to benefit from BCL’s offering is Queensbury Academy.

The academy’s Esther Waters, member of SLT and attendance lead, said their work has a “real impact”.

She said: “Their knowledgeable, experienced staff have made genuine and positive connections with some of our hardest to reach families.

“Our dedicated attendance officer is Andy. He has established amazing relationships with parents and pupils alike and takes a genuine interest in their well-being.

“In particular, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic this work has continued which has been vital in unprecedented times.”