Illnesses are never planned. They happen without warning and can catch parents, teachers, social workers and other professionals off guard. At a time like that, it is essential that all professionals and agencies work together to ensure education, health and social care outcomes are aligned for the benefit of the child. This type of multi-agency partnership working is something Ellern Mede School excels in. From regular contact, to regular multi-disciplinary meetings, to applying for statutory assessment for an EHCP, our role supports the ultimate aim of reintegration of the child back into their life.
At Ellern Mede School, a highly specialist therapeutic educational team works closely with the multi-disciplinary medical and mental health resources of the Ellern Mede children’s specialist services.
Academic staff cover a broad curriculum which includes English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Music, Drama, Spanish, French and German. An Inclusion Lead supervises student engagement, assessment and identifies future learning pathways.
On the therapeutic side, the team has access to Ellern Mede’s resources of psychiatry, clinical psychology, specialist doctors including doctors trained in General Practice and family medicine, dietetics, social workers, registered mental health nurses, occupational therapy, family therapy, art therapy, independent advocacy, and therapeutic activity coordinators.
Professional relationships extend to working with parents, home school teachers, hospital or community teams, and other stakeholders within a wide range of local authorities and independent organisations.
To quote Government guidance, “Local Authorities (LAs) are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education..[for children and young people] who, because of illness or other reasons, would not receive a suitable education without such provision.”
This means that where a child cannot attend school because of health problems, and would not otherwise receive a suitable full-time education, the LA is responsible for arranging provision. This means provision of “as much education as the child’s health condition allows, for children of compulsory school age who, because of illness, would otherwise not receive suitable education.” This should be provided as soon as it is clear that the child will be away from school for 15 days or more.
Children who face disruption to their education through illness or who end up dropping out of school early, are at significant risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) later in life. Source: Children Missing Education (September 2016).
Office of National Statistics (ONS) research indicates 13% to 20% of children of school age are diagnosed with a mental health illness. Young people who have illness-related school absence need short-term, flexible, therapeutic educational support.
Ellern Mede School historically met the needs of Ellern Mede hospital inpatients – people with eating disorders.
Now Ellern Mede School has expanded its offering to meet the needs of young people who will benefit from its therapeutic, flexible educational support during a time when they are receiving medical care and finding it difficult to attend their usual school.
Every child is individual. We draw up a personalised programme of learning which takes into account personal issues and barriers to learning. The objective is to return the young person to mainstream education at an appropriate time but with a support package to ensure they reintegrate.
The Ellern Mede School staff team are expert in supporting children with a wide range of difficulties from entrenched eating disorders and related mental health difficulties to self-harm and suicidal ideation. With support and management, respect and boundaries, we find we are successful in creating an environment in which children do behave well and can concentrate on their learning.
To support learning, Ellern Mede School’s consultant educational psychologist may conduct an Educational Psychological Assessment. This provides essential information for teachers, special educational needs teams and parents to identify barriers to learning and to inform strategies to overcome these obstacles.
When a young person becomes ill with a diagnosed mental illness, decline may be rapid. The child may become isolated and exhibit increasingly alarming behaviour. Parents and teachers see the signs and seek help initially through school departments such as Special Educational Needs or Inclusion Leads. In turn, they may be referred to an educational psychologist or a local Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team.
At Ellern Mede School we can integrate education, health and social care. After a child has received both education and health support at Ellern Mede School, we often find that there is a need, not only for good communication with all agencies involved, but a more formal arrangement, such as applying for the Educational Health and Social Care Plans (EHCP), which will offer a team around the young person, and support through to age 25 in the community.
The EHCP is a useful methodology to link health, education and social care after a young person leaves inpatient healthcare or short-term alternative education. It is applied for through the home local authority. It is completed in partnership with parents, home school, educational psychologist and any clinical team involved in care. It provides a holistic and structured overview of the young person’s needs. It also provides additional support in future years if the medical situation endures. It is revised annually until the young person reaches age 25.
Ellern Mede School has an excellent track record of successfully applying for EHC plans and working in close partnership with local authorities to ensure that children and young people feel fully supported through, and beyond, traumatic periods in their life.
During their time at Ellern Mede School every student has a key teacher. The role of the key teacher includes:
When the young person reintegrates into their home school, a fully planned programme of reintegration is planned and delivered. This may involve a number of visits to the home school, the provision by Ellern Mede School of a detailed reintegration plan supported by communication between ourselves and the home school in the future. We work with the staff of the home school to prepare them for how to manage the child’s disorders or difficulties in the school setting.
Together, the Ellern Mede clinical and educational teams have a strong national and international reputation for their work in supporting and working with children and young people suffering from mental illnesses such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, depression and anxiety. These young people achieve progress clinically, physically and mentally and in their educational achievement because of this partnership.
Ellern Mede Services offer specialist eating disorders care across four sites – inpatient and outpatient care at Ellern Mede Ridgeway and Ellern Mede Barnet, and outpatient care in central London in Harley Street and Wimpole Street clinics.
Ellern Mede’s clinical approach involves both physical medical care and mental health care. We approach an eating disorder through both its physical and cognitive aspects. An important first goal of treatment is to establish a therapeutic alliance and an agreed plan of care.
The clinical team comprises psychiatrists, specialist doctors, clinical psychologists, assistant psychologists, social workers, family therapists, registered mental health nurses, occupational therapists, dieticians, and healthcare assistants.
Ellern Mede hospitals’ teams are skilled in providing psychiatry, physical healthcare, dietetics, occupational therapy, family therapy and a range of psychological interventions including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy.