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A key stage: Place2Be's expansion into secondary schools

25/06/2013

Thanks to a £2 million donation from Impetus - The Private Equity Foundation, Place2Be is expanding its work in secondary schools. Place2Be's Sarah Kendrick discusses this exciting development, and why it's so necessary.

Remember the Harry Enfield sketch where Kevin turns 13? As the clock strikes midnight, he turns from a sweet, thoughtful child into a monosyllabic, unreceptive teen. It's so easy to characterise young people as apathetic, unproductive and unwilling to engage with adults.

But this isn't the case. When Place2Be piloted our model of counselling and support with Years 7 to 9, we saw young people willing to engage with us at quite an astounding level. Not only that, but we found that the intervention was just as effective as for the younger children we've traditionally worked with.

And now, thanks to the generous support of Impetus-PEF, we're able to reach more young people who need us.

Why it matters

We know that the transition years coincide with a period of enormous change in the lives of young people. It's often a time of real vulnerability for them, at the same time that they must transition to secondary school and cope in a new, more formal environment.

We see some young people struggling to fit into that structure, and we're able to be a bridge between the student and the school - a reasonable, neutral place. There are new challenges for them - pressures within peer groups, staying safe in relationships, the presence of drugs and alcohol in their social lives - and new challenges for us all, like those around technology and the potential harm that can come from online bullying and the sharing of images at the touch of a button.

Can I get help, Miss?

 Teenagers have a huge capacity to reflect and grapple with the issues they face, and I always find it amazing that young people are so keen to problem-solve.

For example, we get teenage boys coming in and telling us that they want to control their anger, or that they need to talk.  They know that they need to avoid acting impulsively, and they're eager to learn and willing to be agents of their own change.

To reflect this, our work differs slightly at Key Stage 3. We still do one-to-one counselling and provide a self-referral service, but we also do more brief counselling - short, solution-focused counselling that identifies problems or issues that the young person wants to manage or change.

Don't be overwhelmed by challenges

It's not easy working at Key Stage 3, when young people's lives are complex and challenges are increasing for them and for us. But it's necessary. And it's our job not to be overwhelmed by challenges, but to meet them head on and in the spirit of collaboration.

It's a huge privilege to be with young people at this stage in their lives. As for Place2Be, it's a vital stage of our own development, too. And it's wonderful to be there to see it unfold.

 

Sarah-kendrick.jpg Sarah Kendrick qualified as a psychotherapist in 1998, and has worked in the statutory and voluntary sectors with children and young people for 26 years. Sarah has worked with Place2Be for the past 11 years in a variety of roles from delivering frontline services to managerial roles, and is now Service Manager for Central London.

To find out more about our work with secondary schools and to speak to us about available funding, contact  schools@place2be.org.uk .

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