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is it normal for sixth form colleges to offer no or little help for mental health problems?

(19 Posts)
yellowapples987 Tue 07-Jan-20 09:31:53

My dd is 17 and was helped through High School with mental health issues. She had an eating disorder in year 8, lost lots of weight, was under CAMHS. She regained the weight and since then she's had issues with severe anxiety, OCD and school refusal. Her High School were fantastic and the education inclusion officer helped with a reduced timetable and allowed her to do some work from home. She was barely in school during year 10 and 11, but managed to get mostly A*, A and a couple of Bs in her GCSEs.

When she started at sixth form college, they were aware of her problems and said they'd be supportive, but when her attendance started to struggle (she was fine initially for a few weeks then anxiety meant she just couldn't get in) they asked for a meeting re their 'fitness to study' policy and said that she'd have to restart. They said it wasn't possible to be supported in the College and that she'd have to be in the classes. Her teachers apparently said she'd missed too much of College to continue. (despite her attendance being much better than it was at school). I've sent messages to the College continually and got no response whatsoever. I did get a response from the head of year 12 yesterday. In my email I'd listed some of my concerns and they just reiterated that she'd have to leave and restart without addressing any of my concerns.

I just feel that they gave up too soon.
We're looking at independent study from home as the best option now.
Do sixth form colleges not bother trying to help students like my daughter because it's non compulsory education?

I know up to the end of year 11 it's a legal requirement to be at school, but nobody seems to care if they go to college/school beyond that (from my googling it seems that they're 'supposed' to be in education or training, but it isn't enforced). I'm assuming that schools/colleges only help students up to year 11, as school is a legal requirement? This is an ofsted outstanding college too with an amazing reputation, so I was shocked at their coldness and lack of help.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Tue 07-Jan-20 09:36:00

I don't have experience of this but I don't think it's right at all. What I do know is my dcs school had an outstanding reputation as their results were so high.
But I always felt they focused on results only. I felt if I had had a dc who didn't do well academically or socially the school wouldn't gave been so good for them.
I think the outstanding therefore is a bit of a red herring
I'm not sure how much further you could go with this but in your shoes I wouldn't be happy at this treatment and attitude either

yellowapples987 Tue 07-Jan-20 09:37:23

yes that's the same with this college. Their results are amazing and it's known as an exam factory. I did encourage her to go elsewhere, but she was determined to go here.

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bsc Tue 07-Jan-20 09:57:48

FE has had its budgets decimated- they can barely pay teachers, let alone pastoral staff. In school, there are usually more pastoral staff around, though perhaps not as many as previously.
Would she be willing to stop her courses now, and begin again at a school sixth form in September? She needs to be applying now if so, as many will have deadlines for applications soon.

yellowapples987 Tue 07-Jan-20 11:56:34

yes, she's thought about that. I'm just a bit scared if we end up at another College which offers no support and suggests she leaves as soon as her attendance drops. I wasn't sure if it was normal or because as soon as compulsory education stops at 16, they don't offer the support anymore?

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bsc Tue 07-Jan-20 15:04:31

A big problem in our LA (don't know if it's the same with yours) is that children's MH services end at 16, but adults' start at 18... hmm

This obviously compounds the problems experienced by colleges not being able to afford pastoral staff.
Are there actual schools with 6th forms where you are? They're still smaller than colleges in most cases, and more structured and nurturing environments in many cases. Yes, I know 17yos want to be independent and college can seem a way to do that, but if she's self-aware enough to know she needs help now, hopefully she can see that a smaller more cosseted environment can be supportive rather than infantilising.

Or, can you afford to let her study from home via virtual schooling, and do A levels that way?

yellowapples987 Tue 07-Jan-20 16:04:00

yes, there are schools with sixth forms. I'm not sure she wants to be back in a school environment though. I'm beginning to think home schooling for A levels is best option. The College does have a good pastoral team (rated outstanding by ofsted too) and so I'm surprised that almost their first response to her problems was to suggest she leave and come back in September when she's 'worked on her mental health'. But they know she's had these issues for five years, so the idea that she can go away and fix herself in a few months is a bit optimistic.

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Oblomov20 Tue 07-Jan-20 16:14:14

I think this is the difference between continuing at a school- six form and going to college.

DS1's school has superb pastoral care and this continues into the six form.

or alternatively you can go to college where you are expected to be a lot more independent, no one is chasing you and your expected to be mature and handle a lot more yourself.

but you knew this pre the decision that you presumably talked to her about all these options before she made her final decision about where to go?

okiedokieme Tue 07-Jan-20 16:20:28

My DD's college was excellent, far better than school. It varies basically. University has been excellent and dd is now on the advisory panel to develop services in the future

ArthurDentsSpaceTowel Tue 07-Jan-20 16:29:09

Do you have any tutorial colleges where you live? These can be an expensive option but have smaller classes, more 1:1 support and a more flexible study timescale, so they can work well when attendance is patchy.

Other than that, maybe try Interhigh or similar.

roisinagusniamh Tue 07-Jan-20 19:24:36

Is she still under CAMHs?

BalloonSlayer Tue 07-Jan-20 20:09:39

How much school has she missed?

It is the rule that if a sixth former misses more than 6 weeks' school - no matter what the reason- they MUST be taken off roll. This is because funding for their place is withdrawn by the LA after a six week absence.

Saltycinnamon Tue 07-Jan-20 20:25:04

Balloonslayer that is absolutely not true.

Saltycinnamon Tue 07-Jan-20 20:25:47

I’m interested in who has told you that though.

bsc Tue 07-Jan-20 21:08:26

Sorry @BalloonSlayerbut funding for 6th formers doesn't come from LAs, it comes directly from ESFA!

BalloonSlayer Wed 08-Jan-20 07:09:59

My mistake at where funding comes from. And maybe it's just the rule in my DCs sixth form. And maybe the rule in the OP's DD's sixth form too . . .

Fannia Wed 08-Jan-20 07:20:02

She's so bright maybe home schooling would be a good option, you could get a tutor to help.

ChachyFace Wed 08-Jan-20 07:22:03

I don't think they can offer much help or support in terms of resolving issues/ counselling but, in my experience, they have been very supportive/ accommodating in terms of extending deadlines, sitting exams in a quiet room, poor attendance- but no lower than 85% over the year. Also different college- exam factory- has good pastoral support- but their policy/ management structure separates pastoral support completely away from the teaching staff so academic staff have NO IDEA what some of their pupils are going through- and this have little sympathy until it gets super bad.

Shvbs Thu 09-Jan-20 11:25:39

Hi I get what what you mean because I am a A level student right now and am going through similar issues. Literally as I type this I'm at home because I could not go in because of anxiety and depression and the school is not helping at all it's more like threats I am getting that I will be kicked out. Well then if you want me to improve help me. I asked my school head and teachers many times if the remove the independent study lessons to an earlier time or different day because I just cannot cope with the waiting for countless hrs of free periods then being unable to go home or library because all of those lessons have been moved to the end of the day. Just before the winter break my geog teacher made me cry because she was in a way judging my character and making that typical face like your good for nothing, even with the skl knowing about my mental health problems. I as a person never disrespect a teacher because I see the role, but making me feel hurt like that literally made me question my role as giving a teacher the respect they deserve and if they really deserve it. Unlike maybe some other kids I have got no support from my mother when it comes to my mental health problems so I am constantly talking to the school myself about this matter. The teachers always end up saying it's not fair on anyone else if we make these adjustments to help which I understand, but those who are not going through mental health issues may not need the same support we do. My 6th form even talks about kicking me out, like I really understand now how the education system fails students.

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