The future is looking bright for Dylan* who is studying for his GCSEs at High Peak School and is about to embark upon a vocational placement in the next school year. He has already achieved a number of great qualifications in English, Maths, ICT and Science at functional skills level.
But Dylan had to overcome a number of barriers to make these achievements. He experienced extreme behaviours both at school, and at home. Designated with child in need status, he was described as having a number of complex and significant social emotional and psychological needs”. He was judged as not being ready to engage in formal education, or socialisation. CAMHS were involved, and he was at risk of self-harm, and harming others.
Not surprisingly, Dylan struggled to feel like he belonged and felt a sense of hopelessness. He was easily distracted, was rigid in his thinking, was very literal and struggled to interpret emotion. He also struggled with sensory issues, and had difficulty following rules.
When Dylan moved to High Peak School for education, there was a careful transition which involved a trauma-informed approach working closely with his family and clinical team.
Since he arrived he has been taught by staff who are trained in speech and language therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy techniques. The occupational therapy team built in sensory strategies to use during lessons and Dylan has attended SaLT-led communication group sessions and DBT skills sessions.
Also important has been a multi-agency approach with Dylan’s placing authority as well as regular and positive communication with his family.
The impact on Dylan has been phenomenal. His high risk behaviour has reduced. Academically, he has made significant progress in reading and is learning in a formal class environment. He is an important part of the student council. He is a popular member of the HPS school community, wearing his uniform with pride. And he regularly tops the rewards points “table” for the school and speaks in assembly in front of the school.