The St Aubyn Centre Therapeutic Education Department (SACTED) is a Local Authority school situated within the NHS St Aubyn Centre Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit. Young people are admitted the St Aubyn Centre because their difficulties have become so severe they are unable to manage everyday life appropriately and safely in the community. The unit is a 25 bed unit with two wards (Longview and Larkwood) which takes young people between the ages of 13 and 18. They may be voluntary patients or they may be detained under the Mental Health Act.
All young people who are admitted to the unit attend education and this is considered an integral part of their treatment programme. Students are taught in either the Longview or the Larkwood classroom, depending on which ward they are admitted to.
The education team consists of qualified teachers, Learning Support Assistants, a Careers and Engagement Mentor, and a business and admin manager. We have close links with Essex university and frequently have undergraduate psychology students on placement with us as well as regular volunteers. We are rated as outstanding by OFSTED.
We run a full school day which includes therapeutic activities as well as academic learning. All young people are expected to attend education and it is seen as an integral part of the NHS unit programme.
The Education department works very closely with the NHS team. Education staff attend CPA reviews, ward reviews and multidisciplinary team meetings. We also deliver some sessions jointly. This ensures that the nursing, clinical and education programmes for each young person are fully aligned.
When young people are admitted to the NHS unit they are automatically enrolled at SACTED, but they will also remain on role at their community school. We normally contact the community school to gather information and will liaise with them throughout the admission. Where appropriate, the young person’s community school will be asked to provide work to ensure that they are covering the same areas as their peers. The community school will usually be invited to the CPA reviews. Post 16 students who are not currently in education, employment or training will work with our Careers and Engagement Mentor to identify next steps.
On Admission each young person is allocated a key teacher who will work with them to plan their programme. They will have an individual, personalised timetable aimed at meeting their learning and mental health needs. Students spend the morning in their key group of four or five students each working on their own individually set work. In the afternoons there are a range of therapeutic group activities which are often creative or physical. There is also the option of a further study session.
When young people are preparing for discharge education staff will liaise with their community school or education provider and arrange a reintegration plan which might include visits, planning meetings and accompanied lessons.
Many young people admitted to the unit have mental health difficulties which have impacted on their education, and sometimes their education has had a negative impact on their mental health. We will work with the young person and their community school to try to resolve some of the difficulties they may have faced and we will advise schools on strategies for supporting the young person. If students are unable to return to their previous school we will work with parents and the local authority to identify suitable provision. Young people who are preparing for exams can continue studying with us and can, if necessary, sit exams with us as we are a registered exam centre.
Our staff team are highly skilled and have a wealth of experience. We will always balance a young person’s learning needs with their mental health needs and we work flexibly, with understanding and compassion.
For more information please contact your young person’s key teacher or the head of education.