The Lost Children -helping them to find their path

The Children’s Commissioner for England posted a blog yesterday(31 August) highlighting the worrying level of attendance for the so called ‘lost children’ in education – particularly those with SEND and Mental Health needs and how we need to better provide for their needs.
Whilst the focus the Children’s Commissioner is giving to the importance of attendance is admirable in highlighting the number of children who are not receiving the right support in education and we agree completely that more funding is needed in these areas, the sort of headlines these stories create can have negative impact on families and learners.

The start of a new academic term can be an incredibly stressful time for so many young people and their families – with the sense of foreboding at the prospect of yet another year where they struggle to receive the support they need, wishing they could just ‘get used to it’ and be ‘normal’ like all the other children, whilst struggling with the threat of fines and legal consequences of not attending school. In many cases these experiences are shrouded in feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame – with the idea that they are doing something wrong.

We know the difficult experiences our families face every day and what an exhausting challenge it can be to even get through the door at school and college – which is why we work so closely with our families to support this transition. Whilst headlines like this can bring a spotlight on these issues, they also can add to the pressures facing young people.

Children need to be in education. They need to have positive interactions with their peers. They need to experience differing situations and views as well as safeguarding their well-being. However, they need to be in an environment that is right for them and can support their needs as an individual, something the current mainstream education system is not equipped to do. We agree with the Children’s Commissioner that there is not enough support in schools for SEMH/SEND children – which is why the work we do at Inclusion is so important – providing a different path to education which centres mental health and well-being.

Our trauma informed and PACE approach works to build trusting relationships between staff and learners, with resources put in place to support their individual needs in the classroom. We take a holistic approach to education which supports mental health and well-being alongside education and learning.

We work as a community – together with families to ensure we are providing the best possible opportunities for our learners.

The only way we can continue and grow our sort of provision – providing a beacon of light for children who feel lost –  is through dedicated funding to provide additional places and additional provisions such as Inclusion School and Inclusion College.