Frequently Asked Questions
- We deliver personalised education and support for young people.
- Our services are based on developing and brokering relationships, which is essential due to the complexities of some young people’s experiences.
- We are passionate to ensure young people are integrated back into mainstream education. We are always planning how to move them forward.
- We work with everyone who fits our criteria. We never give up on a young person.
- Our approaches are trauma informed to maximise impact and respond to their previous life experiences and trauma.
Our primary partner is the young person. However, we also partner with their family and the support agencies that are inevitably involved in their lives.
We work with their family to ensure that their relationships and home environment provides a safe, secure and supportive place for them to thrive.
We work hard to ensure a multi-agency approach, keeping the young person at the centre. We regularly work with schools and referral units, looked after education services and the virtual school, youth offending teams (YOT) and children’s services, amongst a range of other support networks.
WHO DO WE WORK WITH?
ACE stands for adverse childhood experiences. These are extremely stressful events that can happen to a child growing up, some so stressful that they can alter brain development as well as the immune system, increasing the risk of life long health and social problems in adulthood.
An ACE score is calculated by taking a simple assessment with 10 yes/no answer questions based on experiences before the age of 18.
The following TED talk explains how childhood trauma can impact an individual’s health across their lifetime. Link here.
The statistical facts surrounding ACE scores and their impact on future life circumstances are overwhelming, but it is also possible to change these statistics by intervening to repair some of the damage caused through these experiences. An ACE score can never be reduced, it is an indicator of the level of trauma you have been through, but the impact of that trauma on a person’s future life can be changed through engagement with help and support. It is important because it is the key to a better future for the young people we work with.
Whilst we work with young people from a range or backgrounds, we do specialise in those who have experienced significant trauma. We have found that many young people in this category can be left for long periods of time without consistent education as a result of the struggles they have in managing their emotions and the challenging ways this can present in behaviours. The bespoke nature of our work means we can support students to develop skills around emotional regulation in ways that are more challenging in a larger setting.
The higher the number of ACEs, the greater the risk to future health. For young people with 4+ ACEs for example, the statistics show significant impact on their future life chances without intervention:
- 2 x more likely to be binge drinking in adult life
- 3 x more likely to be a smoker in adult life
- 5 x more likely to have had sex under the age of 16
- 6 x more likely to have had or caused an unplanned pregnancy
- 7 x more likely to have been involved in violence in the last year
- 11 x more likely to use heroin/crack or go to prison
We have chosen to work with young people who have faced significant adversity as we know that with the right support they can go on to thrive. They require specialised support and education and we want to be part of the solution.
Parents are a vital part of the solution for young people. We all want the best for our children and we very much see parents/carers as an important partner is achieving this.
We work closely with parents to help them to help their child including:
- Ensuring good communication and building a positive relationship with parents, recognising that by the time a young person is referred to us, parents may dread another phone call from the school. We work to build a positive relationship with the parent/carer in order to help them to support the young person.
- Offering mediation and family support to help repair and rebuild relationships that have become challenging at home.
- Providing advice for parents about how to better manage and de-escalate the behaviours of their child in the home setting.
- Offering parents the opportunity to take an ACE score test themselves, as this can help them to understand some of the challenges they are facing and why it is difficult to manage at times.
- Running parenting courses and support groups that help them to overcome their own adversities in order to support and strengthen their confidence and ability to parent well.
Whilst there is a fee for our services, it is extremely unusual for parents to pay this. As a specialist intervention service, we are commissioned by education/health and/or social care as part of a package to meet the needs of the child. The work we do will be part of a broader package to address needs and is often financed through the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and/or Pupil Premium Plus, along with charitable funding that often supports our work wiht families.
Every situation is unique, however the referral process is likely to go through the following stages:
- The process usually begins with a brief discussion with one of the team to establish if the young person is likely to benefit from our service. Availability of sessions will probably also be discussed at this point.
- Following this discussion, a referral form should be completed by the agency who will fund the service.
- A member of our team will then arrange an initial meeting with parents/carers and the young person to discuss the various opportunities that we feel may be of benefit to them. It is likely there will also be some time spent 1:1 with the young person to begin to build relationship. Various assessment tools may be used as part of this process, though these are often completed once the young person has begun sessions with us.
- Following this meeting, we will liaise with the referring agency, and others involved to put an appropriate package in place.
This is then regularly reviewed to ensure the ongoing needs are met.
With the right intervention and support, it is possible to counteract the effects of ACEs on the life of a young person. We can help the brain to recover from early adversity in childhood by, for example, teaching young people to control stress, developing executive functioning skills and building self-esteem. As we move forward in this journey, young people will develop the skills to be able to cope in situations that they have not managed well before.
Every young person is different, and it does take time, but our aim is to be gradually reducing the support we give over time and re-engaging them with universal services. Our aim is always to move them back towards mainstream, recognising this must be a staged journey, and that each young person will present with different needs and will progress in their own time.
As part of the integration back to mainstream, our team can support the transition. This support package will be bespoke and is likely to include mentoring sessions from our team in the initial stages to help them settle, though this is looked at on a case by case basis to establish the best possible route to success for each individual child.
Training can be provided either at whole school level, or in smaller groups, to help staff to be trauma informed and to understand how best to work with young people with high ACE scores in order to get the best results. This training will undoubtedly have benefits for the wider school population and would be of benefit to all schools as we know that there will be many children in any given school facing these challenges.
“She stated that she was shown ways to work in a group and alone and how to express herself…she would have liked a longer course as she enjoyed it so much.”