Extending Student Counselling and Parental Support
The role of counselling at Charlton Park Academy does significantly help students with issues such as self-esteem, confidence, resolving conflicts, mental health, relationships, engaging with learning, and anger management. Due to its success in improving attendance and reducing fixed term exclusions by reducing violent expression of behaviour as communication, this has been extended with a full-time counsellor now employed in Sept 2016 to develop and build upon home school relationships and to support more active engagement with hard to reach parents and those parents and carers that are finding their children difficult to manage through adolescence.
Having a key trained counsellor helps students and carers review strategies, improve engagement and listening and support them to access support from a variety of different services. By developing productive and secure relationships this develops trust and understanding. This promotes and enables families to effectively engage and liaise with support in school and externally including support for welfare applications and support with parents in social care and housing interviews with someone they can trust to give independent supportive advice, particularly when their own educational or social experiences of services and ‘authorities’ may have been poor or misunderstood in the past.
Therapeutic interventions are individualised and can support parents understand safeguarding concerns and support resolution between agencies and services. It does also consist of helping students look at ways of changing behaviours, which in turn can help resolve conflicts within interpersonal relationships as well as increasing opportunities for students to pursue developmental milestones. Counselling does help to resolve some of the emotional pain and difficulties where problems such as fractured relationships, poverty, placement in care, confidence and self-esteem are experienced. Young people with special needs often need additional time to enable learning and require extra resources and support to achieve their potential. This will then enable the student to engage, listen, develop self-confidence, and know that they have someone they can trust within the school environment. Building trust through the therapeutic relationship will help develop other areas of learning, as well as improving mental health and resilience.
Counsellors also work with teachers to help them understand attachment issues as well as trauma, loss and relational issues. The value and impact of this role at Charlton Park Academy is to give encouragement and support students with their emotions and feelings and help staff understand how the world is looking or feeling through the young person’s eyes and in their life. Communication and building trust within the therapeutic relationship enables students to tap into their emotions that they can sometimes repress or externalise. It is about making a difference in someone’s life where they feel worth and know they are understood. The therapeutic role is to respect, empathise, and work with spontaneous feelings. Counselling also helps to maintain safe boundaries, identify and express emotions appropriately and undertake keeping safe and protection work as well as working on issues around loss and change. Students are assessed as to whether they need either time limited sessions or open-ended sessions. The academy believes that priority needs to be given to the relationships in schools. The role counselling provides is one which includes a consistent relationship that is built on trust, and a provision of emotional holding and helping families through difficult times, especially puberty and with CAMHS liaison and support via GP services.
Child-Centred Play Therapy, which is a holistic approach, is incorporated using play and art as a means of ‘helping’ the physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects, both conscious and unconscious, taking account of the past, present and future of the whole child. Counsellors tend to use different therapeutic approaches as it is believed that each person is unique and different in their own way. Some of the approaches used are child-centred psychotherapy, narrative therapy (reconstructing a child’s story) as well as cognitive behavioural therapy and accessing symbols. As each student is different with different needs, they will be assessed for suitability of media and activities for achieving goals. Some of the media used are books/stories for gaining mastery over issues and events, using miniature animals to improve communication skills and help develop insight. In addition, sand-tray work may be used to develop problem solving skills and help develop communication.
In addition, services are offered to parents/carers at Charlton Park Academy who need additional support. This role helps to assess what parent’s needs are and helps empower them by looking at their issues from an ecological perspective. Parent’s strengths and awareness are drawn on by exploring creative strategies and how they can be used.
Some parents at feel isolated and don’t feel that they have a voice. Parental Support helps to bridge the relationship between the school and home, which has been beneficial and successful. Parents have been given the chance to discuss information, which helps to promote autonomy. Meetings can take place either at school or at their family home, whichever is felt more appropriate. The academy believes that each child functions within a family unit and this support has helped to identify processes with parents to help experiment with new patterns of thinking.
Personal Development Library Resources
The use of Pupil Premium has been a key factor in developing Literacy and English throughout the Charlton Park Academy.
It has supported the employment of a librarian, who has been used in a variety of ways which have been essential to the improvement in Literacy and English in Charlton Park Academy. The library supports many of the booster and enrichment sessions for students in the red and yellow or for students who have needed extra input, with a range of stock including a large collection of reading scheme materials, and has been instrumental in raising levels of attainment.
The librarian has also helped to develop the Academy Library in many different ways. With this help, it has been possible to make the library a hub for literacy and a place that is loved and valued by all of Charlton Park Academy’s students, with relevant resources made easy to find. Amongst the many things done is to be on hand to lead Literacy and Library sessions in the library and help to make the library a place that is seen as fun and loved by all the classes. Her input has meant that students from every sector of the academy, whatever their needs, have been able to have library sessions which are meaningful and enjoyable.
The library runs the Pupil Librarian scheme, which has given students a voice in the running of their library and offered them the chance to obtain librarianship skills and work experience. The librarian also helped to organise the many literacy events and competitions that the school has offered, including visits from authors and illustrators, poetry workshops, storytelling days, sensory story events, donation drives and exhibitions of work. In addition, they have helped to set up and run the literacy clubs that have included drama, film, radio, journalism and book-making activities and that have reached students in PMLD, CN and ASD.
As well as all of this, they have also built up the costume collection in the academy, which is used for drama productions and for role play in classes throughout the school. Finally, they have begun to create a collection of symbol books that is essential for approximately half of the academy’s students.