Information For Mainstream Schools
When A Student Is Admitted To Forest House Adolescent Unit
If one of your students is admitted to Forest House Adolescent Unit, he or she will have the opportunity to continue their education with us for the duration of their hospital stay. As soon as the student is considered clinically robust enough to attend the Education Centre, they will meet with one of the Centre's 'liaison teachers' who will telephone or email the mainstream school shortly thereafter. It is our intention to create a working relationship with the person in your school best placed to provide an oversight of the young person's needs (normally the teacher in charge of inclusion, or a head or year or house). Since mental health issues very often have an impact on a student's long-term educational needs, it is also useful for us to be put in touch with your school's SENCO at this stage.
Some schools, upon learning that a student is in hospital, are quick to provide work for them to do. This is something we welcome. However, it is often the case that the seriousness of a student's clinical presentation means that being heavily burdened by work from a home school is not desirable. We accommodate KS3 and KS4 students in small class groups for the core subjects of English, maths and science, where we will differentiate the work according to your student's age, ability and curriculum requirements. The only students for whom immediate mainstream school or college support is always desirable are post-16 students, where subject diversity means we offer no 'core' academic curriculum (although we do have a regular taught 'enrichment' programme). Please feel free to send relevant resources, either electronically or in the post, to support the independent study of post-16 students - and KS3/KS4 students, subject to agreement with your student's liaison teacher.
Shortly after your student is admitted to hospital, discussion will begin regarding when and how they might be discharged (initially on the hospital Unit, since the key considerations will be clinical) - even if no dates are set, and a return to life in the community remains a distant prospect. It is advisable for mainstream schools to consider and plan for the eventual needs of the returning student, even at this early stage, so that any internal or external referrals for support are well in hand in the event of an earlier-than-expected discharge. Please bear in mind that while Forest House Education Centre may be meeting the immediate educational needs of your student, he or she will remain on your school's roll (with all the attendant responsibilities which that implies).
As your student's recovery progresses, periodic review meetings will be called by our clinical colleagues, to which mainstream schools are often invited to send a representative. It is always helpful if mainstream schools are in attendance at such meetings, since their long-term observations of a student's presentation can often inform clinical decisions. It also affords mainstream schools an opportunity to ask the kind of medical questions which, as teachers, staff of the Education Centre cannot answer. Throughout your student's stay in hospital, of course, we will endeavour to provide you with timely and high quality updates regarding their progress. Mainstream schools are also welcome to contact us in regard to their students, and visits to the Centre can often be arranged (subject to clinical approval), should it assist in the student's recovery and ability to reintegrate into their mainstream setting.
If your student is in hospital during a critical exam period, it is often possible to transfer written exams to our Centre. We are a registered centre for AQA, Edexcel and OCR (but not WJEC at the moment), and have also had Cambridge exams transferred to us in the past. Some practical exams and controlled assessments cannot be transferred to us, however, and last-minute transfers can sometimes cause problems. An early dialogue between our exams officer and yours is always the easiest starting point.
As discharge approaches, we will liaise closely with you in order to give your student as smooth a transition back into school as possible. Few re-integrations are undertaken without an element of 'dovetailing' between our education provision and yours, a process which can often take some weeks. Since physical health and mental health difficulties are very different in nature (and since the recovery from some mental health problems can be a very long-term process), it may be the case that highly individualised provision or support is required for your student. Be sure to bring any questions related to your student's needs to the 'Discharge CPA' meeting, to which your school will be invited to send representation.
Following discharge, it is likely that your student's ongoing clinical care will be taken up by either a CAMHS clinic, the C-CATT (mental health crisis) team, or another agency. At this time, the clinicians at Forest House Adolescent Unit will withdraw. On the educational side, we try to offer an advisory role (if required) in the period immediately following a student's departure, although the needs of our current cohort must always remain our first priority. Mainstream schools that take an active role and informed interest in their students' in-patient admissions, however, tend to have fewer re-integration issues than those which do not.