CAMHS NRC PRU Team/Service

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What is New River College (NRC) PRU?

NRC is the key alternative educational provision for young people in Islington who, for a range of reasons, a mainstream school setting is not appropriate.

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

Why is CAMHS in New River College?

Due the nature of the specific difficulties and needs of the children and young people who are at New River College (NRC), a specialist CAMHS team has been established with the aim of providing a more flexible service. We are aware that many of the young people who attend NRC have previously been referred to Community CAMHS but have found attending difficult. By having dedicated CAMHS clinicians who spend a significant amount of time in the schools helps the pupils get to know them in a less formal setting and promotes the development of relationships. It also enables the clinicians to more easily observe the young people in the school context and develop more useful insights about how to support them and the staff trying to teach them.


Reasons why pupils and parents come to see us?

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

They may want to see someone on their own talk about how things are going at home and/or at school. Some examples of the kind of things we try and help with include:

  • Feeling sad, angry or anxious or worried
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having difficulty getting on with other people at home and at school

It may be that parents / carers want some help in understanding and working out the best strategies to supporting their child/ teenager. Sometimes parents/carers worries and problems can make it more difficult for them to help their child /teenager.

Having someone to talk to, who can get to know you, your strengths as well as difficulties may be useful in coping with feelings and making changes for the better, for both parents and pupils.

Young people referred/transferred to New River College arrive for different reasons, but many have struggled with the pace of the work, sticking to the rules about behaviour or the size of classes or year groups in mainstream school.

Young people arriving at NRC often feel they have been singled out or treated unfairly in the past and have not been understood by their old school.

Coming to New River College can be an opportunity to move forward.

Parents are often concerned their child has been placed in a school with lots of “problem children”. And up to a point this is true. But the school is properly staffed and resourced to understand these young people and in small classes work closely with pupils to get back into learning and school life.

There are CAMHS workers in each of these different sites for confidential sessions with students (each site has dedicated private rooms for meeting). What they offer is both similar and different depending on the age of the young people in the school and what help they need.

  • NRC Primary School

There are two CAMHS worker at New River College Primary School; Claudia Salazar-Fella (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist) and Siobhan Foley (Clinical Psychologist). Our aim is to help children and parents think about understanding their individual needs, to talk with them about the support they need and what brought them to the PRU, to support staff in thinking about the emotional needs of the children, and to support positive changes at home and school. We can meet with children and parents at the school where we have our own private rooms with toys to meet children or, if more appropriate, at the Northern Health Centre. At school we often join classes and assemblies and are around at break times. We support school staff by offering training, consultations and in team meetings.

For more information please see our leaflet.

  • NRC Secondary School Lough Road.

The CAMHS clinician based in Lough Road is Julia Jenkinson (Clinical Psychologist). Julia is based there and provides direct support to the young people who, for a variety of reasons, have difficulties managing their emotions and behaviour to the extent it significantly affects their ability to participate in learning and develop relationships. This may take the form of individual work, small group work and work with families. Julia also works with staff to think about the needs of individual children and develop more creative ways of engaging them in school. This achieved through staff consultation, work discussion groups and training. The young people are usually seen in the school but sometimes home visits are offered to young people and their families.

  • NRC Elthorne Road

Elthorne Road Unit is tailored for the needs of young people at Secondary level who learn better and cope more successfully in smaller class sizes, with more 1 to 1 support and a timetable designed to meet their interests and abilities. Octavia Wilkinson (Child Psychotherapist) is the CAMHS worker based here and she is able to offer direct support to the young people three days a week. Octavia also works with teaching staff to think about the needs of individual children and develop practical ways of engaging and supporting them in school. Meetings with young people and parents together often take place at the school but there is also the opportunity for home visits where that is more useful.

  • NRC Medical PRU

New River College offers home tuition and class based teaching for young people with medical conditions. The medical PRU offers three types of support:

1) Teaching in a classroom based at the Whittington hospital for young people recovering from illness.

2) Teaching in a classroom called ‘The lodge’ for young people whose mental health has prevented them from attending school regularly.

3) Home tuition where appropriate for pupils from either of the above groups .

The CAMHS clinician linked to the Medical PRU is David Pentecost (Family and Systemic Psychotherapist). David advises the teaching staff to help them meet some of the additional emotional, social and behavioural needs of the young people. He can also offer assessments and consultations to families and works with the team around the school to co-ordinate the help that is being offered to families and young people.


How we can help?

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

The New River College pupils often present with severe behavioural difficulties and emotional distress. Most of them also present learning difficulties or/and poor academic attainment, attention and concentration, and socialization problems. A few of them also present other difficulties such as self harm, depression, anxiety, as well as more difficult behaviour such as aggression, non-compliance and conduct disorders.

Difficulties in the family can impact on children and young people (and vice versa) such as parental discord, divorce, bereavement and traumatic events such as witnessing domestic violence, experience of abuse, experience of war, as well as mental health difficulties in either parent. The NRC CAMHS team offers an intensive and ( multi-layer) way of helping pupils. (home and school). The team intervenes in one or all the following modalities:

1) Direct work with Children young people and their parents/carers and their families. Each child / young person and his/her family have an initial assessment to create a formulation about how the presenting problems came about and a tailored intervention and treatment or further assessment is recommended accordingly. The most common of these treatments are:

  • a) Family therapy / parent and child therapeutic work
  • b) Short and long-term individual psychotherapy (once or more times a week)
  • c) Parenting skills and strategies
  • d) Group therapeutic work/ Social skills
  • e) Medication or psychiatric consultations

2) Specialist assessments and screening, (this are often also used to support applications to statement of special educational needs for the child/young person)

  • a. Screening for ASD, ADHD and depression
  • b. State of mind assessment
  • c. Extensive cognitive assessments
  • d. ADHD assessments
  • e. Psychiatric risk assessments

3) NCR staff consultations, behavioural management and training.

4) NCR TAC and TAS meetings and individual transition plans

5) Liaison work. The members of the team participate regularly in professional network meetings. This work aims to enhance the professionals understanding of the child’s or young person functioning and emotional needs.

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Last updated on 27th February 2014