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

Two members of the Harbour Programme Team (an Educational Psychologist, and Harbour Practitioner) will meet with parents or carers at home to discuss the child’s strengths, needs, developmental history and what they are noticing about the child now. Parents know that the Formulation meeting is taking place, and their voice is shared during the meeting, however they do not attend. The outcomes and strategies from the Formulation Meeting are shared with parents by the child’s school.

School Information

A member of The Harbour team will meet with key members of the child’s school. As well as the school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), they may also talk to class teachers or teaching assistants supporting the child. This will also involve completing a Thrive Assessment.

Child’s Views

A member of The Harbour Programme team will observe the child in school for around 30 – 45 minutes and discuss information gained with school staff. Noticing how the child acts, what they say and what they might be thinking or feeling in different context help to provide the child’s view. Updated One Page Profiles, using visual or practical resources, getting children to take photographs or draw pictures can also support to gain their views.

Formulation Meetings

Key members of school staff, who support the child, attend the Formulation Meeting along with members of The Harbour Team. This usually involved 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 our Thrive Practitioners, an Educational Psychologist and our CAMHS Family Therapists.

The meeting is about gaining a collaborative, shared understanding of a child and thinking together in a solution focussed 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 by the child’s home school.

Formulation Reviews

Every 6-8 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 the reviews is to reflect on what is working, what we are noticing and what is next. It has the same collaborative, solution focussed ‘feel’ to the Formulation Meeting. The outcomes and strategies from the Formulation Meeting will be shared with parents by the child’s home school.