Frequently Asked Questions

about the Jigsaw Families® Programme

FAQ's Index

Choose FAQ's for Schools/SettingsParents & Carers

FAQ's for Schools/Settings

Over the course of 6 sessions, families discuss topics including; belonging, choices and consequences, positive language and communication skills, nurture, attachment and managing change. Messages are delivered in an accessible and emotionally safe way through audio stories.
Jigsaw Families sessions have an audio story as a central focus. The learning for families is drawn from each story and both adults and children can engage with the ‘messages’ at their own level of understanding. Positive relationships are central to the Jigsaw Families programme, so sessions involve parents/carers working with their children. There is also a unique ‘home learning’ element which takes the learning back to the family home and involves other family members. Easily downloadable audio and video resources ensure the programme is accessible to those with limited literacy skills.
Although similar in principle, the Jigsaw Families Programme improves on Family SEAL in the following ways:

  • Resources are up-to-date and designed with today's families in mind
  • Jigsaw Families sessions involve the parent/carer and child working together (not all Family SEAL programmes offer this)
  • A unique approach using audio story as the learning medium which also supports family literacy
  • Downloadable home learning elements that reinforce the learning from each session and offers opportunities for the whole family to work together using easy and enjoyable activities
  • Ongoing mentoring and quality assurance so that school/setting Facilitators are trained, confident and supported to deliver high-quality family sessions

No, there are two sets of materials, 3-5 years and primary. This gives schools and settings the option to run sessions for families with children in early years and also for families with children in the primary phase.
A setting can become involved with Jigsaw Families without using Jigsaw PSHE, and the programme will still be effective. There are natural links between Jigsaw PSHE and Jigsaw Families, and they are written with the same philosophical/educational intentions and designed to be complimentary. Therefore, there are benefits to using both programmes simultaneously. For this reason, if a setting is using Jigsaw PSHE they may purchase Jigsaw Families at a reduced cost, conversely, schools/settings purchasing Jigsaw Families will be offered Jigsaw PSHE at a discounted price.
Schools and settings know the families they work with best. Therefore, the Jigsaw Families sessions will be run by trained Facilitators from your own staff. Training for three Facilitators is included in the Jigsaw Families starter kit. Facilitators do not need to be teachers. Other members of your school community could be trained to run sessions such as TAs, HLTAs, family support workers, parent liaison staff, governors etc.
The sessions are written to last between 1.5 to 2 hours. The same Family Pairs attend all 6 sessions. There is an optional 7th session for adults only that can be held as a catch-up or celebration if desired.
The optimum number for a session is 10 Family Pairs. A Family Pair is one child and a significant parent/carer figure. The same pair attend the complete Families Programme of 6 sessions. A School/Setting can run as many Programmes as wanted/needed within a calendar year.
Other children and adult family members can be included in the Programme through the ‘home learning’ activities. However, parents/carers are free to repeat the Programme with another child if desired.
All session resources are contained in the Jigsaw Families Facilitator Manuals and/or on the Jigsaw Families website. Settings need two rooms available, one with an internet connection/whiteboard/projector. Where consumable items are needed in a session, such as crafting materials, these are listed in the Facilitator Manual so they can be prepared in advance. The majority of materials will be items that the setting already has in stock. Some settings like to provide refreshments for the attending families. For each “Family Pair” attending, the setting will need to purchase Jonty Juniors from the Jigsaw Families shop. A Jonty Junior is given to each family attending to take home and keep. Note: Your Starter Kit will include 10 Jonty Juniors to get you started with your first Programme.
Schools and Settings are free to hold sessions at a time appropriate to their timetable. Schools often run sessions from after lunch until ‘home-time’.
The Programme has been trialled in a variety of settings with different ICT capabilities and we have attempted to cover as many variations as possible. We provide different versions of the audio and video formats/technologies on the Jigsaw Families website. There is also the option to download materials prior to each session rather than stream from the live-site on the day. If a setting has continual issues, they should report to their Jigsaw Families Mentor to help get the problem resolved.
The Jigsaw Families Programme philosophy advocates that Settings and schools offer the programme universally so any family can benefit from attending. This also reduces the stigma that can be associated with some parenting programmes, so encouraging more vulnerable families to attend.
Each session has a similar structure. Families begin with a ‘Connect Us’ game which acts as a warm-up activity. This is followed by a mindfulness activity (Calm Me) and then an audio story is shared. The adults and children then separate into two groups and discuss the messages arising in the story. Children usually complete a craft activity producing an object that relates to the story and adults watch a specially recorded video that provides some of the ‘parenting tips’ in an interesting and non-patronising way. At the end of the session children and adults regroup and share what they have been doing. Family Pairs are given a learning activity (a Jonty Challenge) to do at home.
The home learning activities follow a similar structure from week to week so that families become familiar with the expectations of the Programme. Families either continue listening to the story and/or are encouraged to listen to the story again and discuss it.

There is also a practice Calm Me time for them to do. Both the story and Calm Me are audio recorded and easily accessible on mobile phones, computers and tablet devices.

There is also a suggested task that relates to the central theme in the story. E.g. negotiating and agreeing to spend some quality time together that week. Each Family Pair keep their Jonty Junior Friend (which they receive in session one). The Friend is used as a discussion tool and is integral to the programme and some of the home learning activities. Jonty is also the ‘advice-giving’ character in every story.

Facilitators are equipped to lead the sessions as part of their initial training. This includes dealing with ‘potentially awkward’ situations that could occur. The sessions are structured so that adults (and children) are ‘distanced’ from the issues being discussed through the story and subsequent activities.

Feedback from parents/carers consistently shows that they find it easier to engage than they may have first thought. Many groups have continued to meet in their own time after the Programme ends due to the ‘bond’ they forged. Sessions also use the Jigsaw Charter (Ground Rules) that emphasises that nobody has to share views unless they want to.

In an ideal world, the same adult and child will attend all 6 sessions. However, there may be circumstances where one of the family pairs misses a week. We would encourage settings to discuss attendance with the parents/carers in advance, and if there is going to be the odd missed week then to at least try to keep the experience consistent for the child involved, perhaps by bringing along a different significant adult for that week. The programme becomes less effective if families miss too many weeks. In this case, it may be better to invite them back to start the programme again on a different occasion.
After three trial periods, spread over two years in a range of schools and settings, Jonty Junior has been shown to be a significant and vital component of the programme, enabling it to be effective. It is therefore essential that each Family Pair receive and keep their own Jonty Junior. To mitigate costs, some Settings have raised funds through the PTA, by approaching local groups such as Lions, Rotary or applied for Awards For All funding. We have kept the cost of Jonty Juniors to a minimum to make them as affordable as possible without compromising safety or quality.
Although only two Facilitators are required to run the sessions, experience has shown that having a third Facilitator is helpful to cover unexpected absences. Additional Facilitators can be trained to maximise the number of sessions a setting/school can offer (at an additional cost). These additional Facilitators can be trained at the same time as the initial three, or at a later date.
If this should happen, settings/schools need to identify a replacement Facilitator and book them onto some initial training. This would also be picked up in the annual re-accreditation process to ensure you have enough trained and accredited staff to continue running the Programme. There is an additional cost for training ‘new’ or additional Facilitators.
To keep the Programme consistent for families and children it is important that there are as few disruptions as possible. In the Jigsaw Families trials, where there were only 2 facilitators trained, gaps in the programme were more common due to staff illness and other priorities. It was therefore decided that all Settings should have three Facilitators trained as a minimum to run the programme effectively. Facilitators do not have to be teaching staff, so other members of your school community such as TAs, HLTAs, governors, family link workers etc can be trained.
Each School/Setting running the Jigsaw Families Programme will be allocated a Jigsaw Families mentor who is the ‘go-to’ person with any questions, queries or issues. Your mentor will keep in touch with you to provide support. The mentor will also be the key person involved in the annual re-accreditation process.
Schools/Settings using the Jigsaw Families Programme will potentially support vulnerable families. To ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the programme is maintained, a quality assurance process has been built into Jigsaw Families via a re-accreditation process.

Facilitators are key to the effectiveness of the Programme so the accreditation process has been set up to ensure that Facilitators in each setting are trained and confident in their role. The re-accreditation process has been kept as simple and time efficient as possible. The Lead Facilitator will complete a simple online data form which asks for information such as the numbers of families worked with. Then each Facilitator will have a short conversation with their Jigsaw Families mentor to discuss how the programme went from their perspective. Occassionally, the mentor may request a visit to the setting. There is an annual re-accreditation charge to cover the cost of the Jigsaw mentor’s time. This cost has been kept to a minimum.

We certainly know that Schools/Settings using the Jigsaw Families Programme have reported a range of successful outcomes for the children and families involved and we encourage settings to evaluate their own success regularly.

The format of evaluation is for each School/Setting to decide and options for evaluation are covered at initial training. The outcomes from these evaluations can provide excellent evidence in terms of safeguarding, personal development, behaviour and welfare which all underpin the raising of standards and reducing inequalities.

For Settings where Jigsaw PSHE is not taught, the cost of the Jigsaw Families starter kit is £1800 +VAT and p&p.

For this the setting receives:

  • Training for 3 members of staff to be accredited as Jigsaw Families Facilitators (for one calendar year)
  • 3 Facilitator Manuals
  • Access to the Jigsaw Families website for latest session resources
  • 1x Jigsaw Jonty
  • 1x Set of 10 Jonty Juniors (for Family Pairs to take home)
  • 1x Jigsaw Chime
  • Mentor Support (valid during each whole year of accreditation)

Settings already teaching Jigsaw PSHE are eligible for a £300 discount!

Re-accreditation has been costed at £100 per facilitator +VAT.
Jonty Juniors can be purchased in sets of 10, at a cost of £80 +VAT and p&p
The cost of having an additional Facilitator trained is £175 + VAT
Yes, assuming a Setting runs 6 full Programmes (of 6 sessions), each with 10 Family pairs attending, the annual cost is £2200 in Year 1.

This equates to £36.66 per family, and £6.11 per family per session. If a setting runs more sessions then this cost is further reduced. Costs are also further reduced if a setting is already using Jigsaw PSHE (£1900, £31.66 per family, £5.28 per family per session)

From year 2 onwards, because there is no starter kit needed, the annual cost is £780 per year which equates to £13 per family and £2.17 per family per session. Based on 10 Family Pairs per half term completing the programme.

The only potential additional costs will be for consumables such as crafting materials which you are likely to have available already.

The Jigsaw Families Programme appears to successfully meet Awards for All (Big Lottery) criteria. Schools/Settings may wish to investigate this and submit an application.

We have provided some guidance and sample text that Schools/Settings can adapt for such a bid. Other Schools/Settings have raised fund through PTA, by using Pupil Premium funding, or approached local groups such as Rotary or Lions Clubs.

In the spirit of the Jigsaw Families Programme, and its strong philosophy of inclusivity and reducing inequality, we do not expect settings and schools to charge families to take part.

However, depending on the financial circumstances of the families attending, it may be appropriate for settings/schools to ask for a voluntary contribution towards the Programme, or towards the cost of the Jonty Juniors.

We hope that costs and finances will never act as a barrier to families who are in need of the Programme but cannot afford to contribute.

Schools know their families best and are free to make their own decisions about whether to ask for contributions or not.

Many schools have chosen to fund the Programme through fundraising events or lottery bids and some parents have offered to pay forward, offering contributions toward running future Programmes, or sponsoring a Jonty Junior for another family.

Information is available on the Jigsaw Families website and the Jigsaw PSHE website. In addition, you may telephone our main office number +44(0)1202 377192 to ask any additional questions. You can also request a call with one of the Jigsaw mentor team using this phone number, or email the Jigsaw Families Team directly at

We also run twilight information sessions that you may wish to attend. Details of dates and venues will be posted on the Jigsaw website from time to time.

FAQ's for Parents and Carers

The Jigsaw Families Programme has been designed to bring you and your child together, to forge a closer relationship between you both, and to help you communicate better with each other. It may also give you tips about managing behaviour and challenging situations with your child.
You plus one of your children will need to attend all 6 sessions. Each session is about 1.5 to 2 hours long. There can be about 8 other Family Pairs in the same sessions.

The sessions will be lead by someone who works in the School your child attends or in alternative Settings. Sessions are active and fun. There are times when you will be working with the other adults in the group and the children will have their own group activities.

Every session has an audio (or video) story to discuss with your child and within the group.

There are also some easy home-learning tasks to complete with your child, e.g. listening to the second part of the story (or for the younger children, the whole story again) and discussing how it ends.

You have two options. The home learning tasks have been designed to include other children/adults in your family, so you could do that afterward at home.

Alternatively you could repeat the Programme with another one of your other children at another time. It’s an important aspect of the Jigsaw Families Programme that you create that special one-to-one time with the same child you bring to the sessions.

Sessions cover topics such as feeling we belong, choices and consequences, positive language and managing change positively. The sessions have been designed so they are ‘real and practical’ and not made to preach or to try and make you a ‘perfect parent’ which we all know doesn’t exist!
This is a universal Programme, open for any family to attend and is designed to be useful to all parents with lots of really useful hints and tips.
In every session, we use something called the Jigsaw Charter. This will be explained in the sessions. It means that nobody will be put on the spot and if you don’t want to say anything you don’t have to.

Many parents/carers can feel a little anxious about speaking in front of others at the beginning, but the feedback at the end of the programme proves they found it a lot easier than they had imagined. Indeed, parents often keep in touch afterward due to the trust and friendship they make inside the group.

Ideally, we wouldn’t want you to miss a session. However, if something does crop up, try let your Facilitators know and possibly ask another adult to attend with your child so at least your child can go. There are home learning tasks and you can catch up at that point.

If you were going to miss a number of sessions it might be best to commit to the Programme at a future time.

Most schools/settings do their best offer this Programme for FREE.

However, they may need to ask for voluntary contributions to enable them to run the Programme. As far as possible, schools will endeavor to offer the Programme at no cost to parents.

Jigsaw Jonty Junior FriendEach Family Pair will get a certificate of completion. They also get to keep the Jonty Junior they have been working with. Jonty is a Jigsaw Friend that is featured in the stories and used in the sessions.