Becoming an Education Welfare Officer
Education welfare officers, who maybe trained social workers, are primarily concerned with the attendance of children at school. Most countries have laws that require children to take part in full or part-time education between certain ages, and education welfare officers ensure that these laws are obeyed.
Education welfare officers in some countries are trained social workers employed in an education social services department. In others, they are administrators within an education department.
Their concern is to help those children of school-going age who, for some reason, do not regularly attend school. The work is suitable for those who prefer an office environment, since it is important that officers enjoy being out and about in the community, liaising with parents, teachers, children, and other professionals.
Education welfare officers are usually responsible for a number of schools in a particular geographical area. Sometimes the responsibility for a group of schools will be shared between members of a group of education welfare officers.
It is work that requires sensitivity and tact, since education welfare officers often deal with children with behavioral problems or with parents who are not supportive of the educational experiences of their children. In order to resolve a dispute that may have arisen between parents and the school, education welfare officers may find themselves dealing with people’s attitudes, concerns, educational needs, psychological problems, fears, and anxieties. An insight into people’s motivations and problems and a sympathetic yet firm manner are, therefore, important attributes.
Officers employed in local authority departments are responsible for education or social services. They act on information by schools about pupil’s lack of attendance. They are sometimes notified by the police of children who have committed crimes or acts of vandalism during school hours, or there may be complaints from neighbors about children who are not attending school.
There are many reasons why pupils maybe absent from school and education welfare officers need to establish what these are by visiting parents and consulting teachers. Some cases are referred to social workers for further assessment, and case meetings of everybody involved may be called to decide the best action to take.
Some parents prefer to educate their children at home, and an assessment has to be made about whether the education they would receive is adequate and suitable to those children’s needs.
Education welfare officers are also concerned with cases where children are excluded from a school for some legitimate reason. Arrangements have to be made far their welfare. These may include appointments with educational psychologists, teachers of children with special needs, or referral to hospitals or clinics. Whatever the outcome, education welfare officers see each case through from the beginning to a satisfactory conclusion.
T raining is largely on the job. Trainees work with experienced officers until they gain a detailed understanding of the types of problems that arise and how these are best handled.
They also get to know the key people involved – police, teachers, social workers, and psychologists and the details of their roles. They must gain a thorough understanding of the law as it relates to the education of schoolchildren.
Some become qualified social workers. This involves gaining experience by working in at least one area of the social services and taking an academic course of study. Courses offer the opportunity to specialize in social work that involves one type of client. Education welfare officers can study those options relevant to their area of work.
Useful Qualifications to Have:
Useful subjects include: English.
The base salary range of an Education Welfare Officer ranges from $35,000 to $60,000 annually, while the median salary for most Education Welfare Officers is $52,000 annually. (US Base Pay)
The number of opportunities to become an education welfare officer are few and do not vary much from year to year. A decline or increase in the number of schools in a particular area has a more significant impact on career opportunities than economic cycles.
Experienced officers may become managers of teams of education welfare officers. Alternatively, where they are seen as administrators, they may take career routes into other areas of local authority administration. Those who are qualified social workers may progress their career routes into some other area of the social services or as an administrator within a social services department.
For further information, contact government and local education departments. In some countries, information is available from professional bodies representing social workers.