CAMHS Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) Team

New River College

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What is New River College (NRC) PRU?

New River College is the main Alternative Educational Provision for young people in Islington who, for a range of reasons, a mainstream school setting is not felt to be appropriate.

It is an independent school offering education from Primary to Secondary level and is based over four sites:

  • Golden Lane Primary Site, for pupils of primary age (5-11)
  • Golden Lane Secondary Site/Elthorne Road, for pupils in Key Stage 3 (aged 11-14) who benefit from being in a smaller site.
  • Lough Road Secondary Site, for pupils in Key Stage 3 and 4 (aged 11-16)
  • New River College Medical PRU, for pupils with medical or mental health needs.

Link to New River College’s own website:

Why is CAMHS in New River College?

Many of the young people who are attending New River College are facing very specific challenges with their learning and behaviour, and they may have particular support needs. They and their families may have been referred to Community CAMHS (at the Northern Health Centre), but found it a struggle to attend, for a variety of reasons.

We have therefore established a specialist CAMHS team in the PRU settings, to make the service more accessible to these young people and their families. Having dedicated CAMHS clinicians who spend a significant amount of time in the schools has the following benefits:

  • It helps the pupils get to know the clinicians in their school setting.
  • Pupils, parents and carers can access the help in the school setting.
  • It means the clinicians can easily observe the young people in the school, day to day, and understand their needs better.
  • The clinicians can also offer support to the staff working with children and young people.

Reasons why pupils and parents come to see us?

Young people who come to New River College arrive for different reasons, but may have struggled with the pace of the work, keeping to the rules about behaviour, or the size of classes or year groups in mainstream school. Some may have found their previous school environment overwhelming or emotionally distressing. Some young people arriving at NRC can feel they have been ‘singled out’ or treated unfairly in the past and that they have not been understood in previous schools.

Coming to New River College can be an opportunity to move forward, get some support with things that have been difficult and find different ways of doing things. CAMHS is often a part of this process.

There are lots of different reasons why pupils at New River College and their parents or carers see someone from the CAMHS PRU team.

Some examples of the kind of things we try and help children, young people (and their families) with include:

  • Depression, low mood or feeling ‘flat’
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxieties, worries or panic attacks
  • Angry feelings or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulties with learning
  • Problems paying attention or concentrating
  • Finding it hard to keep to rules or boundaries
  • Family relationship difficulties
  • Problems getting on with other young people or adults
  • Hurting or upsetting other people
  • Behaving in dangerous or ‘risky’ ways
  • Being upset about difficult things that have happened in the past

Some of the reasons parents and carers ask for our help include:

  • Wanting to understand their child or young person’s behaviour
  • Finding out how best to support them at home and school
  • Strengthening the relationship with their child or young person and improving family relationships
  • Talking through their own worries which might be affecting their child or young person
  • Getting help with talking to and communicating with other professionals and service

How we can help?

Our specialist team offers help to young people and their families in a variety of ways.

This will begin with an initial assessment, to get some ideas about…

  • How the difficulties might have come about
  • Whether some treatment or further assessment would be appropriate

Based on the assessment, the following types of help might be offered:

  • Individual therapy with the child/young person
  • Parent-child therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Parenting support and strategies
  • Group work/social skills
  • Psychiatric consultations/medication support
  • Further specialist assessments and screening for Autism Spectrum Condition, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other conditions
  • Cognitive assessments
  • State of mind assessments

Support offered to New River College staff:

  • Staff consultations and individual case discussions
  • Training around understanding and managing behaviour
  • Support with applications for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
  • Attendance at Team around the Child (TAC) and Team Around the School (TAS) Meetings
  • Help with individual pupil Transition Plans

Our specialist team also participate regularly in professional network meetings, to share their understanding of how the child or young person is doing, what their needs are, and how they can most appropriately be supported.

Who are the New River College CAMHS Workers?

Helen Aspland, Clinical Psychologist, Lead for PRUs and Schools:


Golden Lane Primary:

Elaine O’Dwyer, Systemic and Family Therapist


Key Stage 3 Complex Needs:

Chris Laraway, Clinical Psychologist



Lough Road Secondary:

A new clinician will be starting in January 2018.


Medical PRU and PRU Outreach Service:

Freya Read, Clinical Psychologist


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Last updated on 14th December 2017