Applying behavioural science to promoting uptake of family hubs services - Wakefield project


The Wakefield project focused on evaluating a new communications strategy to advertise both ‘Team Around the School’ (TAS) support and family hub services. The communications strategy was designed by Wakefield Council and already in the process of being implemented at the beginning of the project. The strategy was designed for implementation by schools, who were supported in phased release of specific information and the provision of content to embed in school websites. Qualitative interviews were conducted with parents of children attending the schools where the new communications strategy was piloted (n = 7) and parents of children attending comparison schools which were not implementing the new communications strategy (n = 5). Interviews were also conducted with staff responsible for implementing the strategy in the pilot schools (n = 3). Parent interviews elicited barriers and facilitators to accessing TAS and family hub support to enable comparison of general awareness of the services in the parents recruited from the pilot vs. non-pilot schools. Staff interviews elicited staff experiences of implementing the strategy, and their perceptions of the strategy and its effectiveness. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to a thematic framework analysis using the TDF to identify barriers and facilitators. Findings indicated that generally, parents from the pilot schools appeared to have greater awareness than those from non-pilot schools that their child’s school could be a source of support for difficulties with their child. This suggests that the new communications strategy had a positive effect on knowledge of available support. Staff member reports also chimed with this – staff felt that the communications strategy had helped raise awareness of family support services. Findings also highlighted that despite the communications strategy, parents may not understand or remember jargon or details about how different services fit together. Barriers to accessing support when needed included negative emotions around needing support, and fear of social services’ involvement. These powerful factors are unlikely to be adequately addressed via communications alone and would require supportive conversations with trusted persons. Recommendations include simplifying the ‘call to action’ element of the communications strategy, and considering how trusting relationships can be built with families in advance of support being needed, such that accessing support at the point of need is facilitated.

Keywords: family hubs; parents; schools; interviews; thematic analysis;
Academic units: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) > Academic Departments > Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics
Funder NameGrant NumberFunder ID
Department for EducationDFERPPU/21-22/009
Copyright Holders: Sheffield Hallam University
Publisher of the data: SHU Research Data Archive (SHURDA)
Publication date: 25 November 2022
Data last accessed: No data downloaded yet
Reason(s) for restriction and conditions for access: Data to be shared upon reasonable request as specified in the data management plan and participant information sheets.





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