Ebony is a Year 10 student who attends her local secondary school. Her parents own a small business that was impacted by COVID restrictions and they have experienced significant financial pressure and family discord in the past year.
Ebony’s mother has required support due to alcohol dependency. Ebony has had to take on the care of her two younger siblings while her mother has been unwell and her father has worked long hours. She also works two shifts a week at the local supermarket. Ebony has a close group of friends but has really missed being able to see them during lockdown periods.
Ebony’s father contacted her school’s Wellbeing Leader at the beginning of the year to let them know that he and Ebony’s mother had separated over the summer holidays. He told them that the parents take it in turns living in the family home for a week at a time so the children don’t have to move between houses.
Ebony has found her parent’s separation, the family’s financial pressures and her mother’s illness very difficult to manage. Although it is less stressful to stay in the one home Ebony finds it hard to juggle family pressures, her job and school. She is expected to help her parents a lot around the house and has had to support her siblings during periods of remote learning. Her teachers have noticed her grades are lower than expected in Year 10.
Ebony tries hard to put on a brave face at school but reports she is overwhelmed by the demands placed on her and feels very sad when she is at home. The school counsellor meets with Ebony once a fortnight to provide support around managing her schoolwork and coping with her current situation. Ebony has responded well to the sessions and has been using the strategies she is learning to help navigate what she describes as ‘the sad times’.
Ebony’s teachers have responded by reducing the amount of work she is required to complete and providing extensions if Ebony feels like she will not be able to meet a deadline. They keep in touch with her parents by email and through parent–teacher interviews, which have been held via videoconference over the past 12 months.
The school also contacted their local community support organisation to provide support for the family given the mother’s illness and the requirement for Ebony to support her siblings when their father is at work.
Ebony has recently been worried about how she will cope with the pressures of school next year so she has met twice with the Careers Advisor who has been providing support in relation to subject selection for Year 11.
The school will continue to monitor Ebony and maintain communication with her parents about the support she might need as she prepares to move into Year 11.