TEDx Nantymoel Talk

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“Why are so many school aged children struggling to attend school? What is going on behind the behaviours? In this talk, Behaviour, Emotional Health and Wellbeing Specialist Rob Jones sheds light on some of the functions behind the behaviour and broadens the understanding of what is known as Emotionally Based School Avoidance. Moving from what we see as being typical behaviour for school aged children to what some homes are experiencing behind closed doors, explaining what the functions are behind the behaviours to looking at what could be happening within the brains, and looking how we can reconsider our language and supporting structures around them, moving towards a child-centred, needs-led approach.”

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organised by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Podcast Episode

BBC Radio Wales Interview – May 28th

Spoke with James Williams and David Grundy on BBC Radio Wales about Persistent Absenteeism in Wales.

40.1% of learners were persistently absent (missed 10% of education sessions), that number rises to 64.3% for free school meal children and 51.6% for those with ALN. Also, as of April 26th, 47.6% of absences were due to illness, with other and no reason making up 22.3% and 4.2% respectively. It should also be noted that in Primary schools, the attendance sits at around 92.1-92.9% from Yr1-Yr6. In contrast, there is a steady decline in secondary school, falling from 91.1% in yr7 to 85.7% in yr11.

The question, as we have the stats, should be “Why”?
Why are almost half of absences due to illness (WG guidance does state that when there is an absence due to anxiety/depression it should be treated the same as an illness, and recorded as such)?
Why is there a steady decline in attendance in secondary schools?
Why are free school meals and ALN more likely to be persistently absent?

Once we understand some of these whys, we can look at how we can support the individuals and what can be done. More needs to be done both at home and in school, particularly when external services like Early Help and CAMHS have significant waiting lists, as do ND pathways. Do some of these learners fall under the ALN Act if their learning difficulty is due to accessibility rather than cognition? Are we embedding the whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing? Are we implementing the NEST/NYTH frameworks? Are we bridging the support gaps between home and education?

We need to start working from the bottom up rather than the top down. The stats only give us an idea of the difficulties, not the details.