Highfield Adolescent Unit
During term time, all young people at Highfield are expected to continue learning; school structure is an important part of your treatment here. As far as is possible, we aim to support each young person to keep up with their home school curriculum so that they feel prepared to return to their home school or college once discharged. Even though we understand the different demands put upon them during treatment, we always strive to help them achieve their very best academically. As a team, we have a strong collective knowledge of how mental health impacts upon a person’s ability to learn and are well-equipped to support them.
Monday through to Friday, the learning day runs from 10:00am to 3.30pm. We offer a bespoke timetable to all young people who work with us because we understand that each young person is a unique learner. Each timetable will change week by week to reflect changing learning needs and other appointments on the ward. We offer a range of curriculum subjects alongside group activities such as PE, Art Group and Life Skills. We also offer a number of engagement activities to complement each young person’s study. This offer currently includes gardening, photography, music, drama and therapeutic art, amongst other offers. Young people may be taught individually, in pairs or in small groups. If they have public exams coming up, such as GCSEs or A Levels, then we can also facilitate them taking them here.
Shortly after admission, all young people are allocated a ‘key teacher’ who will link with their home school, college or training provider and together they will agree how best to support the student with their learning. We will request work from home school to ensure that, where appropriate, students are following the same course of learning as their peers to avoid them falling behind. The key teacher will meet with them regularly to discuss how things are going. They will also link up with parents or carers and other professionals who are supporting their learning. As a young person approaches discharge, their key teacher and case team will support them with their reintegration into their home school, college or placement. We will support with visits before discharge so that they feel prepared. If a young person is not currently in education or training, then our staff can help them to think about what they might like to do next and support them with any applications which may need to be completed. Our main aim as a school is to ensure that when young people are discharged they have a clear plan for their education in place so that they have the best chance to succeed in the community.
The school at Highfield is staffed by the Leader of Learning, subject teachers and HLTAs. We regularly invite outside agencies to the unit to deliver workshops so that young people have access to a rich and varied learning experience and are able to explore different interests outside of the usual ‘classroom’ environment.
Who do we teach?
We teach young people of all abilities, from those who have learning difficulties to those aiming for top universities. Whether at Key Stage 3 or Key Stage 4, studying for A/S and A Levels, BTEC diplomas, NVQs or other college or vocational courses, our aim is to support all young people to continue learning at a difficult time. For young people who are not in education, employment or training, or who have fallen behind with studies since leaving school, we aim to support with studying functional and life skills together with advice and help in finding an appropriate educational or work based learning placement so they get the best possible chance on discharge.
What do we teach?
Wherever appropriate, we establish close links with the young person’s home school or college and support work supplied by them. If this work is not available or is inappropriate the teaching will be based on our own curriculum framework which is derived from the National Curriculum. Young people will experience individual teaching, paired and group work as well as online learning and are able to take their public examinations while they are with us.
Each young person has their own personalised timetable which is updated weekly to take account of health, progress and the young person’s own choices.
In addition to academic work, the timetable includes a range of creative, recreational and therapeutic activities including: PE, individualised gym programmes, art, drama, music and creative writing; PCSHE, lifeskills and thinking skills. Over the course of the academic year we run enrichment programmes using the skills of visiting artists, professionals and experts. Recent projects have included: Manet and Me, a project delivered jointly with the Ashmolean Museum. Engineering workshops delivered by Atkins Engineering and a workshop to encourage students to consider skills valuable for working in Law, delivered jointly with The Rule of Law project.
How do we support re-integration?
The Key Teacher regularly attends the Care Programme Approach (CPA) Reviews. They work closely with young people, their families, home schools and the multi-disciplinary team to support a planned discharge and help with school or college reintegration, or other future planning as appropriate. Following time in hospital, young people normally need help with a phased and supported reintegration programme. Oxfordshire Hospital School teachers are experienced in this aspect of the work and as young people get an increasing amount of home leave, the Key Teacher will arrange and support time back in home schools or colleges.
How do we support young people?
All the young people are allocated a ‘Key Teacher’ and the teachers work very closely and on a daily basis as part of the wider multi-disciplinary team which may include psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, family therapists and occupational therapists. Key teachers also have close working links with Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams (CAMHS) in the community.
It is an important part of our work to maintain regular communication links with parents and carers. Our initial contact with families is to both seek permission to contact home schools and establish a rapport for future communications. We aim to liaise closely with families to help plan the next stage of the young person’s future education.