Chingford school keeps therapist for just one day a week

Students at a “therapeutic school” in Chingford will now have access to an in-school therapist only one day a week.

Parents of Hawkswood Therapeutic School students were deeply concerned earlier this year to hear the in-school therapist role would be lost by the end of last term.

Campaign group Save Therapy at Hawkswood said it was “hard to overstate how much harm will be done if the therapist isn’t there” for the students, many of whom have mental health issues, trauma or conditions like autism.

The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) confirmed today that one full-time role will be shared “across education settings in Waltham Forest”.

A spokesperson said: “We’re pleased to confirm that the local authority is providing funding for a full-time senior child and adolescent mental health post to work across education settings in Waltham Forest, including the equivalent of one day each week at Hawkswood Therapeutic School.

“We will work collaboratively across schools and other colleagues in mental health services, as evidence indicates this achieves the best results for children and young people.

“It means we will be able to work with individuals and groups of young people, in consultation with the school’s mental health link worker, and also be able to help them access other support in the community.

“We also know how important it is for school staff themselves to feel confident working with children and young people with mental health needs, and will help to develop their awareness and skills.”

Speaking in July, Ali Harris, the mother of a 12-year-old student, said the school’s previous therapist and level of support had been vital to helping her son improve.

She said: “For some of the children just to get in the building is a big challenge.

“Staff in other schools have not been able to engage with these children but (the therapist) has the ability to really find a way to talk with them.

“It seems the proposal to withdraw or reduce the service is purely about saving money. It is impossible that the students’ needs have reduced – and in fact in many instances the impact of Covid-19 will have increased their needs.”

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter