An innovative approach to improving support for young people with ADHD in school

Dr Nicola ReynoldsDr Nicola Reynolds, Principal Clinical Psychologist / Clinical Lead for the Integrated Neurodevelopmental Team at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, explains the innovative approach the Greenwich ADHD team is taking to provide more support to schools in the borough so that they are more able to manage young people with ADHD.

A lack of awareness and recognition of ADHD can negatively impact on how a young person is managed in school. This had led to a situation where children with ADHD are at higher risk of being excluded than other children. Exclusion can lead to poorer outcomes.

In my clinics, one of the most common concerns raised by parents and young people are difficulties in the school environment, which can have a significant negative impact on a young person’s emotional wellbeing. Teachers frequently request more training, consultation, and support from the Greenwich ADHD team to help them better manage young people with ADHD. We are not able to meet this demand adequately, due to the large number of schools in Greenwich and the significant increase in our caseload over the past two years. We therefore needed to find an alternative way to deliver this support.

To do this, we have developed an online platform for children, young people and their families that can also be accessed by Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCO). A SENCO is a school teacher who is responsible for assessing, planning and monitoring the progress of children with special needs. They co-ordinate additional support for pupils and liaise with parents and professionals involved with the child. The platform enables SENCOs to communicate with the team via private messaging and give feedback about young people that are under the care of the team. Over the coming year the team will be developing the platform to add more training resources and information for SENCOs.   

Families are currently using the platform to communicate with the team and access self-monitoring tools, for example a sleep tracker and diary. This enables the team to deliver a more continuous model of care as opposed to an episodic face to face model. Families also use the platform to let us know when they need another prescription. One mum told us that she found the diary section really helped: “I use this when things are getting on top of me. I am able to express how I feel. Sometimes just writing things on the platform helps alleviate some of my worries.The team always respond.”

We currently have approximately 70 families using the platform but only a small number of schools. We hope to have most schools in Greenwich signed up to the platform by February next year in order to evaluate whether it has the same positive impact reported by parents.