A key part of the work we do at The Harbour, is gathering information from parents, the child and school staff around a child’s story. By listening to parents and staff, and from observing children in the school context, we can gain a holistic, shared understanding of the child’s world and what their behaviour might be communicating; this helps us to work in a collaborative way to identify more successful and meaningful strategies to support the child, family and school. This is what we call ‘The Formulation’.

Gathering Information for a Formulation

Parent / Carer Information
Members of The Harbour Programme will meet with parents / carers to discuss their child’s strengths, needs, developmental history and what they are noticing about their child. Parents know that the Formulation Meeting is taking place and that their voice is shared during the meeting, however they do not attend. The outcomes and strategies from the Formulation Meeting are shared with parents / carers by the child’s school.

School Information
A member of The Harbour Programme will meet with key members of the child’s school to gather information. As a minimum, this will be with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and the class teacher. Prior to the Formulation Meeting a Thrive Assessment for the child will be completed and a member of The Harbour team will usually observe the child in their school.

Child’s Views
School staff and parents / carers will be asked to gain the child’s views about what is important to them, their strengths and their needs in both their school and home environment. The Harbour team have a range of resources and suggestions to support with this.

Formulation Meetings

At least two key members of school staff who support the child, attend the Formulation Meeting along with members of The Harbour team. This usually involves the SENCO, Class Teacher and Teaching Assistant. We encourage as many colleagues as possible who work with the child to join us for a Formulation Meeting in our Harbour base. We find that having time out together means we can focus entirely on the child. Other Harbour team members at the meeting might include Thrive Practitioners, Educational Psychologists, a CAMHS Family Therapist and a Sensory Occupational Therapist.

The meeting is about gaining a collaborative, shared understanding of a child and thinking together in a solution-focused way to agree priorities and next steps. The in-depth information that has been gathered is discussed, added to and hypotheses are drawn.

It is an opportunity to have time together for open discussion and reflection about what is going well, what we are noticing and what the current concerns might be. It is a space to think together about the next steps for a child during their Harbour journey.

We have developed a ‘flag’ on which we record all the information we talk about; we find this is a helpful, visual way of understanding the child in the context of their home and school life and supports us to reflect on the factors that could be having an impact on their social and emotional mental health.

By working through the structure on the ‘flag’ we build up a detailed picture which leads to better understanding for those working with the child; often new and creative ideas spring to mind as we talk. We always discuss the next steps and try to be as practical as we can.

The Formulation Meeting is captured by a member of The Harbour Programme, and a formulation document is written and sent to the school after the meeting. The outcomes and strategies from the Formulation Meeting are shared with parents / carers by the child’s home school. 

Formulation Reviews

Every 12-16 weeks, the child will have a Harbour Review. Before this meeting, there is an observation in school and the parent and child views are gathered. The focus of a review is to reflect on what is going well, what we are noticing and what is next. It has the same collaborative, solution-focused ‘feel’ as the Formulation Meeting. The outcomes and strategies from the Formulation Review will be shared with parents / carers by the child’s home school.