Mental Health and Behaviour November 2018

This is non-statutory guidance to go alongside the existing guidance on Behaviour and Discipline in Schools (2016) and updates the 2016 version of this guidance.

It is a rather disjointed document which spends much of its space telling schools things that they already know. It is not fully able to encompass the concept of behaviour as communication. There are mixed messages about the need to individualise approaches understanding the link between mental health problems, SEN and additional vulnerabilities and behaviour, while ensuring a consistent approach to behaviour. Also, that simply by identifying a problem a school should be able to manage it. There is recognition that schools are not experts in mental health, but they are expected to manage complex needs. Chapter 4 talks about multi-agency working, but not what to do when these services are not available or won’t pick up the referral. Continue reading

TA deployment in structured and unstructured times

The traditional approach to supporting children with SEND is to focus on lesson times. This is correct in that additional support should be focused on children’s learning which is concentrated in lesson times. However, for many children with social communication issues, high levels of sensory issues, difficulties managing change and high levels of anxiety, including those with ASD, ADHD and attachment issues, this leaves them unsupported at the times of the school day they find most stressful. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye: The Circle of Life and the School Year.

As term ends, like so many teachers, I am saying goodbye to pupils and colleagues. In my case, particularly so, as I am leaving a school I have been working in, on and off, for over 8 years. In this time both the world, in general, and my world, in particular, have changed. Eight years ago, my sons were boys and now they are men.  It was just 8 years ago that the first iPhone was introduced and now they are ubiquitous and Pokémon Go is the way to explore the world.  In education, we have a changed curriculum, a new assessment system and a new SEND system. We have umpteen new OFSTED documents and the safeguarding challenges are growing at a terrifying rate. Continue reading

Inclusion: challenging the language of other.

So many people have spoken of shock, anger and sadness at the pointless death of a mother of two, murdered in broad daylight in a Yorkshire village, that I am not sure there is anything left to say. But I believe we have to stand together and speak up against terrorism. People have paid tribute to Jo Cox and what she stood for and believed in. I didn’t know her, but I find two key messages in her work about inclusion and making the world a better place which match my reasons for entering teaching. Continue reading

Would you ask a teacher to mend a broken leg? Schools and mental health.

One of the government’s many current targets for schools is mental health. This week the BBC’s ‘In the Mind’ week, following on from Children’s Mental Health Week earlier in the month, have focused national attention on mental health, placing an important spotlight on the issue. It promotes the national conversation and is part of the movement to remove the stigma of mental illness. This is a long and slow battle. Not surprisingly, people don’t really understand mental illness, so it is scary. Our fear of cancer is decreasing as we understand more and are more able to treat it. It has become more normalised and less of a death sentence. Mental illness is not there yet. We have moved from the brutality and isolation of the nineteenth and twentieth century asylums, but not out of their shadow. Mental health is unseen. It can affect anyone. How it affects people is unpredictable. Much of the language used to describe those with mental illness is the language of abuse. This all adds to the negative perceptions of mental health.

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