Warning – having a moan #safeguarding

It’s the exam season, teachers are helping with last minute revision and trying to relieve stress or panic, pupils who they have taught for two years. This includes weekly homework’s, mock examinations and end of year test or end of module tests. Examination officers are busy trying to make sure the pupils sit the right paper and those that have special consideration are as comfortable as possible. These includes a variety of physical and mental medical issues, including this week a child in a wheelchair and their leg has to be elevated in front of them.
So imagine the surprise and issues that a letter from a doctor stating that a specific pupil has been suffering from anxiety can create. Pupil A has been seen by CAMH for two years, so please can they have a separate room and special consideration. I understand confidently completely and this isn’t what my moan is about. My issue is, the timing. The fact the letter comes the day before the child sits the exam really doesn’t help with the attitudes towards Mental Health. It does feel a little convenient , and I am sure it isn’t. Doctors or CAMH don’t work in education establishment, so perhaps don’t understand how the system works. Putting things in place last minute cannot help with anxiety. The whole point of mock examinations are to practice so if a child is suffering from anxiety and has done so for two years, perhaps the mocks or mini tests are the time to put special considerations into place, so that for the real exam there isn’t any anxiety. It would also mean that staff/ pupils know about the arrangements well in advance. A private email to the pupil explaining their arrangements must be better than a last minute pulling them aside from their friends and making them feel “different”. Of course many would argue that you cannot eliminate anxiety about exams and a little stress can work wonders, something maybe for a different blog.

Having a little more info earlier can help relieved any cynicism that can appear. Staff are excellent at not discussing issues, but putting things in place to help. Staff want every child to get the best grade possible. Obviously because they care about the child, but also from a selfish point of view. Imagine being the teacher that got a whole class of A’s. So if we knew about the anxiety we could consider how to encourage that child, remove some of the pressure in our language. Differentiation is nothing new. We know that there are some pupils who we have to be very direct with and others who we have to encourage in a calm manner. We honesty don’t want to make things worse, which is how it can appear when the letter comes last minute.

So could we communicate earlier without breaking confidentially. There’s me complaining that doctors and CAMH don’t really know what happens in schools, when thinking about it, I don’t really know their procedure when a pupil presents themselves with anxiety. How do they discuss other agencies and what they need to know? (I have never had a CAF initiated by a doctor). I know every doctor is different but perhaps I need to take initiative and go and find out more. Ok moan over and plan in place.

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

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