Kate’s answer for troubled children: The Duchess of Cambridge will open a school for youngsters kicked out of mainstream education – and make their parents sit in the same classroom
- School is part of the Anna Freud Centre of Excellence for child mental health
- The child mental health charity has Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge as its patron
- Parents will be asked to watch their child’s troublesome behaviour at the school
Parents are going back to school in a new project for excluded children due to be opened by the Duchess of Cambridge today.
A new school for pupils who have been kicked out of mainstream education will be the first to require all parents to sit in on classes.
It will specialise in children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, which often cause them to play up in class.
Families are asked to witness their child’s troublesome behaviour for themselves and coached on how to deal with it at home.
The Pears Family School will be part of the new Anna Freud Centre of Excellence for child mental health in King’s Cross, London – a charity which has the Duchess of Cambridge as its patron.
Kate is involved as part of her ongoing work with mental health charities.
The Pears Family School will be part of the new Anna Freud Centre of Excellence for child mental health – a charity which has the Duchess of Cambridge as its patron
The school, which has already been running as a pilot on a temporary site, is set to take 48 children aged five to 13. Those attending will have been excluded from school for bad behaviour caused by ‘conduct disorders’ and emotional problems.
In the first four years of the pilot, 60 per cent of the children were able to return to mainstream schooling after little more than a year and 95 per cent of those children remained there. It has been so successful that the charity is now working with several local authorities across the country to replicate the model elsewhere.
School leaders say the intervention is vital to stop children becoming ‘stuck’ in permanent exclusion, which can make youngsters vulnerable to grooming by criminal gangs later on. New research from the Anna Freud Centre shows excluded children are more likely to experience behavioural and attention difficulties, emotional problems, difficulties with peers and perceived stress.
Stephen Taylor, the school’s founding head teacher, said: ‘Having parents there is key to making a change. It means that, when the child gets back into mainstream, this is a parent who is supportive of the school because they’ve realised some of the difficulties – rather than being a parent who maybe assumes that a school is picking on their child or has got it wrong.’
Kate is involved as part of her ongoing work with mental health charities. Pictured as she attends the 2017 Gala Dinner for The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
Working parents can share the burden, come in for half days or send grandparents in their place. Parents have to attend a one-day learning programme every week to coach them in skills to deal with challenging behaviour. Part of the journey is bringing parents out of the ‘denial’ that their child has a problem, Mr Taylor said. ‘It’s challenging for the parents because they have to acknowledge there’s things that they could do differently,’ he said.
However, he said the classes are ‘non-judgmental’, adding: ‘Even those parents with the most challenging young people in the most challenging situations, they want something better.’
Mr Taylor said the centre focusses on conveying a ‘message of hope’ to families and helping them to become ‘engaged’ with their child’s schooling.
Much of pupils’ time is spent learning the National Curriculum. However, they also attend therapy sessions with experts accompanied by their parents.
Last year, the Duchess announced a new project to help mend ‘broken Britain’ through supporting families in difficulty.
She has made early-years intervention one of the cornerstones of her public work after seeing how so many problems faced by adults she had met – mental health issues, addiction and social exclusion – stem from their childhood.
The Duchess has set up a task force of experts to investigate the issue, with a view to announcing a series of findings and recommendations later this year.
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