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The Department of Education has a Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools Document, which advises schools on how they act in relation to mental health issues. In its Key Points and Principles it clearly states:
When schools suspect a pupil has a mental health problem, they should use the graduated response process (assess – plan – do – review) to put support in place.
- Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, Department for Education
A graduated response process in essence is common sense of what should be expected of a school, when a pupil is known to be or suspected to be suffering with mental health issue. A school should make sure it assesses the situation and what it could do for the pupil, the put these things into action, and then repeat this - it is a simple and logical approach to doing what they can in the way of support, and certainly never to overlook, ignore, or disregard a pupil's needs, or what they might be going through.
When a school has a procedure, it has a policy to outline what it is and how it is followed. John Kyrle has many policies.
Nigel Griffiths was written to, beginning with the above quote from the Key Points and Principles from the DfE's guidance document, and was asked for "a copy of John Kyrle's written School Policy" that includes the actions it follows when the school suspects a pupil has a mental health problem", and here below is Nigel Griffiths direct reply to this (December 2020):
Your request was for a copy of the school's written policy that includes the actions it follows when the school suspects a pupil has a mental health problem. We can confirm that we do not hold such a policy.
- Nigel Griffiths, JKHS Headteacher
John Kyrle High School has been stonewalling parents requesting a meeting about Mental Health for over two years and counting. Over 300 deeply concerned people, signed a petition asking for this. Nigel Griffiths said they will not be attending such a meeting.
Since then, the school has released much PR about Mental Health, and all the time a steady stream of parents and pupils have come forward over how they feel utterly let down, stonewalled and sidelined by John Kyrle High School leadership when it comes to mental health.
Those suffering Mental Health issues invariably experience deep distress, as will their families as they come to terms with what is happening and endeavour to find positive steps they can take. A school has a duty of care to its pupils, this is loco parentis. As such, it is vital that schools step up to play their part, and the guidance from the DfE is very clear that this is something they should be doing.
Whilst it is not required of JKHS to have such a policy, they also do not appear to follow any graduated process at all. One example subject access request around serious mental health concerns backed up by medical assessment has shown absolutely zero evidence of a Graduated Process being put in place in any sense by John Kyrle High School.
Many parents are in touch, and have also described how no effective attention has been paid to their child when they have had mental health issues at John Kyrle High School, these accounts reflect much related distress. Some parents also report the school has affected their child's mental health, and many times parents report how the school has suggested they take their child out of John Kyrle. Of course, removing a child from their peer group and all the friends they have grown up with can have a devastating effect on a young mind.
Whilst the DfE guidance on Mental Health in schools is not a rule, it is clear that parents who have needed the school to act in a reasonable manner have been deeply upset at the school's lack of engagement.
Nigel Griffiths signs letters from the school on headed paper saying that he is a National LEADER of Education. It would be a reasonable assessment that a school run with any exemplary leadership would indeed have in place a policy to ensure the school looks at what it can do to support any pupil suspected to have a mental health issue when it is government advice? At John Kyrle, despite Nigel Griffiths out-of-date claims of "outstanding leadership" (that can only be found in the Ofsted inspection before last), John Kyrle have no such policy and provide no evidence of any Graduated Response Process for those distressed by Mental Health issues at the school.
Nigel Griffiths (JKHS Headteacher), Denise Strutt (JKHS Chair of Trustees), and Trixie Clarke (SENCO and Mental Health Lead), have all failed to engage and flatly refused to talk about John Kyrle and Mental Health when asked to.
It is worth noting that at time of writing, Nigel Griffiths has simply confirmed they have no policy or procedure on Mental Health Support at JKHS, despite the government guidance CLEARLY stating in plain language that this should be the case.
Staff Mental Health is also incredibly important, please read about the awful treatment of a member of staff. This is not a one off case of staff bullying, and many teachers have been in touch with their experiences of bullying by the leadership at John Kyrle.