Blog by Kelly Hannaghan: CORC Forum gives valuable insight for pupils' mental health in education

Reflecting on my recent visit to the CORC Forum 2018, one thought springs to mind, more educators need to sign up to CORC and attend this insightful and valuable event.  Armed with my new found learning of the importance of measuring and monitoring children’s emotional health, my focus initially stalls on the thinking around how schools can share their valuable evidence-based data nationally, to enhance our understanding of what children need in order to flourish.

Food for thought

I was astounded by the sheer bravery of Natasha White, one of the fantastic Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families's young champions, who spoke eloquently about her own battles and experiences in struggling with mental health and powerfully stated that there shouldn’t be a choice of pupils to choose between being emotionally well or achieving well academically. This comment gave me much food for thought! Are we doing enough in education to open up honest and meaningful conversations around mental health needs? And do schools provide a confidential space to explore pupils' ongoing needs and goals?

Highlights

The agenda was jam-packed with valuable presentations from a diverse selection of professional services - all of which champion the mental health and wellbeing of young people. I was captured by the energy of CORC and their ongoing studies and thinking around building up outcome measurements to capture the changing needs. All schools would hugely benefit from using the resources within CORC for a deeper understanding of needs to create best possible outcomes (see Wellbeing Measurement for Schools). It was encouraging to learn more about the plans for the green paper and the dissemination of mental health teams trailblazing much needed support within school communities. Aaron Sefi, guest speaker from Kooth/XenZone shared on the importance of reaching vulnerable young people through digital approaches and how face to face contact is not always the best approach for younger individuals. 

Change in mindset

The need for NHS mental health services and educational provisions to work collaboratively in the support for young people was highlighted and how young people themselves should have a louder voice on their own emotional goal-based outcomes. It was also great to understand more about the ongoing changes in CAMHS services, for example ELCAS, a specialist mental health service for children and young people in East Lancashire and their use of IAPT and ROMS. Insightful feedback was shared from CORC Director Miranda Wolpert and Luís Costa da Silva, with the results from the NHS England – Outcome Measure Survey. I was delighted to see that planned NHS outcome measurements include the voices of pupils, parents and clinicians. This will also help schools to identify the most appropriate measuring tool for their students (see more here).

Conclusion

At the end of the day, I was feeling energised and empowered by all of the guest speakers but left with the burning issue of how to explore where my school would like to see improvements in local commissioning for outcomes and where we can be better at closing feedback loops. 

We like to thank Kelly Hannaghan, Wellbeing Leader at Lessness Heath Primary School for writing this blog for us. 

How can I find out more about the event?

There are a number of ways to catch up with the day. We had lively interaction with followers on Twitter – search #CORCForum2018 for conversation updates and the presentations from each of our speakers are available here. Make sure you check out our photos from the day and do get in touch if we can provide you with any further information on CORC, our members and work to support services working with children and young people’s mental health at corc@annafreud.org.