School Focused Eating Disorder Concept Rolls Out in Suffolk
Suffolk-based not-for-profit organisation, Wednesday’s Child, has developed a comprehensive protocol, which guides school staff and the pupil community through awareness, prevention and intervention.
As well as providing focused education about the mental health illness and its incidence in the academic arena, the package includes full recovery coaching support for students experiencing difficulties with, or early signs of, an eating disorder.
It is believed as many as one in five schoolchildren will experience an eating disorder during their academic life, and the disease has a high onset incidence during adolescence in particular.
The new approach has been swiftly adopted by one independent school which has for a long time prided itself on its pastoral care delivery.
Framlingham College, which has 650 students, is now utilising the Wednesday’s Child team to educate staff, audit dining facilities, deliver assemblies, stage parent talks, and provide a one-to-one listening service or recovery techniques for those children who may need it.
Debbie Watson, who founded Wednesday’s Child after her own lived experience of the illness, said: “Our protocol on eating disorders is something long overdue in the education arena, and we’re proud to have been the organisation to have really listened to schools and to have developed a framework which can be tailored for their needs.
“On the one hand, teachers and pastoral staff were saying how desperate they were for more information and resources to assist understanding of this devastating illness, but perhaps even more so, they were eager to get ‘hands-on’ support wherever a child might be showing some kind of eating distress or disordered thoughts.”
She added: “We are now able to offer a really strong mix of one-to-one, group and workshop based delivery, calling upon an exceptional team of Wednesday’s Child specialists who come from backgrounds in teaching, young people’s behavioural needs, therapeutic solutions, nutrition and food psychology, and mental health provision.”
Framlingham College Deputy Head (Pastoral), Tom Caston, said “The wellbeing of a pupil is critical to them experiencing a happier and more successful school career. I really believe that the Wednesday’s Child delivery model is essential for the entire academic community – from primary to higher education, and across mainstream and public schools.”
At the start of 2020, in findings gathered from NHS Digital Data, it was revealed that hospital admissions for eating disorders had increased markedly between 2016 and 2019.
There were 19,040 admissions for 2018/19, which is up from 16,558 the year before, and 13,885 in 2016/2017.
Ms Watson added: “Full statistics for the impact of eating disorders in this country have always been difficult to extract, particularly because we know a large number of people don’t actually receive a formal diagnosis, and are instead ‘battling with’ the illness behind closed doors.
“Despite the clear statistical picture of incidence, deaths, and prolonged waiting times, however, we can be sure that a service like Wednesday’s Child is much needed.
“Anything that contributes to early intervention, and offers hope to individuals and families, can only be of huge benefit in tackling this deadly illness.”
For more information about the School Protocol delivered by Wednesday’s Child, or to access their breadth of services, contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wednesdayschild.co.uk