Inclusion Unit

The Inclusion Unit is run by a team of pastoral staff dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of students.

The Unit:-

  • Adopts a holistic approach to students’ mental health and well-being
  • Runs programmes of 1:1 mentoring sessions
  • Houses students that are unable to attend some of their regular lessons
  • Has an open door policy for students facing difficulties with their emotional wellbeing
  • Hosts workshops and small group work both in house and from outside agencies i.e. MIND
  • Collaborates with outside agencies i.e. CAMHS, COMPASS BUZZ, Grief Counselling
  • Liaises with parents/carers to achieve best mental health outcomes for students
  • Hosts a regular drop in session with the Healthy Child Team (school nurse)

Inclusion Manager – Karen Dickinson

Mentor – Dave Finnie

Mentor – Sarah Nolan

Vision and values 

Hello, I am Karen Dickinson and I am the Inclusion Manager and also the Staff Wellbeing Lead here at Thirsk School and 6th Form College.  

I am passionate about mental health and emotional wellbeing, so this really is my dream job. I love working with young people; they keep me young (at heart if not in body) and they definitely keep my mind sharp!  

Every day is different and as such you never know what challenges each new day might bring. It can be very fast paced but I love that aspect of it. The job satisfaction from equipping young people with the tools they need to have a mentally healthy life is, in my opinion, second to none and so very important in preparing them for adulthood. 

I believe educating students on mental health and what they can do to help themselves at this early stage in their lives can have a massive effect on their future wellbeing and will help to carry them through life well. On a daily basis, I see students come through our doors in all manner of heightened emotional states, and leave us calm, emotionally regulated, happy and smiling and ready to face the day again. In terms of job satisfaction, what could be better than that?  

Mental Health and Wellbeing 

Our school recognises the impact mental health has on education and attitude to learning (as well as every other aspect of life) and how integral good mental health is in attaining a happy, healthy existence.  

In the Inclusion Unit, we take a holistic approach to mental health & wellbeing. We recognise the wide spectrum of difficult challenges our young people face, and work with them holistically to improve their own wellbeing, both in and out of school. We strongly encourage resilience and self-responsibility and work to help young people find their own coping mechanisms, enabling them to move forward into adult lives with a healthy understanding of their own strengths and the ‘tools’ to assess and resolve any difficulties they may face in their future. 

Supporting students 

The Inclusion Unit is, in many ways, the hub of school life for our students. We offer a safe space where students can come if they are having an ‘off’ or ‘down’ day, if they need a chat, or just someone to listen while they offload their worries or problems.  

We operate an open-door policy and students can be assured of a warm welcome. Whether they need a quiet space to get their thoughts together or a listening ear to unburden to, or some direction of how to solve problems they are experiencing, our team will be there to help and assist.  

In addition to our walk-in service, we offer comprehensive mentoring programmes covering issues such as: anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, self-esteem and body image, to name but a few.  

Our staff work hard to attain and maintain a good relationship with the young people in order to recognise individual needs, and as such each programme can be tweaked to meet such needs. Staff are also trained facilitators of Rainbow Bereavement Support UK- a nationally recognised programme of support sessions aimed at young people that have experienced loss due to death, parental separation, siblings moving out etc.  

The Inclusion Unit also houses students that do not take a lesson in the classroom for whatever reason. We provide a safe, quiet and calm workspace for them and have a number of computers and resources they can access.  

We take a collaborative approach to mental health and work closely with parents/carers and outside agencies such as CAMHS, MIND, Compass Buzz & Reach, Healthy Child Team (school nurse) CRUSE Bereavement and Young Carers.  

We are very fortunate to have a youth worker from MIND for one day per week who facilitates 1:1 mentoring, small group work and mental health workshops. We also work closely with the Thirsk Community Works youth worker who also facilitates 1:1 mentoring in school once a week.  

Referrals 

Referrals to the Inclusion Unit are generally made by staff when the need arises but students can self refer. Parents can also make contact with pastoral staff to discuss support that inclusion could provide. Sometimes students might just need brief contact and then feel equipped to deal with a concern themselves. Where we feel students can be supported further by our inclusion team there will be a plan created and a 6 week system of support put in place. This will involve a time slot for students to attend a meeting with their key worker (inclusion staff) where a ‘toolkit’ will be worked on for students to manage themselves. Following this a review will take place. The hope is always that students feel equipped to managed their situation themselves or the situation itself is resolved. Where this is not the case a review will take place with the pastoral team and referrals to wider agencies may be made (CAMHS, COMPASS etc). Our inclusion team (along with key pastoral staff) are Thrive and Boxall trained – this allows for clear plans of support and action to be created  

Parental Referrals  

If you feel your child is in need of support from our inclusion team, or you would like support with accessing wider agencies, we would encourage you to speak to their Head of Year or the relevant Head of School. Those members of staff will be more than happy to support your requests following discussion.   

 What do our students think? 

‘When Inclusion became a part of the school 2 years ago it became one of the best parts of school. It’s a safe place where staff know exactly what to do even when I feel the lowest of the low. It’s a good place because you get to talk about anything and it is a release. Students at school are so lucky to have a place to go- it helped me become the person I am today’- KG Year 11 

‘I first went to Inclusion this year because I needed to speak to someone. I found it easier when I got to do that. They helped a lot and gave me advice’ – EB Year 9 

 ‘When I first started coming to Inclusion I thought it wouldn’t help, but now I feel grateful for how much it has helped because I know if I feel down there’s someone I can talk to. Also I feel that I can speak truthfully to the staff in the Unit’ -BM Year 9 

‘I first started coming to Inclusion in Year 8. It helped me speak to someone. In Year 9 I got a Time Out card so I can go there when things get too much for me. If I am down I know I can talk to them and they won’t judge me. I am so grateful for Inclusion’- LC Year 9 

‘To me, Inclusion is a place to talk and just unwind- to talk about school, life and home. The staff are so kind and welcome you and if I am having a bad time I can talk and then feel like I am much more relaxed’ -CC Year 7